I used to believe the most famous person on earth had to be a Hollywood icon, like Tom Cruise, or the US President, like Obama. But in recent weeks, I’ve started wondering if Jay-Z has taken the title, because dude is everywhere.
He’s all over my Twitter timeline, all day, everyday. And my Twitter follows, like my hobbies and interests, are diverse and all over the place: Films. Indie Music. NBA. Writing. Comics. Tech. Hong Kong/Japanese shit. And Jay, somehow, appears in most of these tweets.
Example: In the past two weeks, I’ve seen Hov appear in political news (US Congress questioning Mr and Mrs Carter’s Cuba trip), Hollywood news (Jay scores The Great Gatsby soundtrack), indie film festival news (Jay is one of the producers of An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, which will make rounds around festivals soon), sports news (Jay started his own sports agency, which will partner with CAA to become a sports monopoly that could corrupt college/high school recruiting, but that’s another rant for another day), corporate news (Jay selling his shares of Brooklyn Nets), celebrity gossip news (his marriage to Beyonce) and, oh yeah, music news.
Outside of Twitter, he’s in one of the highest selling video games of 2013 (NBA 2K), his catch phrases are used by today’s “trendy, street-style” cats (for example, a popular HK food blog is named ThatFoodCray; check any street-style fashion blog and you’ll see a Chinese or white girl, doing the whole “Brooklyn thang”), and Brooklyn Nets shirts and baseball caps are a lock to appear in K/J/Canto-pop music videos aiming to be “hip” this year.
Last year? He hosted Obama’s biggest fundraiser. He opened the billion dollar Barclay Center with seven straight sold out concerts. He was the face of the first pro sports team in Brooklyn in four decades. His baby with Beyonce took over entertainment news.
The man is ubiquitous.
Which brings me to the actual point of this post, and this blog. Jay-Z — the self proclaimed “Mike Jordan of Recording” — references Michael Jordan in his songs often. And since his songs are everywhere, so too, are these Jordan mentions, some of which may be lost on non-fans.
For example, in N***** in Paris, Jay drops this flow:
I’m liable to go Michael, take your pick/Jackson, Tyson, Jordan, Game Six
When I watch the music video for this track, made up of live concert footage from around the world, I see thousands and thousands of people, from all walks of life — for example, white chicks in France; Korean dudes — scream “Game Six.” This puts a smile on my face, because that’s a direct homage to Jordan’s greatness, even if most of the cats screaming it are unaware.
Jay was almost certainly referring to game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, when Jordan had arguably the most clutch minute in the history of sports: With his Chicago Bulls down one, Jordan scored a quick bucket, stripped Karl Malone of the ball, then hit the championship-clinching jumper over Bryon Russell.
But that’s not the only notable Game Six of Jordan’s career. In fact, Jordan clinched five of his six titles in the sixth game. Outside of the Finals, Jordan’s destroyed a few other cities in the sixth game too.
And so, here is a random list of other important Game Sixes in the career of Michael Jordan, the Greatest Of All Time.
1993 Eastern Conference Finals, New York at Chicago
Following the stunning ending to game 5, aka The Charles Smith Game (which I wrote about briefly for New York Magazine), many figured the Knicks would roll over in game 6. Not the case. The Knicks jumped out to an early lead, continued their physical play — including several hard fouls on Scottie Pippen and Jordan — and remained competitive until the final minutes. Jordan was obviously tired in this game, with many of his jumpers falling short, going 8 for 24 overall. Still, he contributed in other ways, racking up 9 assists by setting up teammates for easy buckets. This win completed the Bulls’ comeback from down 2-0 in the series, which, at the time, had all of America believing the Bulls were done.
1993 NBA Finals, Chicago at Phoenix
Ah, the win that clinched the threepeat, a feat that had not been done in the NBA since the 1960s. Many believe this Phoenix Suns squad, led by Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, and Dan Majerle, was the best of Jordan’s five Finals opponents (Bulls played the Jazz twice), and I tend to agree with that notion. Barkley was at the peak of his powers here, and Kevin Johnson was the most explosive guard the Bulls had seen yet in the 90s (sorry Magic). It took an insane scoring series by Jordan, averaging 41 points, to pull this off. Jordan dropped 33, 8, 7 here.
1997 NBA Finals, Utah at Chicago
Everyone remembers the game winner in game 1 and game 5, now forever known as “The Flu Game”, but this game 6 was a gem too. Jordan carried the offensive load with 39 points, and when the game was on the line, Jordan passed it to Steve Kerr for the game winner.
So yeah, Jay-Z may be the most famous person on earth right now, but know that he idolizes Michael Jordan, because Jordan represented everything a young Jay wanted to be — a black man who dominated White America and its corporate culture while maintaining his street bravado.
That’s essentially Jay right now.