Flaming Michael Jordan


36″ x 24″ Handsewn Felt Applique

There’s Jordan escaping with his father to gamble in Atlantic City, the night before a playoff game against the New York Knicks.

There’s Dennis Rodman running off to Las Vegas with Carmen Electra for a 48-hour vacation in the middle of the 1998 season, and then heading to Detroit — in the middle of the Finals! — to wrestle with Hulk Hogan.

There’s Jackson riding off to his cabin in Montana every summer or leading guided meditation sessions instead of scrimmages.

And, of course, there is Jordan retiring after the 1993 season to play baseball, because he was absolutely exhausted from leading the Bulls to three straight titles and gutted by his father’s murder.

The kind of fire you need to perform at the level that Jordan, Jackson, Rodman and the rest of the Bulls did during their run is almost impossible to sustain in a healthy way for a long period of time.

There are escapes from it. Coping mechanisms. Attempts at balance. But that level of focus, desire and determination is inherently unstable. The best anyone who pushes themselves that hard can hope for is to recognize — in themselves and in others — when they have reached a breaking point, then channeling that energy into something that isn’t self-destructive.