Bernstein: Do We Still Want To “Be Like Mike?”

By Dan Bernstein–

At the peak of his global celebrity, Michael Jordan’s pitch to potential consumers of his branded products was refreshingly direct.

While other superstar athletes and actors would merely imply that the mortal mobs could attain grandeur through drinks, clothes, shoes, fragrances and snacks, MJ used three words and a catchy refrain to tell us what to do.

Be Like Mike.

We listened, because that’s what we wanted. We drank enough yellow Gatorade to launch an industry of “sports drinks,” enabled a gym-shoe arms race that effectively enslaved south Asia, applied a cologne that made us smell like a sauna-baked catcher’s mitt, and went to McDonald’s for the “McJordan,” which had the culinary foresight to combine beef, cheese, bacon, onions, barbecue sauce and pickles into a single, ghastly package of congealed sodium.

And, there was that one time we almost bit through our tongue while trying the midair, switch-to-the-left-hand layup, and landed on the uneven part where the driveway meets the garage. Ok, I, not we.

It was news yesterday that our opportunities to emulate Jordan can continue further into middle age – ours and his – with the arrival of Michael Jordan’s Steak House later this summer on Michigan Avenue.

It may have been 13 years since he wore a Bulls uniform, but he’s betting that those powerful, childhood connections can still lure enough of us away from shopping to grab the same piece of charred, prime meat being sold at 20 other restaurants within blocks.

This is what it means to emulate him, now. He’s still pretty honest about it.

One of his other places serves gamblers at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, the same place he notoriously pulled a down-a-million-up-a-million all-nighter at the blackjack tables before his Washington Wizards lost a game to the Knicks in 2001.

Play simultaneous $15,000 hands of cards, eat a big steak, have a few beers and a cigar, perhaps. Hit on a cocktail waitress or two. Be like Mike.

Even his still-popular clothing line is now modeled by the guys actually wearing the gear. Air Jordans and other jumpman-logoed items are sported by Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and a host of pro athletes across the major sports.

If you really wanted to dress like Jordan does now, you’d make a giant zoot suit out of forest-green velour, in an apparent effort to resemble one of the chorus dancers from “Guys and Dolls,” had they worn oversized, gold-hoop earrings.

Jordan is back in Chicago’s basketball conversation because of Derrick Rose, and a Bulls team embracing realistic thoughts of contending for the NBA title. Notice how much more often Jordan has been mentioned of late, and you can see why the timing might be right for him to glom his brand back onto something on the upswing, even if he does so tangentially.

He is still a big part of Bulls basketball, and Bulls basketball is a hot stock.

(Don’t get me started on the larger, obvious conflicts of interest: he owns and operates the Charlotte Bobcats [!] while hiring players around the league to endorse his merchandise, while he still cashes in on his association with another NBA team.)

In some way, the pathologically-competitive Jordan may still be at it, trying to remind the city of his legend at the same time another MVP ascends. That fire will always burn.

Just last Saturday, in fact, Jordan berated members of UNC’s basketball team for not wearing his shoes. “Next time I see you wearing those Kobe Bryants, I’m gonna take it right off,” he yelled at Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Kendall Marshall and others. “I don’t care if your feet kill you, you’re gonna wear them Jordans.”

He’s a living icon, not content to remove himself from the game.

Imagine the specter of Dale Earnhardt – really the only sports brand comparable in national power and scope, still holding sway over a sport – descending from the heavens to demand that NASCAR fans switch out their car-window flags, plastic coolers and belt buckles for those bearing the white “3” on the black background.

The selling of Jordan is not as simple as it once may have been, but it continues, while another generation of Chicago basketball fans grows up idolizing a humble kid produced by the city itself.

We’ll see how well the fundamental pitch matures.

Be like what Mike was? Be like what he is?

Will our kids need to be told why they’re supposed to want to?

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Do We Still Want To Be Like Mike?

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    MJeff as a basketball player was the greatest in history.
    MJeff as a person, not so great at all.

    • Denver Deadite

      As is often the case, LHA.

      In the end, I think yes, many would still want to be ‘Be Like Mike’. Many would want to BE Mike as well.

    • Jon

      Actually, MJ did alot of good things off the court, especially for underprivledge children. This Jordan bashing is getting out of hand

      • Joe

        He also probably got his father killed with his gambling – be like Mike? No thanks.

      • Jon

        A myth you have with what you have no evidence

  • bronzo

    Not sure I grasp the point to this blog today? I’ve always thought Jordan was a terrific busniess man. His basketball skills are un questioned and his compettive nature unmatched. I always thought Jordan dressed with a lot of class compared to his peers ( see Allan Iverson) Of course I’ll probaly be called racist fot that comment.. So somebody gave him the idea to open a steakkhouse in Chicago because pro basketball will be very relavant again now and in the foreseeable future.

    pretty smart business decision as far as I can see.

    • White Men Can't Pump Gas


      • Mary Mitchell

        Quit talking about Black People!!!

      • Neil Steinberg

        Talk more Black People!!!

      • Lovie's Shiny Chin Scar

        Stop talking about My Gay!!!!

      • White Men Can't Pump Gas

        “10 years from now, you’ll see no blacks at all.”

        – Torii Hunter

        “I’m counting down the days.”

        – bronzo

      • bronzo

        Boy that was lay-up there …no pun intended.

      • Mike Murphy

        Where are you from Black?

      • Chad Johnson of Lady Janes

        Thats right Brian Paruch!!

    • Larry

      I’d call him a terrific pitch-man, but never a terrific businessman. I just attached his name to products and raked in cash. I think it is safe to say that he spent most of his time as a Wizards businessman with an I’m not interested sign on his office door and very little time actually in the office.

  • Mr. Pouty Pants

    I would like to “be like Mike” in the sense that he has hundreds of millions of dollars. I don’t want anything to do with the Charlotte Bobcats though…

  • kev in skokie

    Best… Player… Ever! Think of all the milliions he made for mediocre players. All the Jud Buechlers, and Luc Longleys of the world. Anyone remember Will Perdue? Dennis Hopson anyone? God, he made those scrubs rich!!! There’s gotta be more… Scott Williams? Bison Dele? Help me out here people. He made champions of them all.

    • pulseczar

      He didn’t necessarily make all of them rich, but he won them a bunch of games.

      Jason Caffey, Darrell Walker, Randy Brown, Scott Burrell, Cliff Levingston, Mark Randall, Bob Hansen, Trent Tucker, Rodney McCray, D1ckey [sic] Simpkins, Bill Wennington. I’ll think of more after I hit submit.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Bison Dele? Yeah, Jordan made him rich… and he bought a boat.

      • pulseczar

        Dele had a 16ppg, 9rpg season after he left the Bulls. Not really a scrub per se.

        Yeah, but then he bought a boat…

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        NOT on a boat with T-Pain: Brian Williams.

  • pulseczar

    I wasn’t a Bulls or Jordan fan during MJ’s time. I acknowledged that MJ was the best player but I was a Pistons fan from around 1986 (I was 10) through the Grant Hill and Jerry Stackhouse years. In retrospect, I really don’t know why. Probably because it was contrarian of me when everyone else loved the Bulls and I just didn’t want to be like everyone else. I really did like Isiah Thomas a ton, which seems kinda silly in 2011. But hey, I was in Jr High and he was a great player. I went away for a while and was coming around for a bit before Rose got drafted. Then when he became a Bull, I came all the way back but on this side.

    As far as Jordan/Nike/Jumpman…. Well, I do have two pairs of AdiZero Roses 1.0s. Cuz fast don’t lie. Actually, I have a pair of Fila Grant Hills (had my mom order from Sears catalog then paid her!) and Jerry Stackhouse Stack IIs from the 90s still in excellent shape. Remember the first Jordans were $100 (American dollars! $108 with tax!) in 1980s dollars.

    What am I getting at? I dunno. My shoes never led me to take the next step in choosing a place to eat. My AdiZeros are my most expensive shoes by like 2x I’ve owned in 10-12 years and were a gift from my wife. I don’t usually spend tons on shoes. Then I got a GC to Foot Locker and bought another pair.

    I’m rambling but it’s dead in here.

    • DONK

      HAHAHA! WHAT?!!

  • Bernstein: Do We Still Want To “Be Like Mike?” | Sports shoes,team sports shoes,good sport shoes

    […] more on CBS Chicago Uncategorized Bernstein, like, Mike”, Still, want, […]

  • Mag in Bolingbrook

    The NBA is not even close to being as good as it was when it started through the year 2000. Rose is a good player but not in the caliber of a Jordan, Cousy, Russell, Wilt etc. You take Jordan off the Bulls team we would have never won any championships. Jordan dressed with class and respected the game not like these players act on and off the court. My Husband and I loved the Nba back then, we even had bulls season tickets until the year 2000. Since then we don’t watch NBA games because the games are unwatchable. Jordan is a Class act. Bring back Jordan we might come back!!

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Are we seriously having this discussion?

      You’re romanticizing an era where you were on the bandwagon… that’s weak.

      Take Jordan off the team and they don’t win? Duh. Put Jordan on ANY other team in that era and they’re at the very least a finals contender… even moribund franchises like the early 90’s Mavericks.

      That you were there doesn’t make it better- it just appeased your rah-rah sensibilities.

      Very few players before the 80’s would have been able to star in the league. Most would have been, at best, role players. Why would you even mention Cousy? Don’t make me gag. he never once shot 40% back THEN. He wouldn’t even get a shot off now. Jimmer Fredette would hand him his lunch, for chrissakes.

    • AT3374

      On D. Rose’s “worst” day on the court , Bob Cousy couldn’t deal with him , he’d get his ankles broken like M Jeff did when Iverson crossed him up . You put D. Rose on that Celtic team , Cousy getting splinters on the bench . Nuff said

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Beyond everything else you’ve said, the fact that you call Jordan a “class act” means you know nothing about Jordan whatsoever. Quite deifying him just because he was good at basketball, for crying out loud.

      Even if you don’t believe the heavy breathing rumors, look further.

      Jordan’s HOF “acceptance” speech was an embarassment. He sounded like a bitter old man that still had scores to settle and wasn’t getting the recognition he deserved. Hardly classy.

  • General Soreness

    I just bought a pair of D Rose Adidas for my 13 yr old and they were $100. I cannot believe that the Air Jordans were that much way back then. The black & red were pretty fly though. I was more of a British Knights kid myself. How ya like me now (kool mo dee reference for you non-hipsters). ?

    • pulseczar

      I had a Forget Oreos, eat Cool J Cookies post a few weeks back.

      No one got my Do The Right Thing reference, if they read my rambling post that far.

      Lucky kid- no way I was ever getting $100 shoes unless I paid for them mydamnself. All of those IOUs and Cavariccis were expensive when I was 13.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        Wow… and I was just talking to my boss about how I’d love to wear a hypercolor shirt to the bar as a conversation piece.

  • Scottie P.

    MJ greatest of all time; MJ as a person, still better than anything you will see in the NBA today.

    • Mr. Pouty Pants

      D Rose is a better person than Jordan. Don’t forget, Jordan cheated on his wife.

      • Beverly Brewmaster

        While current evidence suggests D-Rose is a better person than Jordan, you never know… We certainly know a lot more about Jordan’s level of Deutschbankery now than we did when we was in his third year in the league. It’s kind of like steroids: you can have your suspicions, but unless you have a smoking gun you just don’t have the facts to make a definitive call.

      • Mr. Pouty Pants

        Very true Brewmaster.

        Let’s hope Rose continues to be half as clean as he is now.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Grant Hill as person > Michael Jordan as person.

    • pulseczar

      There are some good guy stars in the game. Grant Hill, Tim Duncan, Derrick Rose, Ray Allen, et al.

      Jordan was/is like the Tiger Woods of NBA. Very well crafted image hiding a whole lotta shiess behind the curtain.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        Pulse- well put. You should send that to Bernstein direct.

      • pulseczar

        Except I should spell scheiss correctly. Well, Scheiß.

        Take that, blog censor robot clay person!

      • Denver Deadite

        Ooh, I’m gonna make use of that when I need to tell somebody on here that they’re being an aß. :D

        Or maybe LHA could incorporate it. ;)

  • Jay's Insulin Pump

    Mike’s philosophy is one that is easily considered, but rarely carried out. Be. The. Best. Be the best at whatever it is that you do, whether it be basketball, business, gambling, or roostertail (CBS sensors can lick my hairy ass) waitresses. Don’t just win, dominate. That’s something I can respect.

    Something I have no respect for? Bernstein’s philosophy: BE THE PENGUIN.

    • Jay's Insulin Pump

      F-ing Bernstein can say C0CKtail waitress and I can’t? Give me an F-ing break, CBS. I bet he can say p@sses too. How about gl@sses?

      F CBS right in the ass. Oh, I can say ass, but p@sses is way off limits. Yeah, I wouldn’t want to talk about TD p@sses on a sports blog. I hate you, and I hope Two and a Half Men gets canceled. Oh wait. BOOM BIATCH!

      • pulseczar

        I had a post rejected for typing D!ckey Simpkin’s real name.

        I usually have no idea why most of my rejections on this blog happen though. It gets frustrating.

      • Mr. Pouty Pants

        You should have seen her box.

  • Beverly Brewmaster

    Jordan? Meh.

    Big win for the Blackhawks last night. Obviously Stalberg will never be able to replace Sharp, but I think skating with Toews and Kane will allow him to take advantage of his speed in a way that being on the third or fourth line doesn’t. Nice debut for Kruger as well. Now let’s see if we can survive the next three games: Ducks (one point behind us), Wings (seven points ahead of us, but Hawks have a game in hand) and Bruins (current 3-seed in the East) in four nights, with the latter two on the road. You really hope to come out with at least four points, and if you can win two games in regulation all the better.

    • bronzo

      Good idea Bev…it was nice to see Crawford post a shut out against the Panthers after getting pulled last week against them. I’ll be at the game Saturday night against the Ducks …BIG game .

      I agree , nice debut for Kruger…Glad they were able to get him from the Swedish national team..I think he’ll fit right in.

  • Jon

    Another worthless Blog from Bernstein.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      I thought it was fine, but you’re obv. another worthless troll wasting your time reading someone who you obviously don’t like anyways.

      I guess you’ll be glued to your radio in an hour anyways, like a sheep. An angry, bitter sheep, but a sheep nonetheless that just… can’t… help… himself… and still listens despite claiming to hate.

      • Jon

        You are the guy that has like 20+ posts on this blog a day. Dan does have some good points and some fun blogs to read, but many of them are just pointless, like todays. But as a loyal follower, me make a critque on them, is like critizing the New Testament Gospel. Take a break from the keyboard and enjoy the nice weather in Scottsdale. I’m stuck in cold Illnois

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        I’m here because I like to be here… because I like the show. This is my tether to Illinois sports. Local sports radio out here is awful, and I’m not a big fan of national shows as well.
        I apologize for being a knob, but I saw a single-line blast without any context and just felt compelled to retort. I just didn’t see “this post is worthless” as a “critique”.

    • Denver Deadite

      Look, it’s an aß!

      • Beverly Brewmaster

        So trü.


    As a basketball player, Michael Jordan was one of the best ever to play the game and the Bulls couldn’t have won 6 NBA Championships in the ’90s without him. As for Jordan since he retired, he seems kinda bored and has made questionable decisions as a front office executive and part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.

    As for the current Bulls, it’s now a 1 game lead in the Eastern Conference after the Memphis Grizzlies scored a 90-87 road win over the Boston Celtics on the parquet floor of TD Garden. Looking for guys in a slump? Try Rajon Rondo, who scored only 6 points last night on just 2/12 shooting from the field for the C’s.

    The Bulls’ first round opponent could be the New York Knicks after all. The Knicks got hammered again last night by the Orlando Magic at MSG by a final of 111-99, thanks to 33 from Dwight Howard. From the category of “I told you so”, there are questions now about Carmelo Anthony’s lack of defense since the Knicks made the trade with the Denver Nuggets for him at the deadline. The Knicks are now 7-10 and are fading like a pair of old Levi’s jeans since Anthony arrived in NYC. If the Bulls are the #2 seed, the Knicks may be the opponent at #7 and head coach Mike D’Antoni might want to update his resume if New York continues to freefall.

    • AT3374

      Knicks need someone to play defense for Melo , since he decided LONG ago not to do so . Buls would have trouble but have a MUCH better team , and beat the Knicks in 5 … long as Rose is healthy .

  • Mike Murphy

    Michael was the man

  • thebizkit

    Do I want to be like Fat Mike today? hmmm

    Greatest Basketball Player of all time Check
    Multi Millionaire Check
    Owns a pro sports team check
    Sleeps with a different hoe bag every night check
    Owns Chicago check

    Wow, sounds like Being Jordan is awesome!!!!

    But seriously, Jordan did a lot of good charity work, he was an asshat off the court but so are 99% of great athletes just like great musicians, actors etc.

  • Mag

    Rose has already started cheating, Someone else took his ACT and Cousy has 7 rings

    • AT3374

      What does that have to do with anything ? And Cousy didn’t win those 7 rings by himself . He had the BEST center of that time doing all the dirty work . Besides the ONLY play we ever see of Cousy is him dribbling out the clock .

      Please , Cousy would get destroyed by the players playing the game today .

      Also Kobe is going for 6 and cheated on his wife also , so MJeff be worried ;)

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Cousy has seven rings because Bill Russell, Tommy Heinsohn and Red Auerbach needed someone to carry their bags. Seven rings just meant the other players sucked WORSE. He never shot 40% in any season. If he couldn’t get off a decent shot percentage then, in what universe could he get his shot off now.

      Have you even seen a game from that time versus now? Less than 10% of those players could make a roster now.

      Do yourself a favor and watch some basketball rather than wax nostalgia about how you had season tickets in an era when they were a status symbol. The fact that you seem to think “the game was better” when it wholly wasn’t means you know nothing about the players or the game.

      Were there superstars? Yes.
      Could they play today? A few.
      Do you think Wilt and Russell are pulling 40 boards on multiple occasions in today’s game? No.

      Beyond that, the players weren’t necessarily better PEOPLE, in Jordan’s era or before, either.

      Rose’s ACT’s vs. Cousy’s rings are a total non sequitur, and a weak argument. Do you think Ron Harper, ring-toting backcourt mate back from when you had season tickets qualified academically? Yeah, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

      • Mr. Pouty Pants

        You know who was a great guy form back in the 60s and 70s?
        Wilt Chamberlain.

      • Mike Murphy

        Wilt, he was a big time NUMBERS guy, where’s my rimshot

  • Harry's Phlegm

    I think about the Jordan thing a lot. It’s a conundrum. Can you be the best there ever was at a sport and not be sort of a less-than-great guy off the court? In other words, the same thing that gives him his drive and ferocity to excel cannot co-exist with being a great guy off the court.

    So I just take Jordan for what he is…the best there ever was and the best there ever will be. I never bought the image thing anyway. He amused me and entertained me like dancing bears. That’s all.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Heh… Dancing Bears.

  • Shakes the Clown


  • puddin' head

    i want my bank account to be like mikes and i think that’s what po’s DB mike can open an eatery because he can or probably do what ever he wants like put 10 million on the pass line ……yes oh yes i wanna be like mike he earned it let him spend and be what he wants without being questioned

  • puddin' head

    qualified academically? ALL basketball players…at basket weaving and bowling for sure

  • DRL

    great player,but a huge egomaniac who only cared about himself and banging white chicks

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