I have always admired those who have maintained their greatness for so many years, largely due to reinvention. Examples of this include Andre Agassi, Sophia Loren, Michael Jordan, and Betty White.
(I'm sorry, I don't mean that last one. So she cusses and talks about sex. And, she's old. So what's so groundbreaking about that? I say, good for you, Betty, you were great on "Golden Girls." Get that paper, player!)
Agassi was a hot shot with hair extensions, a huge talent who did well for a few years, lost his motivation, and then reinvented himself as a well-conditioned, baldheaded workhorse who won multiple majors at an age considered ancient in the Bizarro World that is tennis.
Sophia? Well, she was a bombshell who made young men and old men salivate, then she aged gracefully and made old men salivate (and some young men, too).
Michael Jordan came into the NBA as "Air Jordan," a guy who seemed to jump into the air, and then decide what he wanted to do, a guy who made the jawdropping dunk, spin move, or steal his Normal.
He exited the league a still-athletic 35-year-old whose last shot was a perfect-form free-throw line jumper to win the 1998 NBA Finals.*
Though Jordan's "reinvention" did not coincide perfectly with his return to the NBA from minor league baseball in 1995, this time is a good jumping off spot for his relaunching, MJ 2.0.
Realizing that a basketball player's shelf life is fairly short (just ask Kobe: only 33, but hearing whispers turn into chatter about how effective he will be in this year's Olympics and beyond), MJ turned to the weight room, strength coach Tim Grover, and an improved post game to prolong the prime of his career. 1980s MJ, he of the little patch of hair, cursive Chicago jersey, and butthuggers, looked to drive, drive, drive. Mid-90s MJ looked to post up, hit turnaround J's, and drive to the hoop when available.
Can you, then, teach an old dog new tricks? R.A. Dickey is having by far his best baseball season at the ripe age of 37, reinvigorated by so much success and being held up as such a role model for his courage.
Can Jamie, dunk at age 32 or 33 with more force than the rim-spinner dunk of high school? Can the teenager who aged too quickly, with a bad back and creaky joints, emerge energetic and limber?
Maybe I should talk to Betty White about how she did it...
*You may choose to include MJ's time with the Washington Wizards as part of his playing career; I just choose not to do so.