Add the Greatest of All Time to the long list of NBA players, executives and fans who don’t respect the new “Three Kings” of the Miami Heat.
Speaking with reporters on Sunday, Michael Jordan shared his disappointment that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh chose to team up this offseason.
"There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team,'" Jordan said after playing in a Nevada golf tournament. "But that's ... things are different. I can't say that's a bad thing. It's an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."
Considering how hard James and Wade have worked to enter the conversation of “is he better than Jordan?,” his latest words must leave a sting.
Jordan is not the only NBA legend to speak against the league’s best stars coming together in Miami. When the news broke, Charles Barkley had this to say to the Arizona Republic:
"Mike and I are in 100 percent agreement on this. If you're the two-time defending NBA MVP, you don't leave anywhere. They come to you. That's ridiculous. I like LeBron. He's a great player. But I don't think in the history of sports you can find a two-time defending MVP leaving to go play with other people."
For their part, Wade and James hear the criticism. They understand the pressure they will now be under, and they plan to use it as motivation for the upcoming season. In an article published by AOL Fanhouse, Wade said:
"We enjoy the bull's-eye. Plus, there's going to be times when we lose 2-3 games in a row, and it seems like the world has crashed down. You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade is coming down again, but it's not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games."
No doubt Wade’s unfortunate reference to the World Trade Center attacks will cause a media stir next week, but his point is an interesting one. It’s almost as if he and the rest of his new teammates welcome the challenge they'll inevitably face next year.
Deep in the Heat locker room, you wonder if they'll choose to play the Scarface-like “Yeah we’re the bad guys and we like it” card all the way to the NBA-finals.
Also lost in all this, is that James and Wade are doing what we constantly berate our athletes for not doing. They chose to sacrifice their personal reputations, their pride and their salaries for the sake of winning. For a better chance at getting the championship everyone else covets.
Still, Jordan’s sentiments no-doubt echoed the reaction that all “old-school” basketball fans had when they heard the news of the “South Beach Big Three.”