The progress of technology allows a fast spread of information, which allows the common man to know what is happening and to know what those in power were doing. Knowledge gives power to the people. Look at the cultural revolution of the US in the 1960s with the emergence of the hippies. Why was this generation of Americans protesting war after centuries of belief in Manifest Destiny? What made the switch? How did this generation form? It was because of the growth of mass media. The Vietnam War was the first war where videos, not just pictures were streamed from the battlefield. A new type of soldier of the people emerged, armed not with a rifle but a camera. Here was your image of Manifest Destiny: a village of boys and girls whose skin was charred by American napalm. Some images once seen cannot be unseen and will shatter any misconceptions you may have had. War is not glorious, but is horrible. The people would no longer support the fabrications of the government. The USA could no longer go conquering foreign lands as it had always done in its history. Knowledge via TV gave power to the people to stop dictatorship in the White House. In the same way, knowledge via the internet gave people the power to stop dick-tatorship in sports.
Michael Jordan was the first of his kind, an electrifying scoring machine. The media and kids everywhere loved him for it. But they blissfully ignored his doucebag nature. I remember watching the 1998 Finals like game 2 or 3 when Scottie Pippen took and made the game winning shot, and Jordan yelled at him for not passing. And the world's reaction to his Airness douchebaggery? Give him a cartoon movie that will make kid's love him, and give him a commercial full of propaganda of kids saying "I Want To Be Like Mike". It would make sense that corporations loved him and gave him advertising contracts, because like Mike, CEOs are dicks. They thrive on cut throat competition, and putdown of others. They cleverly masked Jordan's doucheness with commercials that appealed to the masses (normal sports fans like myself). This is pretty much like state controlled media. But now that we have the internet, where some amateur bloggers get almost as much traffic as ESPN.com, we can get the unfiltered truth about players' personalities.
The internet wasn't really common until 2000, and Jordan's prime years were from the mid 80s to mid 90s. People liked his determination and drive to win, but that was the only part of his personality they knew. If Jordan had a Twitter while he played, people would be appalled at his lack of understanding of others. Lebron's "The Decision" would be child's play compared to stuff Jordan would say and do. It is sad that today's players have to deal with the microscope on them.
Kobe was disliked on Shaq's Lakers not only because of his ball hogging but moreso because of his tendency of being a loner. If Kobe played in 1985, no one would criticize him because no one would know. Kobe recently got owned in the media for calling a referee "fag". How many teammates and refs did Jordan call "fag"? More than I can count with my fingers and toes. As much as I dislike Lebron, I gotta feel bad for him also. He was loved by the media and received praise he didn't earn. And after "The Decision", he's hated by the media and is receiving hate he doesn't deserve. Lebron thought he could refer to himself in the third person like Jordan did and not get grilled. Nope, wrong era buddy. Can't do it anymore.
Jordan got a douchebag-hall pass from 1984-1998. But he made a critical mistake in 2009 at his speech in his Hall of Fame Induction. He thought he could say whatever he wanted, because Nike and Gatorade and six championships had turned him into a god. He didn't think through the consequences that his speech would be put up on youtube to be seen by millions of viewers. He didn't know that ESPN writers and anchors were gonna criticize what he said. But it happened, and Jordan was as unapologetic as ever. Nothing flowed from his mouth but insults. To contrast, David Robinson was also inducted that same night. In his speech he thanked his family for inspiring him to be a better man. In Jordan's speech, he insulted his sons by saying "I wouldn't want to be you guys", referring to the big shoes they have to fill (they are playing college ball right now). I saw the speech live, and years of brainwashing were undone. In 1998, I wanted to be like Mike. But now, I want to be anything but.
His speech if you care to see a legend crashing and burning: