Few players in the history of any sport have enjoyed the sort of peak that Michael Jordan did. His dominance in the 90s was unquestionable, the Bulls won 6 NBA championships in 8 seasons with MJ. His popularity at the time was also through the roof; he was a household name around the world.
With everybody wanting to be 'like Mike', one would think that there was nothing that could bring Michael Jordan down. However big his legend might have been, Jordan was a human after all. And the pedestal that people placed him on added pressure to his life more than anything.
Even before he started winning, Jordan was the biggest superstar in the NBA. And in 1989, he gave GQ magazine a glimpse into his thought process. There were things that MJ feared too, he also had stories of being in intense pain, but he explained what the psychological ones were in the interview.
"Sometimes, Michael is awakened in the middle of the night by bad dreams. 'It's always something I have done,' he says. 'I have robbed a bank. Or I have done cocaine. I have succumbed to the pressures of drugs. I felt the pressure to drink. These are all nightmares.'
"He goes on: 'They're nightmares of something terrible happening to me that would destroy a lot of people's dreams or conceptions of me—that's the biggest nightmare I live every day. What if I make a mistake? How might that be viewed? Everybody feels it's easy to be Michael Jordan with all the good things happening to me, but the things that most scare me are the bad things—the things that would tear down Michael Jordan's image. That's the biggest fear I face.'
Jordan struggled through his career with speculation about his gambling, something he admitted to taking a toll on him. Being a hero to so many can be a burden of its own and no one knows that better than Michael Jordan. He earned his place in history as the GOAT but has since had to face his demons. Truly, there is no such thing as the perfect life, even for someone as great as Michael Jordan.