To Michael Jordan, On His Biley-First Birthday

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Everybody popping corks on Friday, February 17. Larry the Cable Guy and the ghost of Yasser Arafat (at the same table!) and Neil Lomax and yours truly and the Shredded Husky Cut Denim With The Smartphone Holster Don Right There On The Belt Loop Like WHUH himself, Michael Jordan. Here's (proposing a $175,000 prop bet) to you, man!

Someday, we'll do a Jordan Week or Jordan Month or something here, and we can all work on exorcising or explicating our very important feelings for and about the greatest basketball player of his generation, and our feelings about what a spectacular sour patch turd of a human being he has revealed himself to be in post-playing days. Shoals and I are already on the record, here and at New York Magazine, respectively, with regard to his role in the lockout, and surely there are some Bobcats fans out there with something to say about his management strategies.

But we'll get to that, if and when we ever get to that. For now, it's a day to celebrate a guy who was so good at basketball that it turned him into someone who was just terrible at being a decent or even functional human being. Which means that it's a fine day to revisit Joey Litman's classic exercise in speculative memoir "My Best Worst Friend," from Free Darko:

"I got through my email, I got some paperwork in order, I moved on to other administrivia, and suddenly it was 11:15. I got up for a cup of water and some small talk with a few office friends. As we were chatting, my right pant pocket started vibrating, so I reached in, pulled out my phone, and hit the talk button without really considering the caller ID.

"Is this that flaming f***ot Joey?" a baritone grumbled through the phone. "You there, you punk bitch?" I don't like the f-word, and I don't like being called a "punk bitch," but I couldn't stifle my smile because nothing had changed: Michael was on the phone. I excused myself from the conversation with my colleagues, and I ducked into a vacant conference room...

I hadn't really said anything since answering the phone because Michael just kept going. "That's right, motherfucker, I'm in town, I'm heading to the gym later, and I'm looking to whoop someone's ass. You know you owe me one. You know it, bitch. So get your shit, leave that cute little job of yours for a few hours, and come meet me at the gym."

Read on to learn more about Joey Litman's game of H.O.R.S.E. with the greatest, saddest basketball player of all time. Happy birthday, everyone!

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