Many reasons to be thankful for Michael
By Bill Walton
Special to ESPN.com
Thank you, Michael Jordan.
Thank you for your industriousness. Your hard work and careful planning provided so many worthwhile results, so much so that a vanquished opponent even retired your number.
Thank you for your friendship. Your relationships with both teammate and foe always seemed to come from mutual esteem, respect and devotion. It was never taken for granted and was the result of your tremendous effort and humility. Thanks for not being an arrogant bully. Thank you for never acting as if you were bigger than the game, even though you were big.
Thank you for your cooperation in all aspects of your incredibly demanding life. You listened when you wanted to be heard. You were always interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way. Thank you for giving us what we wanted, not what you wanted us to have.
Thank you for not retreating to your mansion on the hill.
Thank you for being concerned with the here and now and not your legacy.
Thank you for your enthusiasm. Your enjoyment of all that you do is such an inspiration to all whom you touch. Your fun became ours.
Thank you for your ambition for all the noble goals. We wanted you to be all things to all of us, but you kept it all in proper balance and perspective.
Thank you for realizing that when even one fan bought a ticket to see you play that you had the responsibility to perform at your greatest level possible.
Thank you for believing that the regular season matters.
Thank you for so many game-winners at the buzzer.
Thank you for winning the scoring title in the same year you won Defensive Player of the Year.
Thank you for your self-control. You played with discipline, always keeping your emotions under control. You regularly exhibited good judgment and common sense.
Thank you for your alertness. You never stopped observing and were always open-minded. Your eagerness to learn and improve set the standard to which we all aspire.
Thank you for your initiative. Thanks for your ability to make decisions and to be true to your convictions. We appreciate you not being afraid of failure and your willingness to learn from it.
Thanks for your commitment to education and mental training while so many thought it was purely about the physical.
Thank you for showing us that there is more to life than material accumulation and physical gratification.
Thank you for answering the media's questions when things did not go your way.
Thanks for not blaming the messenger when others said things about you that you might not like or agree with.
Thank you for your sincerity that has allowed each of us to remain your friend over the long haul.
Thank you for your adaptability to the changing times.
Thank you for your unparalleled level of fitness. Thank you for your moderation and dissipation. Thank you for giving us your best, even when you were sick, broken and hurt.
Thank you for your flawless skill level. Thanks for your knowledge and ability to quickly and properly execute the fundamentals of life. Thanks for always being prepared and for your attention to every little detail.
Thank you for continuing to point out that players make plays. Plays don't make players.
Thank you for your complete and selfless commitment to the team and its spirit. Thank you for your genuine consideration of others. Thank you for your eagerness to sacrifice your personal interests and glory for the welfare of the team.
Thank you for showing us how to derive joy from the successes of your teammates.
Thank you for your honesty, in thought and action.
Thank you for your resourcefulness in exercising proper judgment.
Thank you for always showing class and dignity in the face of extreme sorrow, sadness, hardship and the rare defeat.
Thank you for the poise you showed by just being yourself. Thank you for being at ease in any situation and for never fighting yourself.
Thank you for dressing with great style and playing with even greater style.
Thank you for your confidence and for having respect without fear. Thanks for always being prepared and for keeping all things in proper perspective.
Thank you for your reliability which has led to our undying respect.
Thank you from SportsCenter.
Thank you for not succumbing to the hype and self-promotion of today's world.
Thank you for never forgetting the legions of young fans and holding basketball camps during the offseason in Chicago and California.
Thank you for keeping your ego under control.
Thank you for your determined efforts and fighting spirit.
Thank you for not accepting mediocrity in your teammates.
Thank you for setting such high standards that became the means of comparisons in the public consciousness. "He or she is the Michael Jordan of ..."
Thank you for your competitive greatness and for always being at your best when your best was needed. Thanks for showing us how to live for, and enjoy, the most difficult of challenges.
Thank you for revolutionizing the advertising world in corporate boardrooms, not just for the benefit of NBA players but for athletes in all sports.
Thanks for giving every NBA player the greatest standard of living they could ever imagine or hope to have, to say nothing of future generations.
Thank you for helping to transform the NBA from a successful American sport to a global phenomenon that transcends all races, genders and endless other boundaries.
Thank you for all the new arenas after filling the old ones to the rafters.
Thanks for bringing a championship image to the city of Chicago.
Thank you for your integrity and your purity of intention. Thanks for not telling us how great you are and for not reading stories in the press about your charitable contributions and good deeds -- even though those were numerous.
Thank you for tirelessly working on your game during the summer -- every year.
Thank you for coming to practice.
Thank you for always showing us that you cared and for making us do the same.
Thank you for the emotions -- the laughter, the tears, the pride, the joy, the hope, the optimism, the happiness.
Thank you for your leadership.
Thank you for obliging as many of the endless waves of autograph requests that you possibly could in a short 24-hour period.
Thank you for standing up for truth and justice.
Thank you for your sense of responsibility and accountability.
Thank you for not taking the game for granted even after all the championships and individual honors.
Thank you for your faith -- which led to ours.
Thank you for your patience.
And, finally Michael, thank you for your longevity. We all wanted more but you gave us all that you had.
The rest is now up to us.
Bill Walton, who is a regular contributor to ESPN.com, is an NBA analyst and shares his thoughts on "NBA Shootaround" at 7:30 p.m. every Friday for ESPN.