Michael Jordan is Becoming the Villain Just as He Predicted

Michael Jordan smoking a cigar.
Michael Jordan smoking a cigar. / Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In the immortal words of Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight Rises, you either die a hero, or live long enough to become the villain. And so it has gone for Michael Jordan over the last five weeks, just as he predicted.

In case you forgot, before The Last Dance documentary was released by ESPN, Jordan prophesied that viewers were "going to think I'm a horrible guy" after watching the behind-the-scenes footage of him and the Bulls. Instead, the opposite happened( at least initially), with the majority of people focused on how impressive his singular focus on winning was and forgiving him for any misdeeds in the pursuit of immortality.

Now that the documentary is over, however, I've noticed a shift. All of a sudden the conversation isn't about how great of a player Jordan was, but rather focused on the negative, both on him as a teammate and how the documentary portrayed others. Remember, Jordan had control over how this documentary was produced.

Yesterday the top story on ESPN (and many other outlets) was Jordan's former teammate Horace Grant calling him a snitch. Today Jay Williams said he understands why Scottie Pippen would be upset by the doc and former Bulls player Stacey King said he was disappointed by how Jerry Krause was portrayed. Even Skip Bayless, he of Michael Jeffery Jordan reverence, discussed the negative side of Jordan today.

This shouldn't be a surprise. Once all the positive things were written about Jordan, which they were ad nauseam as the doc was running, the only thing left to do was focus on the negatives. Betting is popular now and Jordan's history there was written about enough already. So now the focus is on the other things that made/make him a distasteful person, like spitting on food so others don't eat it. Gotta get those clicks, right?

As a society, we often build up sports heroes and then revel as they fall. It's a time-honored tradition going all the way back to gladiators and continuing today with the Lance Armstrongs and Tiger Woods and Mike Tysons of the world. We build them up because it makes us feel good to cheer for someone doing something we wish we could. Then we knock them down because it makes us feel good to know they're just human.

Nearly 20 years after his playing career ended, we're still doing that with Michael Jordan. He knew that going into this doc. Now his prediction has become reality.