We list down the five big reasons why Michael Jordan remains the GOAT in NBA history.
There have been significant debates over the GOAT status in NBA history. While some suggest that it is too close to call, some believe that Michael Jordan still remains the undisputed king.
We consider five points which show why MJ is still the GOAT.
- 6 FINALS MVPsNBA as a design makes dynasties improbable. Unless you luck into a sudden big spike in the salary cap and have an MVP on a mid scale contract (Warriors) building long lasting dynasties is nearly impossible. The fact that Michael Jordan had two back to back 3 peats (removing the 2 years wasted in baseball) with the Chicago Bulls winning 6 NBA Finals MVP shows how astounding his dominance was over the NBA. There is no one that comes close to matching Jordan’s number with Shaq and LeBron being the closest with 3 each, that would combine to match Jordan’s number. When it came to the biggest platform of the NBA, Michael Jordan shined like no one else and the 6 titles with the 6 Finals MVPs make it difficult to suggest there has been a better player to pick up the basketball than Michael Jordan.
- Insane Competitive SpiritMichael Jordan was the Kobe before Kobe. Winning was all that mattered to him. His leadership style is well documented. Any player that wasn’t up to Jordan’s standard in training was berated constantly despite the setting in which the game was being played.
During the 1992 Olympics, the US team found a table tennis set up in their hotel and decided to play a tournament. Michael Jordan made it to the finals against Christian Laettner but lost a close match. He slammed the paddle and retreated to his room, not talking to anyone for the next few days. Few days later he asks for a rematch and his team mates find out he has had a pingpong table delivered to his room and had been practicing the whole time. He went on to beat Laettner21-4 in their rematch!
Another story from the 1992 Olympics. Chuck Daly was the coach of the team US and an avid golfer. Jordan who is a huge fan of the sport himself couldn’t resist the opportunity to challenge Daly but lost by one shot. Daly refused to play again against Jordan that day but later that night Jordan went up to Daly’s room and pounded his door until Daly agreed to play against him the next day. Jordan won that by one shot, but maybe that was Daly throwing it away for a peaceful night’s sleep.
- The blind free throws, the finger wag and the shrugMichael Jordan’s personality on the court was so big that he could get away with anything. Dikembe Mutombo, a defensive monster, in his rookie season, started to trash talk MJ and Mj responded with a stellar performance that included calling out Mutombo while shooting free throws with his eyes shut. Imagine someone doing that today.
A few years later Mutombo laughed at Jordan during the All Star week for never having dunked on him and Jordan said Mutombo needed to watch out as he would dunk on him. Later in the season sure enough Michael drove to the rim, met Mutombo there and posterized him. He ensured it was a moment to remember by giving Mutombo his own signature move by wagging his finger in Mutombo’s face.
In the 1992 NBA finals, during an interview before the series began, Mike took offense to a journalist asking him if Clyde Drexler was a better player among the two due to his better 3 point shooting. He responded with “Drexler is not a better 3 point shooter than me, he is a better 3 point shooter than I choose to be”. Jordan followed that up with a 35 point first half performance in the finals against Drexler where he hit 6 consecutive 3 pointers. After swishing the 6th straight 3 ball Jordan looked to the camera and gave us the iconic shrug as if to say “What did I tell you?”
- Air JordanAs famous as Michael Jordan is, his range of shoes might perhaps be even more famous. There is a history of NBA player with signature shoes before Jordan, but none were as famous or as controversial as the first signature shoes that Nike made for MJ. The Air Jordan I dropped in 1985 and this was a time when athletes weren’t allowed to put on shoes differing from their team kit shoes. NBA threatened to fine Jordan $5000 for every game where he put on the Air Jordan I, but such was his marketability that Nike offered to pay the fine for Jordan so he could continue to play in the shoes (not that he couldn’t afford it himself, but with the number of games Jordan played, that amounts to $500,000 a year, back in 1985!) Soon the trend changed and shoes regulations were removed from the kit regulation of NBA and it started the revolution that has now lead us to a point where there are dedicated sites just for discussing shoes that NBA stars wear to every game.
- The StatsMichael Jordan was a rare player who could do it all at an elite level. He was an all time great offensive player with a career average of 30 points. But what is incredible is he was just as great on the defensive end. A shooting guard taking on the toughest assignments irrespective of their size was unheard of before Jordan.
As mentioned before, Jordan averaged 30 points per game to go with, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 1 block per game. When looking at the rebound and assist numbers it is crucial to look at the era in which Jordan played. Every team had traditional big men grabbing boards at the center. For a guard on the best team to average 6 rebounds for his career points to his willingness to battle them all in the paint day in day out. Also while combo guards are common now, it wasn’t so before Jordan. A good point guard averaged 7 assists a game in Jordan’s era which was mostly built around iso-ball. Averaging 5 assists while also averaging 30 points a game shows Jordan’s commitment to playing winning basketball irrespective of the means. In the 1993 Finals, with time running down Jordan passed to John Paxson, who hit the game winning 3 for the championship. Then again in the 1996 finals, with the clock running down, he passed to Steve Kerr for the game winning shot and the championship. Did he want the final shot? Of course he did, he is an intense competitor, but he didn’t let his ego get in the way of passing to wide open shooters. A player this good would be considered one of the all time greats if he played no defense at all. But Jordan was one of the greatest defensive gaurds of all time as he averaged 2 steals and 1 block per game. He also won the Defensive Player of the Year in 1988 and was voted 9 times to the All Defensive First team in his career. Beat that if you can.