Coach4aday blog posts are written by John Rancke and I. We write daily about leadership, food, people, music, our granddaughters, Lumberton NC, and things that pique our curiosity.
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June 14, 2018 Mike Jordan
Post by John Rancke
Great question that no one can answer “Is who is the greatest of all-time”?. What about Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain or Connie Hawkins or Magic Johnson or Larry Bird or any of the other “Old Timers”.
Don’t care, not getting into it. But I will talk about Michael Jordan for just a minute and it has nothing to do with shooting or dribbling or rebounding or passing or dunking!
Spring of 1981 I had left the employment with the Town of Zebulon and had taken a job with Lewis Moore down in Rowland, NC selling scholastic supplies and class rings. You know, graduation announcements, name cards, caps and gowns, tassels, and all that other stuff that comes with graduation.
Now “Lewie” had been selling for Starr Engraving for many years all over Southeastern North Carolina. He was an icon! Every high school in Robeson County (13 of them), Cumberland County, Columbus County (back before the mergers), and New Hanover County with 3 high schools. New Hanover, Hoggard, and Laney.
So off we go to Wilmington to deliver the graduation “Stuff”. Lewie and I shared a room on the overnight trips and at 6am we would awaken and turn on ESPN and watch Australian Rules Football as we got ready for work.
We’re down there 4 days and our final day is at Laney High School north of town. We get there early in the morning and get all the boxes open and in alphabetical order and throughout the day the students come by, pay their balances on their accounts, and take their package home. Lunchtime comes and we are slammed with kids. Hardly have time to look up.
Then I hear this voice “Excuse me sir. Can you help me”. I look up and there is this young man that is several inches taller than I. I said sure, give me just a moment. I finish the paperwork and look back up and I’m greeted by this cheerful and happy expression with the biggest smile. I asked the young man “What is your name”? “MIKE JORDAN” he replied.
So I went into the boxes and found his package with everything he ordered. As I handed it to him I asked if he was the young man going to Carolina and play basketball and he grinned and said “Yes Sir”. I had heard his name mentioned sometime that spring (long before there were AAU and such widespread coverage of recruiting) so I had to ask. I told him good luck and he thanked me with that smile and I started helping the next student in line.
When we got back to Rowland that night and I went home I told my wife that I had met this neat happy young man at Laney High School. He was going to try and play at Carolina. They say he’s pretty good. But then I told Pam “If he never plays a minute in a crucial point in a game in 4 years and just rides the bench, that he will be a great ambassador and important part of the Family”.
I have never had the opportunity to meet Michael since then. The Lettermen weekends, the private service for Coach Smith, Coach Guthridge’s service, our paths never crossed.
I will remember that encounter until I die. He made such an impression on me off the court. Maybe one day he might read this blog.