You know, there's something to be said for seeing history made in real time. I think that's why I was so inclined to forgive Kobe Bryant for a retirement tour that was more than occasionally downright gruesome to watch. He was one of the first all-time great athletes who had a lengthy, Hall Of Fame career that I was able to coherently witness from start to finish. It's for that reason I am having a tough time putting into words how I feel about Muhammad Ali. Thoughtlessly posting a bunch of emojis of farm animals and the hashtag 'GOAT' doesn't feel like enough, but I also don't want to say that I truly understand just how important of a public figure he was. The truth is, I don't. I would bet that no one reading this really does. I could watch all the documentaries in the world and I still wouldn't completely comprehend just how much of an impact he had on the political, religious, and socioeconomic landscape of this country. The only thing I can definitively say about Muhammad Ali is that who he was as a person and as an athlete transcends what can be appropriately whittled down into an hour long production. Just listen to the people that were alive to see him perform and it becomes blatantly obvious that he transcends the entire rabbit hole of YouTube videos you will inevitably fall down trying to educate yourself on his accomplishments.
What DO I know about Muhammad Ali? Well for one, I know that his brash, egomaniacal personality is basically the apex of what we see from the modern day athlete. A level of showmanship in the ring that would make Floyd Mayweather seem humble. A cockiness outside of the ring that leave Conor McGregor grasping for self-affectionate adjectives. A combination of arrogance and confidence that make Kanye West look like an insecure high school bully. If Muhammad Ali's prime was taking place as we speak he would be the single most polarizing person on the entire planet. Fuck Donald Trump, If Ali was Ali right now people would choose who to vote for (or who not to vote for) based solely on his opinion. His entertainment value - that would make the electricity The Rock used to exude in the ring look like mere static - was simply over half a century before it's time, and he backed up every single ounce of it in the ring and throughout his life.
Now like I said before, I am trying to walk the thin line of showing appreciation for a legend and talking directly out of my ass. However, if anything represents the sheer hubris of Muhammad Ali it's the video above. I feel like I grew up hearing the term 'rope-a-dope', and I even had a pretty good grasp of what it meant. That said, the fact that it was such a cutesy, easily repeatable term didn't do it justice to what it actually was. Perhaps if they had called it the 'stand there and let some of the most physically imposing people on Earth hit you until they exhaust themselves' method then it would really lend credence to the asinine amount of self confidence it takes to put it into effect. It's just not up for debate. The rope-a-dope is the single cockiest thing an athlete - at any level - has ever consciously decided to implement. Implying that your opponent can't beat you when you aren't even fighting back takes such huge balls that they make Steph Curry's cojones look like mustard seeds. So while I say goodbye to a luminary that I was never lucky enough to fully enjoy, I feel like it's only right we say goodbye to the strategy that he made his own. Not just because we will likely never see anything like it again, but because - in a vacuum - it illustrates a hell of a lot about the man that employed it.
Rest In Peace, People's Champ.