Saturday, 8 October 2011

A Tale of 3 Jordans

During my childhood, when I was just getting to know more about sports, the only Jordan that I've ever heard of was, His Airness, the NBA Legend, Michael Jordan. Then, NBA weekly highlights were shown on TV for free and the NBA Playoffs were shown live. That was also in the early nineties where Magic Johnson's Showtime era was giving way to Jordan's Bulls' total domination.

As kids, we were the most impressionable bunch. With just a basketball court right below our block, my neighbours  and I would almost daily be at the court imitating our heroes' moves and honing our skills at the same time, with some improvisation done to suit our abilities. Just imagine, the NBA players are so tall that it seems dunking is just another movement to them. For us, a bunch of 13 to 17 years old boys who are even having problems touching the backboard of the net, naturally had to improvise to imitate some of the beautiful movements. Michael Jordan may have made his Hangtime dunk, a global image (leaping off with ball in one hand and legs wide apart, soaring through the air and dunking through the air in one fluid motion, poetry in motion), we manage to imitate that, abeit substituting the dunking with a simple layup.

With Magic Johnson 'forced' to retire, his Showtime gave way to Jordan's Hangtime. In fact it was a total domination by the Chicago Bulls throughout the 90's. With back to back titles from 1991 to 1993, Jordan retired to pursue his interests in baseball, but he could only be part of the Minor League. With his retirement, the Bulls also suffered as Scottie Pippen and Tony Kukoc had to fill in the hugh void left behind by Jordan. The Bulls still managed to get to the playoff stages but could not win another title for the next 2 seasons, until Jordan decided to come back. Together with Jordan, Pippen and Dennis Rodman, they again dominated the next 3 seasons with back to back titles. And during these 3 seasons, the Bulls also set the 2 best season win-loss record in history. Their record of 72 wins and 10 losses still stands today.

As I was growing up through the years, I've also got to know about a country named Jordan. Even up to now, I don't actually know much about Jordan's development as a country. The only thing I know is that our National football team will be playing them next Tuesday in a World Cup Qualifier. We did played against Philippines last night as a tune up match to prepare for the crucial tie in Jalan Besar. If we can identify the Philippines as a worthy preparation, I don't think Jordan will prove much of a problem to us. This thoughts are based on the facts that Phillippines were always one of the whipping boys in the region and their opponents will always have a fun day racking up goals and records. But things changes.

Since their surprise run in the last Suzuki Cup, the have shown that they do have the ability to match the top nations in South East Asia. And with their 'foreign' imports, they are no longer the whipping boys. In fact last night at Jalan Besar, the papers also reported that it was like the Lucky Plaza, with the Filipinos outnumbering the local supporters. I was watching the match at home and it seemed to me that the Filipinos were screaming and shouting at their footballing idols with every chances and opportunities. It was more like a home game, or rather idols appearance for the Philippines. I mean, Singaporeans are more pragmatic in their approach. It was raining rather heavily before, and with a meaningless friendly, why go?

Maybe FAS can try to take a leaf of how Philippines does it, when football is not even one of their top 3 supported sports. However they did managed to make real life idols out of the footballers.

Coming to third Jordan, I was at the Hougang Stadium 2 nights ago to watch a S League match in a long while. My preference to watch at Hougang is very simple, as I just stay within walking distance from the stadium. The Hougang Cheetahs defeated Tanjong Pagar Jaguars 4-3, and there was definitely some entertaining football served by the 2 teams. Maybe due to the heavy rain prior to kickoff and the constant drizzling throughout the match, the pitch don't look very good for a professional league and probably contributed to the fact that the game looked a bit scrappy at times. So where did Jordan come from?

The Cheetahs have a player named Jordan Webb and according to TNP's report, he was also the record scorer for them in a single season. Watching him play, especially in the first half was an absolute delight. He have pace, skills and trickery to fool the opponents into committing mistakes, and even contributed 1 assist for his team with a mazing run through Tanjong Pagar's defence.

Perhaps the heavy pitch took a lot out of him in the first half, and he didn't seemed the same in the second half. For the record, the Cheetahs were leading 3-0 and somehow let the Jaguars came back to draw level at 3-3 with 10 minutes to go. With nothing to lose, the Cheetahs went for last ditched all out attack and managed to claim a crucial winner in stoppage time, with Jordan Webb scoring. Looking at his body language when he was jogging back to his half, he is definitely spent.

My afterthoughts of the game, maybe the FAS or S League, or maybe the Hougang United can do some marketing or publicity campaign for this player. I thought that appearance and playing style do resemble Nani to certain extent. If we can make Jordan Webb an idol in local football, maybe more crowds might be interested. It could not only be Jordan Webb, it can be other players who has the certain X factor to pull in the crowds. I mean, if Wayne Rooney's face can appear on so many things and become the England's 'saviour', why can't we do the same for our local football? Maybe we can do some local reality sports competition involving them and name the competition, Singapore Football Idol!!!

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