Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever to play. PERIOD!!!!!!!!! Part I

As Michael Jordan joins a memorable class into the Naismith Basketball (fellow Dream Team I teammates David Robinson and John Stockton; Coach Jerry Sloan and Coach C. Vivian Stringer), many debate that he is the greatest basketball player of all-time. What was once a cliched anointment as "the greatest player of all-time" when he retired from the Bulls in 1993 to play baseball, and in 1998 after he came back, struggled against Orlando in the 2nd round in the 1995 playoffs, and came back from that loss to win 3 consecutive NBA championship as the best player in the game, is coming under debate?? Lebron is projected to be better when he finishes his career, and Kobe Bryant is said to be better. And the legends of the game; the Big O's, the Wilts, the Russell's, the Jabbar's, the Magic's, and the Birds are said to be better. I'm here to dispel that without using a single stat of Jordan's but more of a character analysis to show why is superior than the above mentioned.

1. Lebron James- As physically imposing and intellectually superior (6'8" 260) he is on the offensive end of the court, he lacks basic basketball skills as shooting (his jump shot is not consistent), and  ball-handling (I've seen fourth graders with better dribbling displays than Lebron), and true defense skills that rely less on his athletic ability, but more on true defensive comprehension. Most importantly, he isn't tough enough. Part of that is a result of the League he's playing in: a softer(less physical) version of the NBA that the legends of yesteryear played in. Lebron couldn't mentally handle the Bad Boys of the late 80's and the Knicks in the early to mid 90's. The other part is he hasn't learned the difference from  playing hard and playing to destroy.

2. Kobe Bryant-The closest thing to Jordan we will ever see. He is technically(in terms of fundamentals) an advancement of what Jordan left us with in 98'(omitting 01-03 cause he wasn't in prime value).  He's a better 3-point shooter(because Jordan played in an era where it wasn't "live and die by the 3") and a better ball-handler ( a product of time's advancement of ball-handling), but here's the drawbacks: Kobe tries to emulate Jordan's competitive streak, but it isn't their. Jordan was cut from the varsity team in the 10th grade and never wanted to feel that hurt again. It put him over the edge competitively. He didn't shy away from challenges, he took them head on. As Kobe has gotten older, less and less you see him asserting his greatness amongst the other NBA players but rather letting reputation and past exploits do it rather than adding on to his reputation .

The Legends
1. Wilt Chamberlain- Flat out, the most dominant player ever to play (sorry Shaq). Wilt was a gifted athlete with strength unseen until the likes of Shaquille and Dwight Howard came into the league. He is the original Dwight Howard on many levels(which will explain why he's not greater than Mike). Wilt wasn't a winner to the same degree as Jordan, but when he did win, he won big.  Wilt's competitive streak was not even close to the degree of Jordan's; because once Jordan won a championship, he wanted to win them every year, and he literally did. Lastly, Jordan was a closer when it was necessary to win a game. Wilt wasn't.

2. Bill Russell-Flat out, the greatest winner, and most psychological player ever to play. He intimidated his opponents, and knew what it took to win. He even coached his team to championships. However, he knew how to get the most out of his players and his own talents, and wasn't even close to the level of Jordan.

3. Kareem Abdul Jabbar-Kareem dominated the NBA early, then tailored his performance for consistency until his decline became obvious to all. He wasn't the competitor, the talent, or athlete that Jordan was. But the skyhook is the most beautiful shot in basketball still.

4.Oscar Robertson- Oscar publicly said "Michael isn't the greatest. I am" Wrong. Wrong. Here's why: Oscar wasn't a winner. His individual greatness could not get his teams to championship's. He didn't have a Scottie Pippen, but did have Hall-Of-Famer Jack Twyman (look him up). Also, he wasn't a great defender, while Jordan (from 1984-93) was one of the best defenders in the NBA, and even after his comebacks,  he still guarded the best guys on the court and played great position defense.

5. Larry Bird-Larry was Michael Jordanesque in terms of intangibles(he was a better passer), competitive character, and winning. However, Michael won more with less talent and was a better athlete than Bird was, and most importantly, was healthier in the latter years of his career.

6. Magic Johnson- Magic was Jordanesque as well; intangibles, competitive character ( he was a much better passer than Jordan. He played like a true point guard at 6'9''). However, Jordan was even more competitive than Magic, and won more with less talent ( the Showtime Lakers were a stacked team).

There it is. The facts on why Michael Jordan was and always will be the best player ever to play. He lacked in certain area's of the guys that were mentioned above also, but he made up for it with the strongest mix of a competitive drive, basketball fundamentals, and athleticism the NBA will ever see.