Greatness Comes Without Complacency

When it comes to the NBA and the word greatness, one person that will always pop up in our minds is Michael Jordan. We all know him for what he’s done on the basketball court and the success of 6 NBA Championships that followed. Countless MVPs, regular and postseason, All-Star Appearances, and a myriad of other accolades. The most noted achievement came last week as MJ was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2009.

It was inevitable, as we all knew even while he was still playing that he was a special player and that he’d be recognized for that one day. I admittedly missed watching the ceremony live on ESPN but I caught up with all the speeches online and was truly moved when listening to Michael talk about the game, but more so hearing more about his mentality as a competitor.

He’s fought every day to get to where he’s at today and he’s constantly pushed himself & his teammates to succeed. His motivation comes from his family, as well as from coaches and players that he’s connected with throughout his career. He used the naysayers and his competitors to push him and to prove them wrong.

This competitive nature was summed up at the end of his speech with this great quote:

Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.

Though his speech may have raised a bit of a debate as to whether he’s ‘too competitive’, no one can deny that his nature was that of non-complacency and is the reason why many of us think of him as one of the greatest players to play the game.

He never settled; nor did he ever give up.

He succeeded, but it was never enough.

Every one of his victories and championships were cherished like it were his first, but he was never satisfied. That passion and thirst for more from the game of basketball stayed within him – and I don’t doubt that same drive is still with him to this day.

So if you haven’t seen his speech, take some time out to watch it: part 1, part 2, part 3.

What do you think of his competitive nature? Is it extreme or is it something that can be instilled in all of us? I want to hear how someone’s own success inspires you.

Photo credit: barnezy


  1. [...] is a cross-post from my basketball blog, Rockin’ The Rim. Though it reads about Michael Jordan and the game of basketball, the focus is on his nature as a [...]

  2. Kasey Skala (Reply) on Monday 14, 2009

    Someone of his greatness has earned the right to do and say pretty much anything he wants. I think his confidence and arrogance is the sign of the level of his greatness. Yes, you can be great and not be cocky, but the truly best-of-the-best have a bit of cockiness to them. That’s their edge. They know they’re better than anyone on the court. They know that there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them. That’s what gives them the edge. That’s what puts them above the normal folk.

    We don’t try to emulate MJ because he was the best. We emulate him because he excelled in high-pressure situations. We emulate him because of his confidence. There’s a reason why he will always be known as #23.

  3. Sonny Gill (Reply) on Tuesday 15, 2009

    @Kasey: Great points on the mentality of an athlete of that caliber. There’s a reason we don’t fault Michael for his cockiness but yet are quick to snap judgment at Lebron and Kobe. They’re both undoubtedly great players and the 2 best in the league, IMO, but it says something for MJ when you still can’t put them in the same boat as him.