In today’s age, especially in basketball, we seem to have problems calling people great unless they have a championship ring. Jordan had six National Basketball Association (NBA) Championship rings in 15 seasons but that’s not even comparable to Bill Russell’s 11 in 13 seasons. Earvin “Magic” Johnson played 12 years and advanced to nine championships and won five titles, but I digress.
When talking about Jordan’s six rings we seem to forget that his teammate Scottie Pippen also wears six rings, but how come we don’t give Pippen as much credit as we do Jordan? It kind of reminds me of the old TV show Inspector Gadget. Penny, Gadget’s niece, used to do all the dirty work but Gadget would get all the credit. Now answer this question: what was Jordan’s playoff record before Pippen? Chances are you don’t know. Well if I’m right and you don’t know, before Pippen, Jordan’s playoff record was 1-9 win-loss.
Phil Jackson, arguably the best coach of all time; Toni Kukoc, arguably the best European player in the league at the time; Dennis Rodman, the best rebounder of all time and Hall of Famer; and Steve Kerr, the most accurate three-point shooter in NBA history, also all took part in Jordan’s success.
For those of you who are not convinced, according to Basketball-reference.com, when Jordan retired and the Bulls were led by Pippen they went from 57-25 to 55-27. Not that I’m making any comparison, but when Lebron James left the Cavaliers, they went from 61-21 to 19-63.
Now when Jordan entered the league he revolutionized the game. Jordan came into the league and brought a new dimension to his position. The NBA was a fundamental league before Jordan; they had big men and outside shooters who dominated the court. Before Jordan there were no ankle breaking crossovers. No one had ever guarded someone like Jordan and his superb quickness. If Iverson or Derrick Rose played in Jordan’s time, instead of Jordan we would be having this conversation about one of them.
No one would drive to the basket like Jordan and at that time there where rarely shooting guards well over 6-foot-0. Jordan was 6-foot-6. This could be a reason why Jordan was frequently fouled and with 23% (6,798) of his points coming from the free throw line.
Jordan also came in the league at the right time. Magic, Larry Bird and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were all finishing their careers. Jordan was the only real marketable player and became the face of the NBA. He didn’t have competition like we have now for stardom like Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, James, Wade and Rose
To prove that the NBA protected their star player, look at some of these quotes Jordan said about his teammates. Can you imagine if James, Kobe or any one in the NBA today said these things?
“You’re an idiot. You’ve screwed up every play we ever ran. You’re too stupid to even remember the plays. We ought to get rid of you.” – Michael to Horace Grant; TheLakersnation.com
“Five more years and I’m out of here. I’m marking these days on a calendar, like I’m in jail. I’m tired of being used by this organization, by the league, by the writers, by everyone.” – Bleacher Report
“We’re not winning because of talent. We’re just beating bad teams.” - Bleacher Report
Can you imagine this being said today? David Stern would be rich from the fines he would collect from players?
Jordan was a remarkable talent, no question, but hugely overrated. He was a great player but definitely not the greatest.
Spittin’ Fire is a sbFeature written and criticized by former NCAA athlete, Chad Wynter. It is published every Friday for his near-end of the week critical observation, focusing on the world of Basketball, football and soccer. Every week, check out what fire he ignites this time around.
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