Let me get this out of the way up front, so there’s no confusion.
Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player I’ve ever seen, and it’s not even close. In fact, Michael Jordan is the greatest athlete I’ve ever seen. Never has the combination of skill and will to win ever been so high in one person.
When you were cheering against Jordan, no matter who you were cheering for, you just knew you were going to lose. Not only did you as a fan know it, but it seemed like everyone playing against him knew it too.
So when the greatest player in NBA history decides to talk about current NBA players, you listen. Most notably, his recent comments about Lebron James vs. Kobe Bryant, and the recent Wade, James, Bosh union in Miami.
Before you take what Jordan says as gospel, there’s one thing you must remember.
Michael Jordan is a selfish egomaniac. It’s true. He’s a winner, he was dominant, and he was unforgettable. All of those things happened to coincide with the fact that he is also a selfish egomaniac.
Michael Jordan was asked yesterday what he thought of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all deciding to play together in Miami.
Jordan said, “there’s no way, with hindsight, I would have ever called up Larry, called up Magic, and said ‘Hey look, let’s get together and play on one team.” Jordan continued, “in all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys.”
Michael Jordan is giving a genuine answer. He wouldn’t have decided to join a team with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. That doesn’t mean it’s the right answer.
It’s an answer from a guy who didn’t want to, and still will not share the spotlight. Who was more interested in being “the man” and winning, than winning in and of itself. From a guy who was so legendarily hard on his teammates, that they wrote a book about it.
It’s also a response coming from a guy who played with one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time, Scottie Pippen. If Pippen never came along, and the option to play with Magic Johnson did, it seems like the logical choice to make.
It’s a comment from a guy whose ego was so big and out of touch with reality, that he decided that he was left without a challenge in professional basketball, so he would go and play baseball. It’s often been speculated that he was told by David Stern to take a break from the NBA because of an out of control gambling problem. Either way, he chose to feed his ego and fill the void with baseball. It’s often said the hardest thing to do in professional sports is hit a baseball, Jordan figured for him, it would be no big deal. It turned out, he was wrong.
Sure, Jordan was a guy who wouldn’t want want to call up Magic and Larry to play on the same team, but was so ignorant of his own eroding skills, that he chose to suit up for the Washington Wizards when he was failing as a GM.
The most recent comments from Jordan were the second ones to make headlines. The first being Jordan’s comment that Kobe Bryant is a better player than Lebron James.
A valid opinion, for sure. True because Michael Jordan says it’s so, not so much.
He picked the guy whose game is not only modeled by, but invented by Michael Jordan. Bryant’s moves, most notably the recently developed fade-away jumper, came from Jordan, even down to the post big shot fist pump.
Jordan chose the guy whose relationship with his teammates has always been described as stormy, at best. Much in the same way Jordan’s was, many times for the very same reasons.
Jordan chose the guy who so desperately wanted to be the most important player on a winning team, that he made Lakers choose between himself and Shaquille O’Neal, at the time the league’s most dominant player.
The very traits that defined Jordan as a great player skews his view of today’s players and how they should act. The belief that one man can bring a team to a championship may be true for Michael Jordan, but it doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone. These are the same traits that have plagued, and may continue to plague Jordan in the front-office.
Jordan doesn’t see Scottie Pippen for what he was, one of the greatest players of all time, but something that he created. In his mind, if it wasn’t Pippen, it would have been someone else. Perhaps James is just self-aware enough to know that he needs his own Pippen in Dwyane Wade.
When Jordan sees greatness, he sees it embodied in himself. This is why he thinks Lebron James shouldn’t have left Cleveland, and why he thinks Kobe Bryant is a better player than James.
Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t mean that everything Michael Jordan thinks about basketball should be taken as gospel. It should be taken for what it is, the opinion of a great basketball player.