Three years ago when Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney called Deshaun Watson “Michael Jordan” people lost their minds. After watching the 10 part documentary “The Last Dance”, Swinney nailed it.
It is clear that what made Michael Jordan better than everyone else was not simply talent alone. Every guy in the NBA could dunk, make layups, pass, and play defense. What separated Michael Jordan was his work ethic, willingness to sacrifice, and make everyone around him better.
Michael was willing to give up any and everything in order to be the best. He hated losing more than he enjoyed winning and he did everything in his power to lose as little as possible. He studied his opponents and surrounded himself with people that could help him achieve his goals.
Clemson football is where they are because of Deshaun. As much as Clemson fans like to credit to C.J. Spiller, DeAndre Hopkins, or Tajh Boyd for helping establish the current version of Clemson football, Clemson is where it is because of Deshaun.
Deshaun had to be the best on and off the field. He worked tirelessly to lead by example and get the other 110 guys on the roster to buy into him. He was a walking cliché – he was the first one there and the last one to leave.
Graduating college with honors in three years while playing a sport at the highest level takes a level of dedication that most people cannot fathom. Deshaun Watson made it look easy, the great ones always do.
He refused to lose and played through injuries. As good as Deshaun was against Alabama in 2015 and 2016, his best performance was against South Carolina as a freshman. Leading the Tigers onto the field and ending the five-game winning streak Carolina had at the time on one knee is legendary.
“Let’s be legendary” – these were the words he told his offense in 2016 with two minutes left against Alabama. You can have that confidence because you did everything you were supposed to in order to get to that point.
Michael Jordan understood that being a leader meant that guys were not always going to like and there were some teammates he was going to have to drag to be champions. Watch film of Deshaun, there were times he got into his teammates on the field and there definitely times he did it in practice. He may not have belittled teammates the way Jordan did at the time, but the essence of leadership is the same in both.
Becoming a champion means you are willing to do things that the winner is not. You are willing to make sacrifices that the average person will never make and after watching “The Last Dance” there is no doubt that Deshaun Watson has most of the same qualities that Michael Jordan does, we just didn’t know Michael had them until now.