Michael Jordan often comes across as a ‘cocky’ player (even if he’s justified), but when it came to comparing himself to Magic Johnson or Larry Bird, he humbled himself.
Jordan is widely considered the greatest NBA player as his dominant run during the 1990s established a legacy that nobody has managed to match.
He won six NBA championships, coming off of two three peats, won five MVPs as he cemented the Chicago Bulls’ place in NBA history.
Michael Jordan’s list of accolades is just ridiculous. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ChT4L6dHbU
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) February 17, 2018
Michael Jordan Never Placed Himself Above Magic Johnson Or Larry Bird
After Jordan started winning, he gradually started entering conversations involving other NBA legends. Before his rule in the 1990s, Magic and Larry Bird were the class of the NBA.
In the 1980s, the duo combined for eight NBA titles as their heated battles quickly translated into perhaps the greatest player rivalry in the history of the NBA.
Whoever the next superstar in the league was going to be, they were immediately going to be compared to Magic and Larry. Jordan was that person. After he won his fifth title in 1997, Jordan started seeing comparisons to both, especially Magic Johnson who had also won five titles.
However, Jordan wasn’t having any of it. He was the ultimate competitor on the basketball court, trash talking his opponents all the time, but he simply would not put himself ahead of either of those players. Jordan would talk to SLAM Magazine about this.
“I don’t put myself above them. I think that we’re all on parallel ground here,” Jordan would comment. “You know, they educated me about a lot of things about the game, from a team standpoint. So I can’t put myself above. I mean, people try to, but we played in different eras. I had an opportunity to go against them, in the peak of their careers, while I was still young.
“And I went against them, when I was at the peak of mine, when they was on the other end. So it was a passing of trends there, and we never had the opportunity to play against each other in peak years. You know, so it’s hard to say that I’m above them, by no means. I like to consider myself parallel to them.”
Jordan never backed down from anyone, but the comparison game wasn’t one he was going to indulge in. Jordan ultimately won a sixth title the next year, going past Magic and cementing his place in NBA history as the best to ever do it.