Admit it, the notion that a six-time Champion, 5-time MVP, 10-time NBA scoring Champ, 1988 Defensive Player of The Year, and 14-time All-Star could possibly be overrated by any sense is simply hard to imagine. Surely, there is no one who could ever argue or dispute why MJ is not the greatest of all time, and surely there will never be a reason to put anybody above him. I mean, after all, the great Michael Jordan had a career that any NBA star would dream of.
Yes, Michael Jordan is great. Yes, at the moment, he is the greatest player of all time. But this collective agreement that his career and talent could NEVER be passed? That’s something we need to change.
Before MJ, there was Wilt. In the 1962 NBA season, Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds a game. In march of that same year, he scored a whopping 100 points, which still stands as the current record for most points scored in a single game. At the time, Wilt seemed like a monster. At the time, Wilt was the MJ of the 60s. Chamberlain was the one player that would always go down as the greatest... at the time.
Until Magic came along, and suddenly HE was the one that defined greatness. He could play all five positions and had a scoring ability unlike any other. His playmaking skills were among the likes of which we’d never seen before. He was a truly special talent. Beating Bird and the Celtics was a moment that that fans of that time would NEVER forget. He was hailed by many as the ultimate G.O.A.T. Surely, nobody could or would ever be better than the great Magic Johnson… until, finally, Jordan proved that notion wrong.
It happened to Wilt, it happened to Magic. Why can’t the same happen to Jordan? Why does the NBA family agree that there will never be a player to match or surpass Jordan’s greatness, like others have passed Wilt’s, and have passed Magic’s? Why is MJ the limit of greatness?
While his achievements and accolades are more than most could dream, he was far from perfect. Like others who rank behind him, he had flaws and he had bad moments. Just like other greats, he had struggles and stains, and times where his team fell short on the big stage. He is not the untouchable God everyone thinks he is. It may be hard to believe, but he isn’t perfect.
Look at the three-pointer for proof. MJ was never a particular craft three-point shooter, even in the prime of his career. In his first four years in the NBA, he could make 20% of them.Let’s not forget the many, many losses he took over his career. From 1987 to 1990, MJ lost THREE straight times to the Pistons in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Oh, and assists? Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and LeBron James (so far) are all ahead of MJ in career assists average.
It's not like Mike did it all by himself, either. Beside him, along all of the championships, was Scottie Pippen. Pippen is a top 50 player of all time, who played with MJ while they were both in their primes. Without Scottie, Jordan is only 5-15 in the postseason. In fact, after Jordan left the Bulls, the team was still very good under Pippen's leadership. You see? Even MJ needed help.
But, as we all know, the media needed a hero. NBA Basketball needed a face. Jordan? Well, he was the perfect guy. Images of his amazing free throw line dunks and clutch time moments captured the entire basketball world by storm. The media sold everyone the idea that Jordan was as great as it was ever going to get… the “Golden Boy,” the perfect baller. Even Nike got in on it, branding an entire shoe off the idea of Jordan’s basketball immortality. We fell in love with Jordan, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But we accepted all those images of Michael Jordan being the mountain top of basketball greatness. And it’s those same images that keep him in an “untouchable bubble” to this very day.
No, I am no MJ hater. And no I am not a hater of older generational basketball, either. The point here is not to say that MJ sucks, or that he shouldn’t be on the top of anyone’s list of the greatest ever. The point here is to get people to stop lifting MJ to a podium nobody could ever reach. The reality is, it’s not impossible for somebody else to be the greatest... whether it’s 3 years from now, 10 years from now, or even 20.
Jordan is not number one in everything. He doesn’t have the most rings, he doesn’t have the most points, he doesn’t have the most MVPs. There are imperfections in his game, just like everyone else. He is human.
That’s what makes him overrated. People have lifted him to an impossible, nonreachable level. In the basketball world’s mind, nobody can, or ever will live up to MJ.
It is time to let that go. It is time to stop putting a limit on greatness. It is time to realize that maybe MJ wasn’t a God or a superhero and that maybe, just maybe, somebody else could one day take the mantle as the greatest player of All-Time.
After all... is anything on this earth meant to last forever?