Michael Jordan had a strong influence on two shooting guards of the 96 draft class – Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant.
1996 is a draft class not many speak about. It has one of the best players of all time in Kobe Bryant, the second-best shooter of all time in Ray Allen, and one of the best handles ever in Allen Iverson. Oh and also don’t forget Ben Wallace went undrafted in this class. Some of the most legendary names share the same draft day, but none more talented but lazy than Allen Iverson.
AI came into the league a staunch admirer of the then 3-time champion. He watched his exploits on screen from so close, that his mother was ready to whoop his behind. When he first played against him, he was flabbergasted because the man who he saw through the glass was now in flesh.
He could not believe what he was seeing – because MJ felt so ethereal. Almost out of this world, because AI swore that he saw an aura. “He was glowing” were his exact words. But he kept his calm and played MJ out of the gym. He is the only player to outscore MJ in all of his matchups, and that is saying something. The Answer was a menace, and even the G.O.A.T did not have a retort.
Michael Jordan not only inspired the commonfolk, but his juniors as well – Some made it to the NBA, and the others still look up to him
To keep inspiring people for almost 40 years is commendable – the numbers just don’t seem to stop. Each person stepping into the NBA has at one point in time dreamt of hitting a fadeaway like Michael Jordan and lifting a championship with a cigar in his mouth. Some players may not achieve that dream, but his inspiration brought them so much closer to their idol.
Players are not humble enough to accept it, but they did feel the sheer presence of him when they shared the court. All of the players know that they put in the same effort to get to this playing field, so they don’t show it. Some like Kobe or AI do not hide their love for him, but also look for opportunities to bring him to his knees.
They wanted to show Black Jesus was a human – and “The Answer” had Jordan doing splits in his first year itself. In the era of MJ and Kobe, the diminutive Guard from Georgetown put on a show, stealing numerous scoring crowns from the master and the protégé. If only he had a better crew around him to win titles – there would be no doubt about who was the best small guard ever.