Calling Michael Jordan an ordinary player would be like calling Bill Gates merely well-to-do. But a European coach chose to do just that once.
This statement was made by John Salley, who played pro basketball from 1986 to 2000 before hanging up his boots. Salley was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1986. He played for the franchise for the first 6 years of his career, winning titles as a team member in 1989 and 1990.
Salley would eventually go on to be on the Bulls with Michael Jordan in their iconic 72-10 season. The 6’11” power forward was mostly an end-of-the-bench guy for the record-setting Bulls, almost out of the NBA at that point. He’d mostly been a reserve for his previous teams as well.
Salley went to Europe for a short spell with Panathinaikos after winning his 3rd ring. He didn’t last long there, as he’d recount in “Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty”.
John Salley talks about Bozidar Maljkovic calling Michael Jordan ‘ordinary’
Salley talked about his very first interaction with Maljkovic at Panathinaikos:
“Salley tells that as soon as they were introduced, Maljkovic told him that Michael Jordan was ‘an ordinary player’. He added that ‘in Europe, he would average 16 points per game’. The two had just been introduced to each other at that point. According to this book, Salley had it clear: ‘There I saw that it would last a short time there.’ It was, finally, seven weeks.”
European basketball coach says Michael Jordan was “an ordinary player” and would average 16 points per game in Europe https://t.co/hRRnJI1Hrw
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) January 21, 2021
Salley would return to the USA to finish off his career with the Lakers. He was a member of the team that won the title after a 12-year gap with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Salley retired after the 1999-2000 season.