Posted by: blackfootsmj1 | June 1, 2011

What do Faith and Michael Jordan have in common?


Growing up no child ever loved Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls more than I did. I loved basketball. Everything I did was about basketball. When I was a young child I would play basketball in my basement, by myself, for hours on end. One day it was so bad I went to my mom crying that my elbow hurt. I had played for so long, I had, what the doctor said, was the youngest case of tennis elbow he had ever seen.

The following year, as I started Kindergarten there was another boy in my class named Michael J. To avoid confusion I told the teacher she could just call me Michael Jordan; since that was my middle name. That whole semester the teacher called me Michael Jordan. I liked the sound of that a lot. Michael Jordan Johnson. It had a nice ring to it.

At the end of that semester my parents showed up for parent teacher conferences. As the teacher talked about me she would say

“Well, little Michael Jordan is doing great with learning to write his name”

or “Michael Jordan is such a little talker.”

When finally, my mom interrupted to say “I think you have the wrong child, my son’s name is really Michael Johnson. ”

The teacher politely said, “Oh, I know, there was another Michael J., so we decided to call him Michael Jordan since that was his middle name.”

My mom said, “Actually, his middle name is Robert.”

As I got older the trend only continued. I would have worn my Michael Jordan jersey, Air Jordans, and Chicago Bulls shorts to school every day if my mom would have let me.

I loved watching Michael Jordan play basketball. I thought one day I would be the star of my own high school basketball team and I would be just like him. I would pray every night that I would be six feet tall and athletic. I knew I could one day be just like him. The best basketball player ever.

I remembered this story and thought about it often as I read every book I could find about Michael Jordan:

Michael Jordan tried out for the varsity basketball team during his sophomore year, but at 5’11”, he was deemed too short to play at the varsity level. His taller friend, Leroy Smith was the only sophomore to make the team.

Motivated to prove his worth, Jordan became the star of Laney’s JV squad, and tallied several 40 point games. The following summer, Jordan grew four inches and trained as hard as he could. He then earned his spot on the varsity team where  Jordan averaged about 20 points per game over his final two seasons in High School. As a senior,  he was chosen to the McDonalds All-American team having  averaged a triple double: 29 points, 11 boards, and 10  assists a game. He then went on to play at the University of North Carolina and the rest is history.

I never was able to play high school basketball, I never had the work ethic, motivation, or faith to become great. As I got older my dream faded and I gave up on my hope of being a stellar basketball player. What was the difference? What was it that helped Michael Jordan get to where he was the greatest basketball player in the history of the game. Yes, some could argue it was his raw talent, others would say it was his large 6′ 6″ frame, but I would submit to you that it was one thing: His faith.

When we talk about faith it is often associated with religion. But the Prophet Joseph Smith taught in the “Lectures on Faith:”

Were this class to go back and reflect upon the history of their lives, from the period of their first recollection, and ask themselves what principle excited them to action, or what gave them energy and activity in all their lawful avocations, callings, and pursuits, what would be the answer? Would it not be that it was the assurance which they had of the existence of things which they had not seen as yet? Was it not the hope which you had, in consequence of your belief in the existence of unseen things, which stimulated you to action and exertion in order to obtain them? Are you not dependent on your faith, or belief, for the acquisition of all knowledge, wisdom, and intelligence? Would you exert yourselves to obtain wisdom and intelligence, unless you did believe that you could obtain them? Would you have ever sown, if you had not believed that you would reap? Should you have ever planted, if you had not believed that you would gather? Would you have ever asked, unless you had believed that you would receive? Would you have ever sought, unless you had believed that you would have found? Or, would you have ever knocked, unless you had believed that it would have been opened unto you? In a word, is there anything that you would have done, either physical or mental, if you had not previously believed? Are not all your exertions of every kind, dependent on your faith? Or, may we not ask, what have you, or what do you possess, which you have not obtained by reason of your faith? Your food, your raiment, your lodgings, are they not all by reason of your faith? Reflect, and ask yourselves if these things are not so. Turn your thoughts on your own minds, and see if faith is not the moving cause of all action in yourselves; and, if the moving cause in you, is it not in all other intelligent beings?

12. And as faith is the moving cause of all action in temporal concerns, so it is in spiritual; for the Saviour has said, and that truly, that “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.” Mark 16:16.

13. As we receive by faith all temporal blessings that we do receive, so we in like manner receive by faith all spiritual blessings that we do receive. But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth.

So how did Michael Jordan become the greatest basketball player ever? By faith. Why did I fail? I lacked faith. Faith is the very principle of action in our lives. All of our hopes, dreams, and aspirations are based up things not seen, which are true. We can hope and dream, but without the faith to motivate us to act we will fail. We will all fall short.

As you can also see from the story, Michael Jordan used not making his Varsity basketball team to increase his motivation and desire to succeed. Would you not agree that this increased his faith? When Michael Jordan was giving his Hall of Fame induction speech he even flew Leroy Smith out to see him get that prestigious award. Why? Because that event, when Leroy was picked over him as the only Sophomore to make the Varsity team, motivated Michael Jordan to work harder than ever. To give everything he had to being a successful basketball player. That work ethic continued for the rest of his career. He was always the first one in the gym, and the last one to leave. And Jordan knew it.

From the principles of faith we can learn how to handle adversity and how to change fear into faith. We can persevere. Give all we can. And let our hopes, desires, and greatest dreams propel us forward to what we want to be. We can choose today to be great or small, strong or weak, successful or failures. Our choices will determine our results. And our desires dictate what our choices will be. We are all free to choose who we will be and what we will become. But as for me, I choose to be great.

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  1. […] our best attempt to “stay on track.” We can all take on adversity, and make it into an opportunity for growth. In my bedroom I had a quote from Wayne Gretzky which said “You’ll always miss […]


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