ANDY HEIM: ‘Michael Jordan is a larger than life figure’ and takeaways from The Last Dance

On Sunday, April 19, ESPN aired the first part of a Michael Jordan documentary entitled ‘The Last Dance.’ It has inspired plenty of conversation about Jordan’s influence on the game and comparisons to players who came after him. Today, we feature Bellmont girls basketball coach Andy Heim discussing Jordan’s influence in his eyes. These are his words:

“Mr. Heim, nice shoes…where did you get your J’s?”

I get this a lot on casual Friday as I usually come to school with a pair of Jordan’s on. Right now in my closet, I have seven pairs of Jordan shoes and check websites about once a week to see if I want to get some new ones. My 5-year-old son asks where his J’s are because his dad is a little crazy about Michael Jordan. Funny thing, most of those high school students who ask don’t even understand the influence Jordan had/has on people.

My son knows though, because I make him watch YouTube clips of Jordan before we go to bed. This is the influence that Michael Jordan imposes on people. 

Three posters splattered the walls of my middle school room: Bo Jackson, Jose Canseco, and Michael Jordan. Only one of those hero’s made it to my high school room: Jordan. The hoop earring, the clothes, the Kangol hat, the athleticism – from 5th grade until 12th grade I wanted to be Jordan – ok let’s be honest, I still want to be him so 5th grade to 41 years old.

He is a larger than life figure that has no idea the impact he has had on millions of people by just being himself. That drive is why I love coaching players that have passion about the game, that drive is what motivated me to be the best basketball player I could, that drive is what gets me through tough workouts to this day. 

This generation yells “Steph” when they shoot a long jumper. The generation before, shouted “Kobe.” But my generation didn’t just yell “Jordan” on our fade away shots, we wanted to emulate everything about Jordan. This is why the Jordan brand is so popular to this day. People still want to be Jordan. Tongue out when dunking, number 23 being the first jersey picked, the Jumpman logo: people want to be him…I want to be him.  

While I am watching this documentary about those Jordan Bulls teams, it makes me relive my childhood. I have been to six games that Jordan played in: five with the Bulls and one with the Wizards. Seeing these highlights on the documentary puts me back at those games, and the games I watched on TV. People need to remember that there was not the NBA season pass back in the 90’s. I can remember catching Bulls games on Saturday nights with my mom and dad sitting around the TV.

It was prime time because of Jordan. During those Bulls runs, I was infatuated with Jordan. I watched every playoff game, every nationally televised game and I talked Bulls basketball with anyone who would listen. The Bulls were a national phenomenon because Jordan was so charismatic. 

When it comes down to it, his intensity and demeanor is what draws me to him. He wanted to play the greatest sport in the world at the highest level possible and wanted to win at all costs. In other words, he was competitive. I tried (and still try) to match Jordan’s competitiveness in all aspects of my training. No athlete has had a bigger impact on me than Jordan and I still use the mantra of: “I wanna, wanna be like Mike…like Mike… if I could be like Mike.”

Baseline drive/reverse/back to baseline/then dunk on the Knicks.

Jumping on the table after the championship.

Final shot versus the Jazz.

The dunk contest.

The “flu” game.

The performance after his dad passed away.

The hands out/shoulder shrug game.

On and on and on.

These are ingrained in my mind. These moments are burnt into my memory and the memory of millions of sports fans across the world. And this is why Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever.

Andy Heim is the girls basketball coach at Bellmont High School in Decatur, Ind.

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