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Joel B. Anthony took the words right out of my mouth. Writing on the Washington Post‘s Free for All page on Saturday, Mr. Anthony articulated a lingering feel that I’d had about a piece of columnizing by Washington Postie Michael Wilbon.
Background: A week back from Sunday, Wilbon had written an apologia for Michael Jordan on the occasion of Jordan’s acceptance speech for his Basketball Hall of Fame induction. By many accounts, Jordan’s remarks on that occasion were childish and small: He used the podium to belittle everyone who’d ever doubted him. He never came close to the high road. He invited to the speech an old schoolmate who was chosen over him for the varsity squad. He took to task people who’d slighted him over his career.
In comes Wilbon to—-surprise!—-defend Jordan. “Jordan said himself toward the end of his speech that he took all these perceived slights as challenges and turned them into wood that made the fire rage. Michael Jordan has always known who he is and what he needed to be Michael Jordan. It’s just that few people knew this particular side until Friday night and almost nobody knew he was going to let the wall down when he did.”
Anthony on this matter: “As someone who has had his own sports idols throughout his life, I understand how Wilbon continues to breathe the rarefied air of Jordan’s greatness, but only a small measure of objectivity is required to see that what Jordan revealed with his self-absorbed, unkind comments during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony was the nasty, selfish side that accompanies many elite athletes’ competitiveness.”
The retirement of Jordan has saved the world from the frequent Wilbon paeans to the greatest basketball player ever. This is a columnist who’ll excuse just about anything from the 6-foot-6 swingman. And in this column, Wilbon suggested why: “It wasn’t a speech so much as it was an entertaining rant, something you saw pretty often if you were one of Jordan’s golf partners or card-playing friends or, to be honest, a sportswriter with an off-the-record relationship with him.” Gotta protect your sources.
Elsewhere, Post columnist Colbert I. King goes up strong against Peacoholics and Michelle Rhee over the Barry Harrison conviction. King sounds outraged that a ex-con should be bale to get access to a D.C. school, where he could prey on schoolgirls.
Must-read of the weekend, which comes via the New York Times. Here’s an abstract:
*Egypt hears about swine flu, freaks out;
*Egypt decides it must take action;
*Egypt decides swine are responsible for spreading swine flu;
*Egypt’s decision that swine are spreading swine flu is not endorsed by professionals;
*Egypt, freaked out about swine flu and convinced that swine are spreading it, kills all—-or a least a great deal of—-swine in Cairo;
*Egypt thinks it has done something positive;
*Egypt hasn’t, in fact, done something positive;
*Egypt has done something dumb;
*Egypt watches helplessly as ancient system for handling trash crumbles, as a direct result of its swine slaughter. The entrepreneurs who handle a great deal of trash collection in Cairo, you see, had fed much of their organic rubbish to pigs, whom they later slaughtered for food; now that there are no pigs to eat that rubbish, it’s all piling up in the streets;
*Egypt wishes that the goats would eat more of the quickly accumulating garbage, but that’s not happening.