There's currently a syndicated game show called You Don't Know Jack on which host Troy Stevens, played by Paul Reubens, asks contestants a series of satirical and irreverent questions based mostly on pop culture. The show is fast-paced and funny, and the winner can potentially go home with thousands of dollars.

What's most interesting about this show, however, is Reubens himself. An enigma wrapped in a mystery surrounded by a really bad haircut, he is still known to many as Pee Wee Herman, the zany man-child character Reubens created. As Pee Wee, he built a cottage industry that spawned a hit children's TV show, two movies, and an idiotic dance football players still use today. Reubens was so wedded to this character that in all public appearances he took on the persona of Pee Wee. It got to the point where we didn't know where Reubens ended and Pee Wee began. Of course all that changed when he was arrested in Sarasota, Florida, and accused of masturbating in an adult movie theatre. His $135 fine paled compared to the price he paid when his TV show was cancelled and his career tanked.

Just when you think you know someone, it seems you don't know jack.

Which brings me to one Michael Jeffrey Jordan. MJ. Air Jordan. Money. Two weeks ago it was reported that Juanita, his wife of 12 years, recently filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences." She seeks permanent custody of the couple's three children and all 25,000 square feet of the family mansion in Chicago's ritzy Highland Park. Oh yeah - and half of Mike's estimated $400 million fortune. The New York Post reported that a private detective, hired by Juanita, had tailed MJ for four years and spotted him in public places with at least six women. I guess she just couldn't "reconcile" the fact that Mike was creeping.

Let's set aside for a moment that, as a pampered stay-at-home wife whose biggest challenge is telling the hired help which rare china to use for dinner, Juanita doesn't deserve $200 million. And let's set aside that the only reason she had him tailed for four years was to circumvent a prenuptial agreement by portraying Mike as a serial adulterer. If these allegations are true, it seems we really didn't know Mike after all. All we knew was the pre-packaged pitchman who drank Gatorade, ate Big Macs and Wheaties, and could drill a jumper through the sunroof of a Chevy Blazer. This is a guy who can stand firmly in his Nikes but can't take a stand on any socially significant issue. When he was making those MCI calling-card calls, we assumed he was calling Juanita, not one of his many (alleged) side women. We're used to seeing Mike drive to the hole, but Juanita could very well end up with the slam-dunk.

We think we know celebrities based solely on the fact that we see them on TV or read their interviews in magazines and newspapers. Their public image, about as real as the plastic fruit that's still on your grandmother's kitchen table, is prepared for our consumption by handlers, agents, and public-relations firms and served in huge portions. We buy into this until we're smacked across the face with the cold open fist of reality. The loftier the persona, the harder the crash to terra firma.

We thought we knew Jesse Jackson until it was revealed he had a child out of wedlock. We thought we knew Jimmy Swaggart until he was caught with a two-cent hooker in a $5 motel. We don't want to believe Martin Luther King Jr. was getting a little nighttime nookie on the side, but he was.

Former Green Bay tight end Mark Chmura made a point of not visiting the White House after the Packers won a Super Bowl because of President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. He was lauded by Wisconsin Republicans for taking a moral stand and mentioned as a future candidate after his playing days were over. He showed Clinton didn't posses the patent on indecency when he and a friend decided it was a good idea to have a hot-tub party that included drunk, underage high-school girls - one of whom accused him of raping her when they shared a private moment in a bathroom. He was arrested and charged with statutory rape. The rape charges didn't stick, but I don't think he's spending his time waiting for the Republican Party nominating committee to call.

And then there's the reigning poster boy for duplicity, über-religious savant Evander "The Real Deal" Holyfield. Every time he speaks it's "All praise to God" this and "Glory be to God" that. But with more marriages (four) than heavyweight-championship belts (three), he has the unique distinction of twice having a wife and a girlfriend impregnated at the same time.

Hopefully this latest revelation regarding Mike will finally make us stop imbuing athletes and celebrities with near-perfect images the Pope would be hard-pressed to live up to. These are human beings who are haunted by the same demons, battle the same temptations, face the same challenges, and possess the same foibles as the rest of us. And if you think they're any different or better or blessed than you and me, well, you don't know jack.

Robert Jackson is the president of Deep River Media, an Internet consulting company that focuses on Internet marketing strategy for small to medium businesses. To comment on this article, you can email Robert at (

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