Thirty years ago I almost got caught in the crossfire in a very nasty fight between two men. If I had gotten hurt it would have been my fault for sticking around to watch the fight.
I can’t tell you how it started or whether I would hold one party at fault over the other, but I can tell you why it was so intriguing to me.
The two men were ancient. They were old guys who looked to me like they belonged in some sort of assisted living facility, at least that is how I remember it. Truth is that 30 years ago they might have been 50 and I would have seen them as being old. Perspective is a funny thing sometimes.
What I can tell you for certain is that they were fighting over whether Mickey Mantle was a better player than Joe Dimaggio.
Who Was Better?
I am too young to have watched either man play so I can’t make a decision based upon that. All I can do is review their stats, watch old footage, read old newspaper clips and listen to the stories of those who watched them play.
We can set aside the discussion about what the significance and or importance is of determining who the greatest was and accept that these discussions are timeless and universal.
Thirty years later I listen to my son and his friends debate who the greatest basketball player is and I smile.
I am a diehard Laker fan who came of age during the Showtime era of the ’80s. I watched Magic and Kareem lead the guys to multiple championships. I cursed the Celtics and the pooh poohed the Pistons.
In between it all I slowly came to admit that Michael Jordan was on a different level than the rest. It wasn’t an easy admission and I’ll readily grant that we had multiple discussions about who you build a team around, Magic or Michael.
But those discussions are long since gone and as time passes Jordan’s legacy has been impacted. The younger generations who didn’t see him play don’t see him in the same way as the older. Sure there are some who for various reasons agree with those who say he was the greatest, but their numbers are a bit thin.
Take a look at the video below. It was made before LeBron James and company won the 2012 NBA championship. It is pretty clear whose side the author of the video takes, but it does a good job of illustrating that time passes and memoriesare impacted
History is not just written by the victors. It is also written by those who remember.