Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest scorer the NBA has ever seen.
His Airness was the NBA’s scoring champion on 10 occasions and could get buckets in his sleep. Starting from 1987, Michael Jordan won the scoring title in every full season he played outside his mini-retirement.
MJ’s scoring, however, did not translate to titles early in his career. It was only after some playoff disappointment in his initial seasons that Jordan got to the pinnacle.
The Larry Bird-led Celtics and the Bad Boy Pistons with their “Jordan Rules” often came in the way as the Bulls tried and failed to win the first championship in their history. It was when the “Zenmaster” Phil Jackson took over that the Bulls started to scale further heights.
A key part of Jackson’s system was his ‘triangle’ offense. However, a key part of the execution of the ‘triangle’ was sharing the rock; something his star man, Michael Jordan wasn’t too fond of.
How did Jackson get across to Michael Jordan about the execution of the ‘Triangle’?
In his book, Eleven Rings, Jackson describes the meeting with Jordan where he discussed the ‘Triangle’. Jackson says that he approached his MVP who was also the scoring champion and told him to “share the spotlight” with his teammates.
As Jackson reveals, Jordan’s targeted scoring average “dropped” to 32 points a game after he decided to include his teammates more in the offense. From anyone else, this would have sounded ridiculous, but that wasn’t the case for MJ.
Jackson and Jordan envisaged a plan that would let Jordan average around 8 points a quarter. This, in turn, would ensure that Michael reached his scoring target. However, Jackson advised Jordan to spread the scoring around earlier so that Michael could take over in clutch time.
Jordan, convinced that he could retain his scoring titles while helping teammates flourish, somehow bought into Phil Jackson’s system. And the rest, as they say, is history.
MJ, Jackson, and the Bulls won 6 rings in 2 three-peats on either side of Jordan’s baseball sojourn. And it all started with Jordan sharing the rock with his teammates. Once Jordan bought into Jackson’s system, it was over for the league.
The ONLY time there was a champion not named the ‘Chicago Bulls’ was during MJ’s baseball sojourn.