I am not as much of a Michael Jordan criticizer as the poster of this video, however there are many facts in this video that are not “alternative” in any way. For any true basketball fan, familiarizing yourself with many of these will help you understand more about the game, but still draw your own conclusions. It is true that there were a lot of pretty good teams in the 90s, but very few true contenders. There were few “superteams” at any point, and perhaps this is covered in part 1, but the 80s Jazz were better than the 90s version for sure. Bailey and Eaton or Ostertag and Russell? C’mon!
There are a few things to remember, this video is not saying Jordan “sucked” but simply is not the Greatest of all-time “GOAT”. It’s like when someone asks you if a particular food is awesome, and you say it’s “good” yet they come back thinking you hate it. No, this is not that Jordan was bad it is that he was not the best ever.
Let me take a moment to highlight some things that were not covered here, pros and cons.
1. Jordan “leading” North Carolina. Forget that Dean Smith led North Carolina, this is not like the Cavs now where LeBron is in effect a player-head coach. JORDAN UP
2. The main way you identify who are good players for a particular team, role players, is to have guys to build around. Jordan gave the Bulls a place to plant their flag and then add pieces around him. Shooters, defenders, big guys, even if he didn’t make them as much “better” as Bird, he did enough to know that Steve Kerr and Kukoc were a better fit on Chicago than elsewhere and therefore worth more to Chicago than Utah for example. JORDAN SLIGHTLY UP
3. Game 7 Eastern Conference Finals 1998. The Bulls were banged up with less depth than the Indiana Pacers a true “team” with Reggie likely at his peak. Jackson, Rose, a 7’4 center in Smits, interior depth, they were a poor man’s 2015 Warriors, yet an aging Jordan and Pippen willed themselves to victory somehow. Not the prettiest game, but the Bulls survived and advanced. They did this better than any team in NBA history than the 60s Celtics, particularly the 69 Celtics in Russell’s last game, who somehow found a way. JORDAN UP
4. The league was watered down for everybody else! You still had the top 16 in the playoffs with plenty of hall of famers in that era. But no, he never had to defeat a superteam like LeBron is facing in 2017. They could have risen up, too! Only one other team did in an 8 year span, the Houston Rockets. If they were so good, where were they for a three-peat in ’96? The Bulls had two 3 peats! This leads to another topic about how in certain eras a finals appearance means more, whereas in the era of superteams it’s Larry O’Brien trophy or bust (aka 2017). JORDAN EVEN
5. Rule changes. This is where if you look at the greatest athletes to ever play, (Wilt, Jordan, and LeBron) the Dipper is WAY ahead of the others. First of all as a young player illegal defense was not the same. Jordan had plenty of time to get a shot before a help defender came. Second, Wilt was able to offensively goaltend and score literally at will, post up in the smaller key which was outlawed, and in effect dunk free throws also outlawed. So three major changes hurt him negatively, whereas the most major rule change in the Jordan era was to reduce handchecking. This was basically done so the 90s stars could score more easily, hurting defensive minded clubs like San Antonio, the Knicks, and ok yea, everyone else was pretty much offense first hence the change! If they didn’t allow handchecking and called the fouls today when Wilt played, or if Wilt played today, he would literally be unstoppable. It would take a flagrant to prevent a dunk (Shaq 2000 but more agile) JORDAN DOWN
6. “Making the team better”, this can mean so many things, passing, attitude, competitiveness, instruction, defensive help, drawing attention. As much as I love Wilt, he did go for stats in regular season which may not have let his teams get as good as they could have been. Bird didn’t take “games off” but he was more assertive at times and in his book admits if they really tried, could have won any game they wanted in the ’85 or ’86 season, but they didn’t. Jordan was able to harness the energy and team buy in for the playoff run 6 out of 7 years basically. Only Bill Russell was truly able to do that otherwise. Throw some of the shooting % out the window, he did win, a lot. How much better can your team get when you won 6 of 7 titles? JORDAN UP.
7. Defense. Sure you could argue Jordan took some gambles, but sometimes it worked, like stripping Malone in Game 6. Bird took gambles too, and those usually worked out. Larry didn’t have the recovery speed of a Jordan either. And on the ball, a clip of Allen Iverson crossing you up, I’m sure every player in the history of the NBA would get their ankles broken by AI at some point. On the ball, no two guard in the history of the NBA was as effective as MJ. And in an era that favored shooting guard, a major reason few others are HOF is because MJ owned every one of them. A similar phenomenon exists today where LeBron wrecked every small forward to the point the position no longer exists, team’s went back to playing 3 guards unless you have KD or Kawhi. Today is a point guard driven league so the equivalent would be if a guy came along and completely shut down Harden, Westbrook, Curry, Wall, etc. Imagine how that would change the game. Jordan did. JORDAN UP
CONCLUSION: Jordan is overrated, but still a top 5 player in my opinion. At absolute worst if we had more advanced metrics that can computer simulate and break down film and re-asses decades of NBA, he’s still top 10. And for entertainment value, he may be number 1. For the casual fan he is definitely number 1.
If the ball bounces a little luckier for the Bulls in ’95, Jordan could be LeBron with 7 straight finals appearances. Even if they didn’t win, it’s 6 titles to 3 (maybe 4 if LeBron goes Superman in 2017). Compare MJ to Kareem and say the Bulls have Magic in his prime instead of Pippen, Bulls still win. Jordan replaces Bird on the 80s Celtics, they still probably win 3 titles, even though they might not have been the same years Larry did. Don’t replace Jerry West with anyone, but simply give the 68, 69, 70 Lakers Rodman as their 3rd wheel, Wilt has more titles. Replace Jordan with LeBron on the 90s Bulls they might not win unless you factor in instead of Rodman, Chicago gets a two-guard defender to replace MJ. So at the end of the day, great players are great in every era and are so versatile that it doesn’t have to be a specific positional swap to work.