In just a few hours, Michael Jeffrey Jordan will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Growing up in the Chicago area, Jordan peaked right around the age that I started to comprehend the world around me. My elementary and junior high years are littered with bike rides to McDonald's, feeling funny around girls, and Bulls championship seasons.
And just like the events of 9/11 eight years ago to the day, you never fully appreciate the historic nature of what you're experiencing in those moments. It's not until years later that you can look back and understand the greatness you witnessed.
I'd argue that MMA has a long way to go before it finds its Michael Jordan. Fedor Emelianenko, arguably the best available candidate, is more Babe Ruth than Barry Bonds, more Wilt Chamberlain than MJ. While his accomplishments impress and his skills remain unrivaled, it's fair to say his run came at a time of top-heavy shallowness of talent.
But while we wait for our superstar that defines the sport, we should never fail to be thankful for what we witness month-in and month-out. It's easy to get muddled with inane discussions about rankings and who's ducking who and failed contract negotiations, forgetting the reason why we watch dudes punch each other in the face in the first place.
So, on the day that the world celebrates the greatest basketball player of all time, let's show some appreciation for the fighters we love in the comments. The domination and mystique of Fedor. The technical wizardry of Anderson Silva. The unheralded innovation of Lyoto Machida. The unmatched athleticism of Georges St. Pierre. The challenge-seeking B.J. Penn. The godfather of the sport, Royce Gracie. And the timelessness of Randy Couture.