1996—I didn’t know why at the time, but I had to have it. Had to. I was in second grade, and the poster of Michael Jordan rocking the XI’s as he soared in front of the most mid-90’s background ever had to be mine. It didn’t matter that I grew up in the Bay State, with possibly the richest basketball tradition in the country. It didn’t matter that I was decked out in a pleather Seattle Supersonics backpack when I went to school every day. I knew that as soon as my mother said, “you need some artwork in your room” that the empty spaced could only be filled by one man.
Jordan was someone I couldn’t help but root against as he trounced my Celtics again and again, but the truth of it was, I relished every victory in private, away from the eyes of my peers. It was sort of an unspoken agreement—there were the players you rooted against when they came to town—and then there was Jordan.
What he did on the basketball court was poetic, plain and simple. He occupied his own space in the basketball world. It also could have been the fact that he was the dude in Space Jam, who knows. We checked out, and I placed the poster (the only framed piece of artwork in my bedroom) in its own corner.
As I passed into my teenage years, my bare walls began filling up with other memorabilia: scantily clad women, CD jackets, scantily clad women, and countless ticket stubs from lopsided Celtics losses. Bookshelves, carpets, and beds changed, but Jordan was never touched. It was as if the entire room revolved around that image.
The Celtics landed the Big 3 and surged into relevance, and the walls of my childhood bedroom became drenched in green as basketball washed over Massachusetts. There was just one glaring, bright blue omission—Jordan maintained his own wall. Eventually I grew up (not surprising) and moved out (sort of surprising), but I never framed another player. It didn’t feel right.
When I head home for a visit these days I have the opportunity to crash in my childhood bedroom. The entirety of the house has been overhauled, and if you compared the ’96 pad to what my mother has in ‘13 one, you might not realize they’re the same place. The only thing that has endured throughout all of the changes is Jordan. I don’t see him moving any time soon.
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