To Michael Jordan, "the playground is where it all begins. This is where you fall in love with the game. This is where the fantasy begins ... I play because I love the game. I'm living my fantasy."
Jordan, according to "'Q' Rating" and "Sports Illustrated for Kids," is America's most popular athlete. He was the No. 1 vote-getter, by far, for Sunday's NBA All-Star Game, and on Monday his new video, "Michael Jordan's Playground," is being released. The Chicago Bulls superstar loves a challenge, and this one is to top his other video, "Come Fly With Me." That one sold 396,000 cassettes in two years and was hailed as the most commercially successful sports video ever. Only a few premium giveaways have ever topped that number.
This 40-minute CBS/Fox video is listed at $19.98 but will be marketed on the back of several million boxes of Wheaties in March, April and May with $2.50 rebate offers for both the new Jordan video and "Come Fly With Me."
"Playground" is the first sports video to combine original footage with a storyline, action highlights and an exclusive soundtrack. The original footage and storyline feature Jordan and Tyrin Turner, who appeared in Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" video. Turner plays a kid who has been cut from his high school basketball team and has doubts about trying again. Jordan encounters him on the playground and tells him how Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team.
The playground storyline is skillfully spliced with action shots of Jordan practicing as he preaches, unleashing an awesome mix of great shots and masterful dunks, blocked shots and steals, dishing off to open players when double-teamed.
Turner makes the team the second time around, and a music video evolves with Jordan joining Full Force in the video's exclusive theme song, "Anything Possible." Jordan does not embarrass himself as a singer or dancer in this delightful windup; he seems to have had fun doing it and makes it fun to watch.
John Gaffney, CBS/Fox director of sports marketing, rated Jordan's performance somewhere between Fred Astaire and M.C. Hammer. Actually, Jordan mixes in some nifty moves and fancy steps, ad-libbing a glide here and there to cover his pride. No matter. In the end, the show is a three-pointer at the buzzer.