Is Michael Jordan the greatest ever NBA player in history?
Michael Jordan wasn't just one of the biggest stars in the NBA, he was one of the biggest stars in sports!
In sports the GOAT question has always been prevalent. People have a desire to determine the one who achieved the greatest success at their field. In many cases there is no definite answer, but we spend our time debating as to who excelled to the greatest extent.
The NBA is no different. For years basketball fans have argued over who is the greatest player of all time. Players like Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are among the players who come to mind. However, the one player who defined greatness was Michael Jeffrey Jordan.
But, all said and done, at times it seemed like Michael Jordan defied the laws of gravity. He was an accurate shooter, a great passer and could handle the ball. He was one of the best in making game winning shots. He thrived in pressure situations. He lived for the big moment.
MJ played both sides of the ball well. It was rare for great scorers to be great defenders. He was almost as good on defense as he was on offense.
So what are his stats? We have to talk about that because it’s one way to judge his greatness. Jordan averaged 30 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 1 block per game. The points per game stat is amazing, but he was a shooting guard and was expected to score.
But, 6 rebounds per game? Not many shooting guards were interested in going down in the paint and battling the big boys, but Jordan was fearless.
Also, let’s not ignore the 5 assists per game. He was an intense competitor, but he didn’t let his ego get in the way of passing to wide open shooters.
History has shown us that scorers like Jordan usually don’t commit on defense. He averaged 2 steals and 1 block per game. Moreover, he was also Defensive Player of the Year in 1988 and was voted 9 times to the All Defensive First team in his career.
Michael Jordan was named to 10 All-NBA first teams, essentially meaning he was among the best five players in basketball for 10 seasons. There is that.
Michael Jordan has 6 NBA titles to go with his impressive stats. In each one of those championship seasons, he was the Finals MVP. The Finals MVP is not really a measurable award because it didn’t start until 1969.
Jordan’s 6 Finals MVPs are more than any player. And he has won it 3 straight times twice. Shaquille O’Neal is the only other player to win the award 3 times in a row. Needless to say, this is an incredible achievement of the highest order.
Jordan won the regular season MVP 5 times. It’s not the most but it’s pretty high on the list.
It’s hard to compare players from different eras. The best way to do so is by evaluating how dominant a player was during his time.
Jordan was also among the greatest winners in NBA history. During the early portions of his career, Jordan had to go up against all-time great teams such as the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons.
The thing that separated Jordan from many of the all time greats was his compulsive need to win. Jordan was and is still known for his intense competitiveness which on many occasions has gotten him in to trouble. However, on the basketball court this was a trait Jordan used to his advantage.
He was among the all-time great trash talkers and had a knack for getting into his opponents' heads.
Finally, Jordan has hit more clutch shots, and has had more big game performances than any player in NBA history.
Russell may have won more championships, Chamberlain may have averaged 50 points per game in a single season and Kareem may be the all-time scoring leader, but if you take into consideration the entire package, Michael Jordan is definitely one of the greatest of all time.
In conclusion though, I would like to maintain that calling an individual 'the greatest ever' in a team sports is simply a pointless exercise, because let's face it, players are strewn across different eras, and with different eras came different rules and regulations.
All these are important factors because we would not be able to gauge the sort of beast MJ would have been in the times of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, with the equipment and refereeing standards weighing in too.
What we could all agree upon, though, is that Michael Jordan still has the greatest legacy in NBA history.