Hip Hop, The Individual, and the
Culture of Michael Jordan
I ball for real / y'all niggaz is Sam Bowie /
and with the third pick /1 made the earth sick /
M.J., hem Jay /fade away perfect.
— JAY-Z, “Hola Hovito”
What is there to say about Michael Jordan that has not already been said? There is no question that Jordan is one of the most ubiquitous American icons ever, or that his presence and visibility have for quite some time far transcended the game of basketball. Jordan used basketball to become one of the most talked-about figures in the history of American popular culture. Indeed, what else is there to say that some sportswriter, pundit, academic, or person on the street has not said so many times before?
Well, this is not intended as another praise song for Michael Jordan, nor is it a diss. Yet if one is serious about discussing the NBAs ascent into the stratosphere of popular culture, it seems that a great deal of that conversation must include a discussion of Jordan's overwhelming influence in getting people to watch basketball who otherwise would have never been interested. At a certain point in the 1990s, when Jordan began to regularly win championships and every award imaginable,