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Michael Jordon Confronts Compromise in a Teammate

If any athlete was known for focus, it was Michael Jordan. In Jordan’s book, Driven from Within, Fred Whitfield, president and chief operating officer of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats basketball team, tells a fascinating story about something Jordan did while getting ready to go out one evening. When Jordan asked if he could borrow a jacket from Whitfield, he found that Whitfield’s closet was filled with both Nike and Puma products. The Nike outfits had been given to Whitfield because of his relationship with Jordan, who had a lucrative contract with the company. The Puma outfits had been given to Whitfield because of his relationship with ex-basketball player and Puma representative Ralph Sampson. Whitfield recalls that Jordan walked into the living room, laid all the Puma gear on the floor, and went into the kitchen to grab a butcher knife. When Jordan returned to the living room, he proceeded to cut all of the Puma clothes to shreds. He then picked up the scraps and carried everything to the dumpster. Once Jordan came back inside, he turned to Fred and said, "Don’t ever let me see you in anything other than Nike. You can’t ride the fence!"

Bill White, Paramount, California; source: Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger, Simple Church (B&H Publishing Group, 2006)

From a sermon by Bruce Rzengota, Losing in the End Game, 11/5/2009

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