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Editorial: Messi’s Magic Only Compares to Michael Jordan’s Greatness

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Lionel Messi made a tremendous comeback to FC Barcelona as the little big man grabbed two goals in less than four minutes as Barça defeated Getafe 4-0 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey matchup on Wednesday night. In this article, Xoel Càrdenas gives you his take on why Lionel Messi's greatness can only be compared to the one and only Michael Jordan.

Messi
Messi
David Ramos

FC Barcelona defeated Getafe 4-0 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night. Cesc Fabregas grabbed a brace on the night, and the team played well, overall. But let's face be honest, the night belonged to the return of the King. The night belonged to Lionel Messi.

Heading into the last thirty minutes, I was a bit disappointed that the team was not up two or three goals. But once Leo got up from the bench and started warming up, I knew a goal was on its way. But I'd be lying if I said I felt that Messi was going to score two goals.

Cesc converted the penalty kick and made it 2-0 just before the King made his return in the 64th minute of the game, coming in for Andres Iniesta. You could tell that Leo's teammates were doing all that they could to get Messi the ball. They wanted Leo to get the ball, and get those magical legs of his warmed up.

The game looked like it was going to end 2-0, but Leo was about to make a statement.

A great pass by Sergio Busquets was brought down by Martin Montoya, who was able to maintain control of the ball inside the box only to have the ball deflect off a Getafe defender, and find the feet of Messi who put it in the back of net for the 3-0 score line. Call it luck; call it whatever you'd like, but the bottom line is that Lionel Messi knows where to be on the pitch at the right time. And no, not all players are capable of doing that.

Just when it looked like that was that, Messi decides to reiterate why he is the greatest in the world.

Less than four minutes after his "Welcome Back" goal, Messi got the ball thanks to an Alex Song pass, dribbled down the right sideplaying the RW spot like old times sakemoved past one defender, closed in on the box, and delivered a smooth strike to the near post, grabbing his brace on the night. Getafe was stunned and, to an extent, many fans watching the game where stunnedbut in a good way. Lionel Messi jogged toward the corner flag with his arms open, then pounded his chest close to the Barcelona crest on his kit, in a way telling all Culés and all of FC Barcelona, "I'm back. I love this game. I love all of you."

The feeling is mutual, Leo.

Messi's brace essentially sealed Getafe's fate in the Copa del Rey, and will give Barcelona the opportunity to rest a few players for the second leg, which is great because Barça has a busy schedule.

Wednesday night's performance by Leo is a reminder to all football fans, not just Culés, that Lionel Messi is the only player in the world that can capture our hearts and our imagination. There is no other player that makes us feel the way Lionel Messi does. There are many great players in football, but none come anywhere close to Messi's greatness.

I wasn't alive when Pelé was playing. I was two years of age when Diego Maradona won the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. I do not have memories of Pelé, and my only memories of Maradona were of his final playing years, which involved drugs and other personal issues he was battling. That being said, I obviously cannot say that seeing Messi play is just like it was when people saw Pelé or Maradona play. I respect both players, but with the amount of media we have in our world nowadays, the world is blessed to get the opportunity to see Messi play on a weekly basis, and for me, there has never been a player like Leo. Messi is truly a force of nature.

The only professional athlete that, in my opinion, compares to the magic, skill, determination, and heart of Lionel Messi is Michael Jordan.

There were many great players in the NBA during the Jordan Era (late 1980s-late 1990s), but the fact that we call this time period in the NBA the Jordan Era is proof enough that none of the great players during this time period had as big of an impact as Michael Jordan. But it wasn't only because of the titles, it was because of the magic, the skill, determination and the heart Michael showed on the court every night. We see and have always seen the same thing with Leo Messi. There are other terrific footballers out there like Cristiano Ronaldo, whom even though I do not like, I do respect his game and his game only, none of them will be as beloved as Messi. We have been and are living in the Messi Era. And just like the great NBA players that played during the Jordan Era were always behind Michael's greatness, all the current terrific footballers will fall behind Leo's greatness.

Even if you were not a Chicago Bulls fan in the late 80s or 1990s, you still tuned in to see the Bulls play because of Jordan. Many people became Bulls fans solely because of Jordan. Again, we see the same thing with Lionel Messi. Many tune in to see Leo play, even if they are not Barça fans. Greatness is greatness, regardless of which team the player is on. Perhaps the only fan base that does not tune in are Real Madrid fans. Then again, as we all know, Madridistas are only interested in enhancing their and their club's own ego, which has been built around buying players and titles; arrogance; debt; side deals with businesses, businessmen, and media outlets; and believing/spreading lies to further hide their and their club's shortcomings.

Given it is in a different sport and in a different time, we can't deny that Michael Jordan and Lionel Messi are similar when it comes to capturing our hearts and imagination. What I mean by that is that when we, those who saw Jordan play back in the day, watched Michael play, Jordan made us feel like a kid again every night he was playing. Jordan was a superhero, and we watched as the hero did the incredible over and over again. That is what we saw with Messi on Wednesday night! We saw our beloved hero put on his cape (or boots), walk out, and do the incredible. I am a lifelong sports fan, and seeing Messi's second goal made me feel like a kid again. It reminded me of how I felt like when I'd watch Jordan back as a kid back in the 90s. Then again, I have felt like a child watching a superhero in action when seeing Messi play for years now, and I know I'm not the only one that feels this way. I also know many, many non-Barcelona fans that feel this way as well. One thing that's obvious is that Messi is more humbler than Jordan was, and that is a big reason why Messi is so beloved as well.

I understand and respect making the case that Messi needs to win a World Cup to truly be football's greatest of all time. Winning an NBA title like Jordan did six times is still an easier challenge than winning a World Cup, which is in my opinion the toughest title to win in any sport in the world. Personally, I don't feel Messi needs to win a World Cup to be the greatest of all time, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a Culé. Even if Messi were at any other team, I'd feel the same way. Yes, even if he were at Real Madrid, and as much as I would hate to admit it, I would say Messi was/is the greatest ever. But thankfully, he is Barça's, and we Culés and all football fans around the world are his audience to show him the love and respect he has earned.

It's obvious that Michael Jordan has had and currently has a greater impact in defining what is greatness in sports as of now because Jordan's career is complete and Leo's isn't. But I truly believe when it's all said and done that Lionel Messi will be alongside Michael Jordan's name when measuring greatness in sports. Maybe we have reached that point already. Lionel Messi, like Michael Jordan, has changed his sport forever, transcends sports, and has made a global impact with his play and greatness.

Am I making too much of two late goals in a game? I'm sure some reading this article are thinking that's the case. That's OK.  It's not my intention to do that, but everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. And seeing Messi's triumphant return to football by scoring those late goals made me feel like I kid again; made me feel like I felt when I watched Pep Guardiola back in the day, then Xavi play for the first time. But Messi's greatness, with a small sample of that displayed by his triumphant return on Wednesday night, reminded me the most of Michael Jordan's greatness. Yes, it's two completely different sports, but the emotions, creativity, greatness, heart, competitive spirit, ability to capture fans' imaginations, and love for the game are a mirror images of each otherand that is the reason I wrote this article. I write what comes to me in the moment, never scripted, and I don't apologize for this. Everything comes from my Culé mind and heart.

When comparing Michael Jordan to the rest of the great players in basketball history, basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson once said, "There's Michael Jordan and then there is the rest of us."

The same kind of comparison goes in football and comparing Lionel Messi to other footballers both currently playing and in football history:

There's Lionel Messi and then there is the rest of them.

Welcome back, King Leo.

Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona

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