The Cast of Characters
The 1990s Chicago Bulls had an amazing cast of characters, the biggest being Michael Jordan. After the NBA had transformed from a tape delayed league in the 1970s to an in-demand product in the 1980s, thanks mostly to the rivalry between Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird, Jordan took that transformation to another level.
By the end of his career, it’s hard to imagine there being many around the world who weren’t at least vaguely familiar with his exploits. He took a domestic product and made it internationalized gold. Patrick Mahomes is doing things the league has never seen and could be on a similar trajectory. His first two seasons he’s embodied the charismatic persona of a Michael Jordan, along with game changing exploits on the gridiron. For a league like the NFL who’s desperate to grow internationally, he might be the perfect ambassador.
The 1990s Bulls weren’t just Michael Jordan and the 2020s Chiefs won’t be just Patrick Mahomes. Supporting characters are key to any great story and few were better in that role than Scottie Pippen. The small school product, and former walk-on, became one of the greatest small forwards and best sidekicks the game of basketball has ever seen.
Travis Kelce fits this mold with ease. Kelce and Mahomes have what appears to be a budding relationship off the field, and that’s translated to an elite connection on the field. Kelce is one of Mahomes’ go to targets when the team is in a bind. While he can be overshadowed by Mahomes greatness, there’s no doubt how valuable he is to the team. As the best tight end in the league, he’s the type of player who could join any team and instantly be one of the best players on the roster.
Finally, there’s Dennis Rodman. A character seemingly out of a cartoon book, possessing uncanny defensive and rebounding abilities and a physique that made him an enforcer on the court. The Chiefs have a few of their own characters in Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu.
This is by no means a derogatory assessment, but an acknowledgement that Clark and Mathieu have each created a unique personna for themselves. Few would argue that they weren’t integral to the Chiefs Super Bowl victory, but it wasn’t just their play on the field. The ferocity with which each player emboldened their teammates and attacked the opponent was equally as important. Champions are not crowned by play alone, but by a mentality that forms long before they ever approach the throne.
In the end, the Bulls cast was assembled at the behest of Phil Jackson. The “Zen Master,” as he was referred to by some, had a unique ability to consistently bring superstars together to accomplish a singular goal. Andy Reid, or “Big Red” as he’s become affectionately known in Chiefs Kingdom, has done just the same. He’s a character in his own right, a players coach, and his style has reaped enormous benefits.