There are few bigger compliments you can pay someone than calling them the “Michael Jordan of…” whatever it is they do. As the Wall Street Journal noted in 2015, there have been Michael Jordans of jousting, Michael Jordans of yodeling, Michael Jordan’s of bagpiping. Jay-Z once called himself the “Michael Jordan of the mic recording” (then compared his rivals to Harold Minor, J.R. Rider, Pervis Ellis and Shawn Bradley).
So when Skip Bayless brags about being dubbed the “Michael Jordan of debaters,” you know he thinks quite highly of himself. Asked on the Beyond the Athlete web show whether anyone can out-debate him, Bayless replied:
Magic Johnson once called me the Michael Jordan of debaters, so I’m afraid there isn’t anyone. If I’m Michael Jordan, and he is obviously the greatest player ever in any sport, I’m not sure there’s a rival out there. If you sat in the hot seat that Shannon sits in every day, I think you would melt fairly quickly.
Bayless said Undisputed co-host Shannon Sharpe was his toughest competitor ever “by far,” but that Sharpe had never beaten him.
“I have never lost a single debate on Undisputed, and so he is always wrong,” Bayless said. “But he always tries.”
Here’s the clip:
Did you notice how Skip says that being like Mike means having no rival? He can’t even praise himself without taking little digs at LeBron James.
What’s kind of amusing about this video is that Skip is only half in character. The words coming out of his mouth resemble those of the boisterous, never-wrong persona he assumes on television, but he’s got a certain sheepishness about him that suggests some self-awareness. It’s almost jarring to see him like that.
Though we probably wouldn’t call Skip the Michael Jordan of coherent opinions or the Michael Jordan of intellectual honesty, you could probably argue he’s the Michael Jordan of sports debate TV, given that he has convinced two different networks to pay him seven-figure salaries.
The question becomes whether being the Michael Jordan of sports debate TV is a title anyone should actually want to have.