The Biology of Belief: A Michael Jordan Comeback?


The Bobcats Are In Need of a Scorer.  Is Michael Jordan the Answer?

Can MJ pull a Stallone?

Henry Abbott over at’s TrueHoop has posted an intriguing piece on the plausibility of a Michael Jordan comeback.

MJ, after all, started all of this chatter a couple of weeks ago when he made the following comments during his Hall of Fame induction speech:

“One day you might look up and see me playing the game at 50. Don’t laugh. Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”

Abbott cites the story of Jure Robic, a Slovenian cyclist (no relation to Primoz Brezec) who has repeatedly won races by doing things a little different.  Robic ignores common human frills like “sleeping” and “eating” in order to speed past his competition.  (One of the side effects of this strategy is that Robic temporary goes insane, accusing mailboxes of terrorism, going on rampages in his neighborhood, etc.)  Abbott goes on to say that:

Some researchers argue that the body may be able to perform far more than we ever imagined — if you can trick your brain into letting the muscles do the work. The limits that were once thought to reside in the muscles are now, some researchers say, really in the mind.

None of this is news to those of us who’ve studied alternative medicine, integrated medicine or spontaneous healing.  Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of the book “The Biology of Belief” has put forth these claims for over a decade.  Lipton believes that the “programming” of stem cells, in fact, is a subliminal request from the subconscious mind to the body – meaning that whatever is on your mind (whether it be athletic dominance or cancer), your body will attempt to fulfill.  So if Robic can program his body to reject sleep and food while he cycles 3,000 miles across North America, could a 46-year old, similarly delusional Michael Jordan play at a high level for an entire 82 game season?

Abbott is inconclusive in his post.  He calls up Attack Athletics (Jordan’s former trainers) and openly asks if a (near) 50 year old could play in the NBA.

In general, Procopio didn’t sound at all sure such an achievement was possible. But that was talking about athletes generally. Would Jordan — a man of unquestioned will — be subjected to the same limitations?
“Oh no no no no,” Procopio says. “I’m talking about everybody else.”

How is the unmeasurable defined?  How is Steve Nash more dominant than Sean Singletary?  How is Andre Miller more successful than Marcus Williams?  At what point would Jordan’s body be unable to perform the requests put forth by his mind?  Does that point even exist?

This past March I had the pleasure of traveling with some friends to a yoga and healing center in Kathmandhu.  My wife and I were bestowed the honor of staying in the “Sun Yogi” room – named so because it is where Sun Yogi stays when he’s in town.  I had met Sun Yogi about a year prior to this when he had visited Thailand, teaching his legendary “sun meditation” technique.  What is this legendary “sun meditation” technique, you might ask?  Well, it basically means that you don’t eat.  Ever.  You get your energy from the sun and Sun Yogi has purportedly not taken in a bite of food in over a decade.

As wonderful a human being as Sun Yogi is, I have to say that I wasn’t buying his story.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like he was built like Charlie Weis or anything – the dude’s rails thin – my mind just couldn’t accept it.  A human being has to eat…right?

Whether it be by material technology or esoteric belief systems, it can’t be denied that human beings (unlike the Bobcats) have made a great deal of progress since our inception.  Maybe Michael Jordan can come back and play meaningful minutes.  Maybe he can achieve it through new techniques in traditional medicine and athletic training.  Maybe he can achieve it through a series of Stallone-grade HGH treatments.  (Did anybody see Rocky Balboa or John Rambo?  That guy is ridiculously ripped and he’s only five years younger than Bobby Cox!  That said, imagine if Bobby Cox discovered HGH.  I can’t think of anything funnier right now…seriously, I’m gonna have to stop writing about it before I soil myself.)
Or maybe MJ can achieve all of this with his mind.

Wasn’t it R. Kelly (in a song from the “Space Jam” soundtrack nevertheless) who sang, “I believe I can fly…”

Alright, alright.  Enough of this hippy, positive attitude crap.  Lets get back to stuff that really matters, like the Charlotte Bobcats!

So lets say that this really happens.  Realistically, MJ is going to need another two or three months (at least) to get into shape so maybe he’s on the roster following the All-Star break.
I don’t think that you bring him off of the bench.  A guy that age will be too cold.  Get him started during warm-ups, start the game and play a total of 12-18 minutes a night.  I think MJ gives you at least 10ppg in that scenario and adds a serious weapon during crunch time.  Consequently his starting the game delays pretty much every away date by around seven or eight minutes due to a standing “O.”  MJ Bobcats jersey sales light up the merchandise numbers and Bob Johnson sees a sharp upgrade in the team’s market value.

MJ and the Cats - Post AllStar Break

The starting five is ideal for Jordan.  Diaw, Wallace, Chandler and Felton are all above-average defenders and the pace of Larry Brown’s offense benefits a 47-year old MJ (he turns a year older on Feb. 17th).  Chandler (and in reserve, Diop) can hang around the paint and clean up when MJ’s man blows past him on the perimeter.
On offense, the starters are ideal as well.  Six years ago, MJ scored 20ppg on 45% shooting while playing 37 minutes per game.  It is reasonable to think that Jordan could keep the high shooting percentage and rebound rate (6rpg) while playing limited minutes for the Bobcats in 2010.  The nice thing about having Jordan around late in the 4th quarter is that he gives you a “Specialist” type player who not only CAN hit the big shot when the team needs it but WANTS to hit the shot.  Think: A Middle-Aged Ben Gordon.  Coming out of a timeout with fifteen seconds on the clock, Jordan could still potentially be deadly.

The beauty with MJ starting is now you have two backup SGs (either Raja Bell or Gerald Henderson) to play starters minutes off of the bench or replace MJ entirely if he happens to miss any time due to injury.  So basically anything that Jordan gives you on the court (outside of marketing and attendance) is gravy.

Post MJ Lineup - 2nd Unit

Now I’m pumped!  This makes total sense.  Lets get this done.  Yes, it’s a circus but it would be so much goofy fun that it may let us all temporarily forget the pain of being a Charlotte Bobcats fan.

So MJ, put down that cigar and pick up some Macca Powder, Bee Pollen, Goat’s Yoghurt, Goji Berries and Spirulina.  Schedule a conference call with Deepak Chopra ASAP.  Call your girl Oprah, she knows him well.

MJ for MVP in 2010!

-A.S. Chin