Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why Chris Chelios is not Michael Jordan

It's not the puck.

It's the pluck.

Both are tremendous athletes in their sport:  Chris Chelios is a former, long time NHL hockey player who is likely headed for the hockey hall of fame.  Michael Jordan is a basketball player who is in the NBA hall of fame.

But it's the retirement--or lack of--that have some people starting to compare them.  Michael Jordan is 46 years old and has retired three times, the last in 2003.  Chris Chelios is 47 years old and still playing hockey, albeit this year for a non-NHL team.  Some are starting to say that Chelios should call it quits already.  And for some reason, they are comparing his "twilight" to Jordan's.

They're wrong.

Chris Chelios is an interesting case of highly able person finding a way to do what he does best, and loves to do, in an arc that continues past the "professional" retirement threshold of his sport.  Unlike Jordan, Chelios never feinted at retirement.  He skates well, he shoots, he scores; he is willing to go to a team that will let him do that.

Even if that team is not the pinnacle of the sport.

Jordan wasn't going to go there.  Of course, for him to find an equivalent, he'd have to move to Europe.  But even so, one really gets the sense that Jordan wasn't happy being seen as anything but the best.

Therein lies what fascinates me about the two approaches.  Is it nobler to "leave at the top of your career," or put in as much service as one can?  It seems to me the animosity toward Chelios has more to do with fans who are not happy facing the idea of that "Chelly" is anything other than what he was--even if what he is is incredibly able, and quite possibly incredible.

The same story plays out in any number of career types, in any number of lives.  I've heard tales of orchestra musicians who held onto their chairs not only beyond their prime, but perhaps beyond their ability to meaningfully contribute to the group.

There are different contributions veterans offer beyond sheer talent, of course; experience in battle, on the boards, in the boardroom, tends to make for more depth in decision making and problem solving.  Sacrifice some talent for savvy, some punch for mentoring.

It's not a clear case of choosing between railing against that dark night, or slipping off in a hail of glory.

This reminds me of when discussions of plastic surgery come up.  I'm not going to go there.  Now.

I could also force an analogy to whether one should flat out retire a venerable or lauded scent should lack of materials or interference from regulations necessitate reforming the formula.  Another day.  Maybe.

This line of thinking makes me grateful for my Fleur de Narcisse.  It is beautiful, and L'Artisan made clear from the start that it was a one-time deal; no evolutions possible.

I, on the other hand, will likely evolve.  Best get thinking about just how I would like that to proceed.

Chelios.  Jordan.  Other.


The Daily Connoisseur said...

Your train(s) of thought are incredible. Only you could link these two athletes and their careers to perfume. Bravo!

ScentScelf said...

{I blush.}

Thanks, DC.