Aside from the partially abbreviated name on the back his black UCF jersey – “M Jordan” – there was something quietly special about the Knights’ point guard, something that ignited a few stray neurons in the back of my brain – the little chunk of gray matter that tracks all things basketball. It whispered that, on the court right in front of me, I was seeing something faintly reminiscent. When I wached the kid slash through Charleston’s pack of frontline defenders yesterday then promptly pull up and pop an elegant and off-balance mid-range jumper, I thought: No. It can’t be. It isn’t.
He is noticeably smooth when squeezing into the paint’s pounding traffic. From the arc, he is savvy, directing teammates with loud authority behind his thick-framed eye glasses. But I had to make sure my subconscious was telling me the truth. So last night I asked a dumb – if not clumsy – journalistic question of the University of Central Florida announcer I’ve gotten to know in the Bahamas.
“Hey, need to check with you: is that Michael Jordan’s kid?”
“I’ll give you a pass on that one,” UCF’s announcer Erik Kohler, told me with smile and more than a tinge of disbelief. “I’ll give you a big pass because you’re a good guy and you don’t usually cover this team. But yeah, that’s M.J.’s son.”
I’ll take that pass. Just like the sweet dishes Marcus Jordan has bounced and zipped to his Knights teammates at the Battle 4 Atlantis. A junior from – where else? – Chicago, Marcus is 6-3, a tad shorter than his Hall-of-Fame, ueber-famous dad. He carried his Whitney Young High School to an Illinois state crown. And he then lugged that enormous name – and, frankly, that elite Jordan brand – to UCF.
Marcus admits that dealing with any comparisons between his father and himself has been “tough at times.” Some Knights fans have bashed him because he doesn’t possess – yet, or maybe, ever – that same once-in-a-generation talent as M.J. The critics grew louder last season after Orlando-based UCF opened up 14-0 and upset Florida. But the Knights sputtered in late winter, finishing with just seven wins in their final 19 games, dropping to ninth place in Conference USA.
To soothe his nerves, Marcus had a little chat with his dad who schooled him not to worry about the haters. He urged his son to “just play your game.” Marcus listened and followed the fatherly advice. His mind felt clearer, his shoulders lighter. He began to believe “no one could guard me.”
And truth be told, Marcus is utterly at home and comfortable in Atlantis.
“He pretty much grew up down here,” said UCF announcer Kohler. The resort’s two Royal Towers are connected by the mammoth “Michael Jordan” suite – dubbed such because that lofty space was the NBA Hall-of-Famer’s favorite spot to stay when he came to Bahamas to play golf and relax with his kids.
At this hour, Marcus Jordan is not relaxing. He is guarding UConn’s Shabazz Napier, likely a future NBA pick. Michael’s boy gets no rest today on Paradise Island.
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