According to ESPN and Slam Magazine, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player in history. With ten scoring titles and six Larry O'Brien trophies (aka the NBA Championship trophy), he was the most dominant offensive player on the most dominant team in the world. ''His Airness'' is known for highlight reel dunks, but dunks don't win championships... Mike was also a nine time All-Defensive First Team Selection. How does any of this tie into Brett Rheeder riding his bike? Granted, it's a stretch, but as you will see competition helped shape both Rheeder and MJ.
Brett Rheeder finished 31st in the world in 2011. In 2012 he was fourth overall in the FMB World Tour rankings. Fourth. As a 19 year old. He went from a possible top ten threat to a consistent podium contender, someone with a legitimate chance of winning every contest he enters. In 2012 Brett finished second at the Claymore Challenge, third at the Colorado Freeride Festival (formerly Crankworx Colorado), second at the Bearclaw Invitational, and fourth at the grandaddy of all slopestyle contests - the Red Bull Joyride. Compare that to his 2011 results, where his best finish was 11th at the Claymore Challenge. I think there's an assumption that every new talent simply appears; magically and fully formed, from a mystical land of flipwhips and switch 360 drops. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Brett's otherworldly bike-handling comes from a combination of nature and nurture. Thanks to his parents he has the best slopestyle training compound East of (Trek teammate) Brandon Semenuk's yard. And it doesn't hurt that he can ride all winter long. Brett lives in the neighbourhood of Joyride 150, easily the most famous indoor skatepark in Canada. Brett grew up riding with Drew Bezanson, Matt Macduff, and Brayden Barrett-Hay, three guys who know a thing or two about bike handling skills. But none of those advantages mean a thing if they're not backed up with hard work. Rheeder is a worker.
From 1987-1989 Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls lost three years running to Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons. The anger and humiliation at constantly losing to the older, more experienced team taught Jordan how to be a champion. The Bulls went on to win six championships in eight years: 1990-93 and 1995-98. It's a unique combination of respect, competitiveness, and work ethic, that fuels progression in any sport. Just like Jordan needed Isiah, and Larry Bird needed Magic Johnson, Brett Rheeder has the competition he needs. He'll be pushing his rivals, himself, and the sport for years to come - this is just the beginning.