I’ve always been intrigued by unabashed arrogance and when it is coupled with brilliance (of the ‘legendary’ Barney Stinson kind), I just can’t get enough of it. This is why like so many other Manchester United fans, I am still captivated by the likes of Eric Cantona (a.k.a King Eric). His influence and wealth of ‘legendary’ moments during the 90’s were such that even today the crowds still sings songs about him at Old Trafford and this is why if there was one player I could have seen play live, it would be him.
These days, a 50 year old Cantona only occasionally pops up in my news feed but when he does, it’s probably going to be good. One quote I recently enjoyed was his welcome message to another giant egomaniac, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The monologue ended with the words (Full video from 2:10 here):
“…there can only be one King in Manchester. You can be the Prince if you want to. And the No 7 is yours if you are interested. That is my welcome gift to you … The King is gone! Long live the Prince!” (Zlatan allegedly replied with “I won’t be King of Manchester. I will be God.”)
Cantona on many a day, might have been more of a tosser than someone who should be revered. However, once he transcended to a symbol of success, theatrical moments like these seem to only reinforce his legacy.
Self indulgence has definitely been had here, but the three headed product (arrogance, legend and legacy) underlying it acts like a magnet for anyone forging their identify. It doesn’t matter how you respond to such characters but that you take note of how you feel about it. Greatness has a common quality of mental stubbornness and the willingness to entertain; which is why everyone needs these type of charismatic egomaniacs in their lives.
Now there are many other great egos out there. Most easily tick the box for unabashed arrogance before then struggling with the twin pillars of legend and legacy. This is why there’s probably only one other person who for me would make the grade as a triple threat. That person is:
The GOAT’s legacy to the game and the Chicago Bulls will never be in doubt. However, what lets him down is that he’s accepted as a ultra competitive but likeable guy. Consequently, there’s no real polarising of opinions when it comes to MJ.
Fortunately, there are moments which sometimes get glossed over which help to shed a slightly different light on his Airness. One story I particularly enjoyed occurred during Jordan’s first game against rookie Dikembe Mutombo. During this game Jordan decided to welcome Mutombo to the NBA by saying:
“Hey Mutombo, this ones for you baby,” before promptly shooting (and making) a free throw with his eyes closed (video here).
If Jordan wasn’t Jordan (or if he was white for that matter), I’m sure this story would have been painted in a very different light but just like Cantona, Jordan’s transcendence allows these kinds of ‘legendary’ moments to reinforce his legacy.
I note that there are several other people that would easily make many other people’s list. Ali would definitely be a popular choice. However, the generational gap makes it difficult for me to really appreciate Mr Clay for all his glory. As such, I thought I’d acknowledge a couple of double threats who could still achieve the triple. They are:
Previously due to various reasons I wouldn’t have given him a chance of making this list, even though 13 league titles in 15 seasons should be a sufficient building platform (even if they were accumulated with 6 different teams). However, now that he’s a red, I feel comfortable saying that Zlatan could leave Manchester United as a triple threat. Never one to lack any self confidence, Zlatan’s ‘legendary’ highlight reel is topped with my favourite Zlatan quote:
“What do you mean, ‘present?’ She got Zlatan.”
– On his now wife’s engagement gift.
On a more serious ‘legendary’ nature, this goal was also a pretty good too (Zlatan Bicycle Kick vs England).
This discussion wouldn’t be complete without discussing Mr West. Unabashed arrogance ‘Check.’ ‘Legendary’ moments ‘Check.’ Legacy ‘Well, Kanye would tell you he has abundance of this.’ I would struggle to agree though. As much as I enjoy all things Kanye, his legacy has been tainted by two words. Taylor Swift (R.I.P). The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that what has unfolded recently between the two is the PR brain child of a super think tank. However, Kanye probably does need a couple more grammy award winning albums before he can cement his legacy.
Cantona has 4 league titles in 5 years (average career span of the elite is 10 years?).
Jordan has 6 rings in 8 (average career span of the elite is 15 years?)
Kanye only has 4 best rap albums (average career span of the elite is 20 years?)
So who made your list?
P.S. I must also give an honourable mention to (Super) Mario Balotelli purely for how entertaining some of his actions have been (Top 10 list here).
To stay up to date with all the latest posts follow me on:
Any sharing of a post using the share buttons below would be greatly appreciated and would be greeted with multiple imaginary high 5’s.