Part I of III: The so-called "Love of the game clause"
It's amazing how interesting a particular strain of TrueHoop, YouTube, and Google can turn into. So let's surf this nice little wave that is the Internet, the first of a series of Did You Know ("DYK?" for ESPN watchers) nuggets I found on the O.G. Michael Jordan...
It all started when last week, TrueHoop.com came across an old 60 Minutes interview with Michael Jordan from 1986, posted on YouTube. I couldn't help but press the pause button when they flashed MJ's so-called "love of the game clause" up on the screen -- a camera shot of the actual document!
For those of you who grew up in the Magic/Bird/Jordan era, this is like finding the Rosetta Stone or a copy of the Declaration of Independence in your attic -- okay, terrible metaphors, but I think you feel me.
Here it is, verbatim:
This letter will confirm our discussion regarding Michael Jordan's participation in off-season activities. We have agreed that notwithstanding the provisions of Paragraph 17 of the Uniform Player Contract, Michael need not obtain consent of the Club in order to engage in:
1) play, demonstration, or instruction in connection with a basketball camp or clinic appearances, or
2) a basketball game sanctioned by the NBA benefiting either a charitable or educational organization, or
3) playing or practicing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Accordingly, player shall not be subject to fine or suspension by Club if he engages the above sports or activities.
Jon, we appreciate your reconfirmation of your acceptance of these terms by signing this letter below. Thank you for your cooperation.
Sincerely, /s/ Michael Jordan Michael Jordan
A one-page letter signed by the man himself!
But let us pause for moment as well.
With all of the summer celebrity/charity games these days...
Zo's Summer Groove (Alonzo Mourning),
Magic's Midsummer Night's Dream now run by Baron Davis and Paul Pierce,
...and the inherent strong ties between NBA stars and their college alma maters...
Carmelo and his millions to develop the Syracuse athletic center,
random Lakers playing pickup against UCLA players on campus,
or basically any Duke or UNC alum
...it's safe to assume that a "love of the game clause" is probably built into any standard NBA contract these days. Pretty much all of the major charity games (maybe not Felipe Lopez's, I don't know) are sanctioned by the NBA. I'm sure it's common practice for owners to allow players from prestigious college programs to go back and condition and train in the off-season.
The YouTube 60 Minutes video also referred this memorable commercial, which I agree with the uploader is the best Jordan ever made. It's mythical.
But what strikes me is this: That's it?!
That is the fabled "love of the game clause"?
I'm sure I can't be in the minority on this. I don't know about you, but I thought the "love of the game clause" let MJ play on ANY FREAKIN' BLACKTOP on Mother Earth!!
I thought his love of the game was our love of the game.
I mean, when we feel the itch or the love to play the game, I do not recall it going something like this:
"Hey dude, what are you doing after work Wednesday? Let's go hoop."
"Sure, buddy. Where's the nearest camp, clinic, or NBA-sanctioned game, where proceeds must benefit a charity or educational organization, we can play at?"
But wait, there's more. Who was this Jonathan the clause was addressed to? A simple Google search would uncover even more MJ DYK's, to be posted in Part II...