Tuesday, May 10, 2005

He's So Fine

When Michael Jordan attempted a comeback with the Washington Wizards a few years back, a healthy portion of the commentary around his return centered around the notion that he would have been much better off had he not, that leaving at the top of his game had been the better choice, and that by playing for the Wizards at less than his peak powers he would be sullying his legacy.

I never, never understood that notion. As a Wizard, Jordan, while of course not the player he was, was still an excellent basketball player. Had he come in as a 35+-year old unknown, any team would have been happy to pick him up. Not to be the team's star, not to build around, but as an excellent building block to a successful team. Jordan, clearly, loves the game. But the consensus seemed to be that he shouldn't have bothered playing it unless he was going to be the best. Why? Why shouldn't a Michael Jordan play, assuming he still has the appropriate skills, which he did, if he can contribute to a team and if he gets enjoyment from playing?

Enter Ricky Henderson.

At 46, Henderson is going to play for a new minor league in California, as a member of the San Diego Surf Dawgs. Henderson doesn't need to play. Henderson wants to. And, at 46, he is apparently still skilled enough to contribute. According to the article, he still harbors hopes of playing again in the majors. At age 46. Can Henderson still do what he did as a younger man? No. But if he can contribute, whether in this new independent minor league, or in the majors once again, why shouldn't he? Henderson very clearly loves the game. Many would mock him for not knowing when to hang up the cleats. I applaud him for refusing to until it's absolutely necessary.

Until Whenever

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