Michael Jordan is out legacy protecting again


Jordan had a recent interview with UDAToday's gamehunters about his role in NBA 2K11, and in typical Jordan fashion, looked somewhat insecure and legacy protecting in his quotes:

How has the game changed from your playing days?
less physical and the rules have changed, obviously. Based on these
rules, if I had to play with my style of play, I'm pretty sure I would
have fouled out or I would have been at the free throw line pretty often
and I could have scored 100 points.

Of course, there's
always the comparison of you and Kobe Bryant. Where does Kobe stand in
the status of NBA players through history?

It's so hard to
say. I think he is always going to be within the conversations of some
of the greatest players who've played by the time he is finished. Where
does he rank among those, if you are talking about positions? If you are
talking about guards, I would say he has got to be in the Top 10.

First, let me say this.

Jordan is the best basketball player to ever play the game.  Hands down.  No contest.  Anyone who argues otherwise is dreaming.  I don't want to get into that here, because it's silly.  It's not close. 

So getting that out of the way, Michael, please, please, pretty, pretty please stop trying to make sure no one ever forgets it.   We won't, and your efforts to make sure just make you look insecure and detract from your greatness.

I think the tide started to turn with the Hall of Fame speech.   On a night when everyone was there to celebrate how great Jordan was, he couldn't accept the praise with humility, but instead, he had to give a long speech discussing everyone he beat up along the way.  Going so far as to say tell his kids he was glad he wasn't them.

Then came the LeBron James summer fiasco with the decision, and Jordan was right there to tell everyone that he didn't want to play with great players, he wanted to beat them up.   Look, no offense Mike, as noted, you're the best.  However, you complained constantly that there wasn't enough talent around you.   You're trying to convince me that if Magic Johnson or Larry Bird had been traded to the Bulls in your prime that you'd have been pissed?

The reality is that Jordan would have been psyched to play with as much talent as he could get, and his comments to the contrary are more about subtly pulling the rug out from LeBron/Wade in case they win more rings because they did it the "easy" way.  (side note, I agree with his airness's implied point. Neither one is better than Jordan even with 8 rings).

Now he throws out the claim of scoring 100 points (subtly ripping on the entire era with this ridiculous claim) and says Kobe is a top 10 guard (his subtle way of saying, Kobe's no where near my zip code in terms of greatness which btw, is also true).  

Jordan's best game ever was 69 points for that game to have reached 100, he'd have needed to get an extra 45% scoring.  Sorry, the change in rules isn't adding 45% to your scoring totals.   Could Jordan have scored 100?   Sure, in some barn burner game if the entire Bulls team made it their goal to get Jordan to 100, they might have been able to do it by giving him 70 offensive possessions, but it never happened, and changing the era wouldn't make it happen. 

As for Kobe, really, a top 10 guard?   Look, I'm not a Kobe jock rider or anything, but who are these guards that are better than Kobe?   You're the only one who's clearly better.  I'll also take Magic, and if you want to push it you can make a case for Jerry West or Oscar Robertson.   Still, that's a top 5 guard without thinking twice.

Jordan's latest remarks remind us once again, that he'll never play the role of humble aging ambassador of the game that many of us wish he could be.  He'll never develop a sense of humility, and instead seems more likely to beat us over the head with his greatness like Oscar Robertson.  Granted, what right do I have to decide the best way for Jordan to present himself?


He can do whatever he wants, but I think he diminishes his greatness rather than enhancing it with the defensive attitude he takes towards comparisons.  Maybe if I were Jordan and had to listen to morons talk about Kobe or LeBron or whomever being better than me I'd do the same thing.  I don't know.  Either way, the ultimate competitor will never stop competing even though he won the fight long ago.


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  • You're right on Doug. I think we all understand that he isn't really the nicest guy in the world, but his inability to even must faux-humility is down right mind boggling, and saddening consider he's someone that I grew up idolizing.

  • MJ's competitive nature is how he became the greatest basketball player in history. Jordan simply had the drive and ambition to be the best and he used a lot of other fuels to light up his fire. Once he is doubted or challenged, MJ was always looking for the opportunity to prove to himself and to others that he is the best. This is one attribute of Jordan that I admire and like, but I know that I don't have the same personality as his to emulate him.

    I am assuming that if Jordan can play forever, he would be glad to do it. It must be hard for him to be in management and watch other athletes play the game that he loves and not be able to compete against the greatest stars in this era.

    I have much respect for Jordan but I wouldn't want to be his friend since I don't want everything in our relationship to be about competition. I wouldn't want to compete against the greatest competitor. Everything that I have written is just my opinion and my beliefs.

  • MJ is showing he is human. In this day and age, where ESPN picks the latest guy to be the greatest ever say LeBron or Kobe...he has to protect his legacy. He seems worried about this mythical rankings. Probably in a few years, he will give this fight up when he has grandchildren and have a new perspective about this. I guess it is also because he played against Kobe and if Rose becomes this great player...he probably might be a little more humble.

  • fb_avatar

    I guess once you lose your restaurant, your legacy's all you got left.
    That and a crapload of dough.

  • His attitude is what made him the GOAT. I absolutely believe MJ when he says he did not want to play with the greats...he was the ultimate competitor and took pride in beating them to show he was better. I don't understand why some expect MJ to change over time. True MJ fans aren't distanced by his personality. He is who he is and that's why Chicago has an NBA legacy. If you agree with MJ why shouldn't he be truthful? Would you rather he be phony?


  • His attitude is what made him the GOAT. I absolutely believe MJ when he says he did not want to play with the greats...he was the ultimate competitor and took pride in beating them to show he was better. I don't understand why some expect MJ to change over time. True MJ fans aren't distanced by his personality. He is who he is and that's why Chicago has an NBA legacy. If you agree with MJ why shouldn't he be truthful? Would you rather he be phony?


  • In reply to mdot1986:

    No, MJ is totally full of BS when he says that he didn't want to play with the greats.

    Scottie Pippen is a Top-50 all-time player, and MJ repeatedly "forbade" the Bulls from trading him.

    After the 1995 playoffs, MJ said something like "we are one Horace Grant-ish player away from winning again". He certainly was happy when the Bulls went out and got the greatest rebounder and pound-for-pound defender in NBA history.

    Yeah, I know Pip and Worm aren't Bird and Magic, but neither is Chris Bosh.

  • In reply to bullsville:

    This is an argument we will never know the truth. But that said, there was never an aligning of stars in their prime like what happened in Miami. If any star came to join another star, it was mostly because the other star was on the decline or past his prime(Rodman, even Garnett for that matter). The other thing is it is not wrong to ask to improve your team by getting some good players to complement the major star. The Miami thing is different in the sense...all three are good first on offense and were the #1 offensive options on their team...Rodman was never that. All MJ was asking was get somebody to rebound, control the paint...that's not asking for the Bulls to trade for Malone or Hakeem.

  • In reply to bullsville:

    MJ is the G.O.A.T. He can do or say whatever he wants too. Kobe an LeBron will probably be saying the same kinds of things.

  • In reply to bullsville:

    MJ is a jerk, it's not like he hasn't always been a jerk, so I don't know why anyone would expect that to change.

    On Kobe's guard ranking, I'd also throw Cousy into your list. I think you can make an argument for anywhere from 2nd-6th, although I think 3rd is probably right.

  • In reply to bullsville:

    BOTTOM LINE, Jordan is and always be the G O A T and people only forget that fact because of time does pass and people seem to forget watching some of the crap that's in the NBA now. I will never forget what Jordan brought to the league and his desire to win by any means necessary and that we Bulls fans loved to watch him and the Bulls win and we all shared the pain of getting beat by the Piston 3 years in a row only to finally beat them the 4th with a resounding sweep to beating the Lakes and Magic for that first championship. True fans will never forget those time along with the other 5 championships and true fans will agree with Jordan cause as I stated, the championships that the Bulls won was during an era where players played knock down drag out defense and the young people today do not understand what a fight it was for the Bulls every year to win the championship. From the Knicks beating up the Bulls, to Portland taking them to 6 game in a intense series to Phoenix extending and making a series out of what seemed to be an easy series, to Seattle do the same thing and to two finals series against a Utah team that gave the Bulls all they wanted, Jordan has the right to protect his legacy and like I said, people has just forgot the G O A T, but I never will.

  • In reply to bullsville:

    Again... Jordan has every right to protect his legacy cause young people today and fake Bulls fans don't understand the demoralizing loses to Detroit to get to the finals for the first time in Jordan's career. No team had to go through what the Bulls had to go through to win all 6 championships. Keep talking M.J. cause you have earned the right to.

  • In reply to bullsville:

    Omer Asik playing lights out, huge block on Tyson Chandler. He is definitely no Aaron Gray. Can you say Carlos Who???

  • In reply to bullsville:

    Man this motion offense is fun to watch!

  • In reply to bullsville:

    For the first time in some time, I actually agree with you...

  • In reply to mdot1986:

    Jordan is like a tyrant, a conqueror on the basketball court. He had the greatest killer instincts and he loves to step on you when you are already down; there was no playing nice on the court. He was passionate and he was always about winning, which meant he was willing to do whatever and cross whoever gets in his way. His drive is so strong that even after his playing days he wants to be the best in what he does. This is one of the reasons, I want to follow MJ's career as an NBA owner because he no longer can depend on his athleticism and physical attributes to be successful. I guess it's Brain Vs Braun with MJ that I'm so intrigued about.

    MJ also understood how important it was to be the best in showmanship. He understood that the fans were there to see him play and he always was trying to make a lasting impression to fans that only have one opportunity to see him perform. He was always trying to put on a show and that is why people would tune into what MJ would do next. MJ rarely took games off and he was so dedicated on taking care of his body and was lucky to be playing mostly healthy. His work ethic is commendable. Just compare Jordan's durability against Kobe. There's so many factors why MJ is one of the best athlete in the world.

    My most favorite quote is "The Greatest Revenge is Having Massive Success." and this is why MJ is one of my idols and role models when it comes to being successful.

    Now I'm not talking about MJ's personality outside of his competitive nature because I don't know him personally and I've never had the privilidge to have an actual conversation with him. I'm not sure if it's possible to be so competitive and to be so driven to be successful that you have room to be worried about satisfying others. I look at MJ as being a Me First type of personality and I have nothing against that.

    Now when it comes to building a Business Empire and when it comes to branding. I don't think any athlete comes close to duplicating Jordan. Kobe and LeBron has failed. Jordan understands how to brand himself and become part of corporate America. MJ knew how to take care of his professional image and reputation. Can you imagine MJ having tattoos all over his body and arms and not project a very clean and professional image? Jordan was also very knowledgeable when it came to fashion and projecting his appearance. He was very well dressed, articulate, and well groomed. MJ had the charisma that Kobe and LeBron lacks and this is why MJ is very marketable and well liked by sponsors.

    I admire Jordan because of his work ethic, drive, passion, dedication, competitive nature and not because of his family values and how he interacts with his friends. I have so much to say but don't want to make this too long.

  • In reply to mdot1986:

    MJ is who he is. The same personality off-court that he had on.

    The only point I disagree with is the notion that MJ would have decided to join/collude with greats such as Magic, Bird, Ewing to make a mega-team like Miami this year. He wanted to beat those guys; not play with them. He knew to be the best, you have to beat the best and not join them. Maybe I'm wrong; but I believe MJ would have shunned joining such a power team. He would have considered it the easy way. That's what was so upsetting about LeBron. I thought he had the same mentality. That he could put a bunch of role players on his own shoulders and lead them to the top. He bowed down. The media frenzy that LeBron created was dissapointing, but he's only a 25 year old kid and he's gonna make mistakes in that way. The more upsetting aspect to me was the lack of competitive nature LeBron exhibited.

  • In reply to mdot1986:


    Reading this article will put things in perspective why MJ might not be successful as an NBA owner. MJ and LeBron has something in common when it comes to being too loyal to someone who you have personal ties to or is a childhood friend. I'm not going to criticize decision makings on who he hires to be part of his organization but I guess MJ's inner circle is very blessed. Now the question is, how big/small is MJ's "inner" circle?

  • In reply to mdot1986:

    I love that every time Jordan speaks some one some where has to dissect what he has to say. First off the whole thing about LeBron needs to be looked at this way. NO Jordan wouldn't have complained if Larry Bird or Magic Johnson had been traded to the Bull's. That being said D. Wade and Bosh didn't go to Cleveland. LeBron left HIS team to play with better players. It is like every one said at the time LeBron would rather play on D.Wades team than have to LEAD in Cleveland.

    Now as far as Kobe as a Top 10 Guard of all time and who else could be on that list higher than him. Well in no particular order; Jordan, Magic, Oscar Robinson, John Stockton, Jerry West, George Gervin, Bob Cousy, Isiah Thomas, Clyde Drexler. So Jordan saying Kobe is top ten as a Guard is no issue for me, because by saying Top 10 that means Kobe could be ranked any place between #2 & #10.

    Now on to the 100pt in a game question. Jordan's most FG Attempts ever was in 1993 against the Magic. Michael shot 49 times and scored 64pts, that is with only 11 Free Throws. That was also a very talented team featuring one of the best big men in the history of the NBA. Now think if Jordan had that same effort against a weaker team in today's league where if you look at LeBron funny its a foul call. Also picture the Bull's allowing Jordan to play the entire game and him having no support from his team mates when it comes to scoring like Kobe did when he dropped 80pts against Toronto. Taking all that into account its not so far fetched to see Jordan drop 100.

  • In reply to CPBuff22:

    MJ wouldn't have complained if the Bulls legitimately traded for Magic or Bird, but that's not what happened with Miami. The PLAYERS colluded months and months before free agency to join the same team.

  • In reply to CPBuff22:

    It is actually possible that Jordan didn't want to insult any of the other guys by saying that Kobe was top 10 and not saying he was top 5.

  • Totally agree. Lemme also say that in today's NBA I agree w/Jordan that he could score 100 w/the lack luster defense play.

  • Quick math note:

    Jordan's best game ever was 69 points for that game to have reached 100, he'd have needed to get an extra 41% scoring.

    That's wrong. That's the gain in efficiency he'd have to get to get 141 points if he had scored 100. To get 100 from a game of 69, he'd have to get a gain of 31/69=44.9%. Which just proves your point even more, but I'm a stickler for accuracy.

    I think you have to keep in mind, though, that when Jordan is saying things like this he's not talking to you--the well-connected, very analytical guy who pays a great amount of detail to basketball. He's talking to the guys who look at basketball off the cuff and ARE making those "Kobe is the new Jordan" comments. That might annoy you, but it's probably in his benefit overall.

    It's not like he's all over the TV about it, anyway. An interview here, a newspaper comment there. Compared to the coverage of a guy like, I dunno, Brett Favre, it's miniscule.

  • Totally agree. Lemme also say that in today's NBA I agree w/Jordan that he could score 100 w/the lack luster defense play.

  • Hey..he might be worried about keeping his Bobcats financed. He has to keep getting those endorsements to fund his team or that crappy team is going to suck all his money and make him bankrupt soon....

  • Much like on the RealGm boards, there is this sad, disturbing, trend recently of bashing Jordan at any chance. Why? Don't ask me.

  • It's a shame that when the truly great ones leave the arena they once dominated, so often they turn somewhat bitter and diminished from the fall from near superhuman status. I wonder if there was a real Superman, and his powers suddenly vanished for good if he'd be bitching?

    Michael isn't the only one to sound/turn into somewhat of a turd after he had to wake up, and realize he was not sitting on the throne any longer. Past presidents, sports icons, sh*t look at what has happened to Tiger Woods another super for over a decade.

    Anyone who grew up in the same generation as Michael and loved basketball in a sports abyss of winning like Chicago loved him. He and Scottie and the rest of the cast of characters sure looked like they were having a lot of fun too. Especially in the first three championships. So whether he was a prick some of the time many of his teammates today revere him. Toni, who he was especially shitty too in many ways, likes to play freindly "competitive" golf together. Pax, Steve Kerr, Toni are not a group who's opinion one should take lightly. They all speak of him with reverance, and they do like Michael without doubt.

    And he got the living sh*t beat ou of him by Rodman and the Pistons while the league and Stern watched. If you were young enough to be real about it, but not so young as to not completely comprehend it, again if you were somewhere in Michael's age/generation or a little older you saw the sanctioned ass beating he withstood. Yes he went psycho on his team during these trying times. But he also led them to triumphant victory.

    The guy grew up in North Carolina in the late 60's not long after the official end of segregation. Snow cones thrown in his face and called the N word I'm sure more then once. One of his best childhood friends and families white.

    The guy has lots of flaws, but again he will always be a hero in my book for standing up to the Pistons, and yes maybe because of his winning jones, but it still takes a big man to join with the player who beat your as* out of the playoffs year after year to unite for a 72 victory run. Talk about a committment to excellence. I don't know anyone who believes in karma, but anyone comitted to that kind of standard of excellence and winning the championship every single time he reached the Finals..? I just don't believe that was only because he was a psychopathic obsessed ultra-comeptitor. He was given the opportunity in part because he did have a decent side to him that was a decent man. Ask anyone who attended his basketball camps as a kid like I have spoken to. Unfortunately, people who reach such heights seem to fall mightily. And the media in "reporting" it with their smirky vouyeurism propped up often on innuendo and half truths don't have the merit to carry his jock.

    But yes he still did do a lot of crappy things. Boo fuc*ing hoo.

  • Jordan was, is, and always will be the greatest, at least for the rest of my lifetime. However, if Pippen had not come along, you can not say definitively that Jordan may not have tried to partner up with another great player, even at the expense of having to find another team. It's unfair of Jordan, Magic, and Bird to criticize Lebron, when they were drafted by great teams (at least Magic and Bird were) in great cities.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Good point. Jordan, Bird and Magic were all drafted in big cities. LeBron was drafted in a small market with a losing history. Even though the owner spent well, the thought of losing him mentality made them make short-term moves which screwed them up

  • In reply to RichG:

    Thanks, Doug. I know. I'm working three or four jobs myself. It gets a little blurry.

    The play was too physical back in the day. If conditions now were just right, as they are on any of those nights when players get in those electra grooves, he might do it. But the odds of anyone doing it are quite slim.

  • The Bulls were Jordan's team from day one. Sure, MJ always wanted to improve the team and wanted more talented teammates. And if a trade could have been made for one of the greats of that time like Hakeem, Magic, etc. Sure he would have welcomed the trade.

    But Jordan would NEVER have gone to someone else's team to play second fiddle. NEVER EVER! Jordan was No. 1 for the Bulls, No. 1 in the entire NBA, and is the No. 1 greatest player of all time.

    He wanted to destroy every opponent on the court. And we were so fortunate to watch him do it in our city. So I'm not going to complain if MJ wants to protect his legacy - he created a legacy worth protecting. I'm forever grateful for the dynasty he led in the 1990's.

    And now Kobe is doing a commercial for Jordan's new NBA 2K11 game. Everything has its natural order!

  • In reply to Edward:

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  • In reply to Edward:

    I sat down and talked with Jordan about this 2 1/2 years ago. Actually Joe Dumars raised the issue in an interview I did with him five years ago, right after the NBA watered down its rules to boost offensive production.
    Dumars, the guy who used all the old physical defense on Jordan, told me in 2007 that Jordan would be unstoppable under today's rules.
    My opinion? Jordan's merely pointing out the truth here.
    Doug has a point, true. I've spent my career interviewing old athletes. Each and every one of them has a legacy to protect. So Jordan is busted in that regard. But that only makes him a little more human.

    Roland Lazenby
    author of "Jerry West"

  • In reply to rlazenby:

    Roland, good to see you here... Anyway I with the both you and Doug's assessment. The rules have changed in the league to improve scoring. Rules such as the 8 second rule, no hand-checking, and defensive three-second rules and post play have changed the approach to defensive schemes. IMO Jordan would not only flourish in today's league, he would have expolited these rules.
    As for Dumars, I remember interviewing him prior to Game 4 in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. He was watching tape and was furious that Dumars had been flopping all series. He rewound tape and said, "Look at this a**h@le... He flops, he can't guard me. look at him.That's all he does!" I said, "MJ, what's the problem? You guys are up 3-0? Just finish them off and that's not a problem."..Jordan looked at me and said, "That doesn't mean $#!t to me." I look at Phil Jackson and he does is smile and leaves the room...
    The point I'm trying to make is I've never seen a humble assassin. Jordan's competitive nature is at work here for the very point that Doug makes. But IMO, it's the players of today that he's pricking with it. He could care less what the media thinks because he knows that for the most part, they will kiss his ass. He was the most intense competitor that I've ever seen in ANY sport.
    As for the 100 points, I belive someone would to have really pissed him off to something like that. I remember back in 92-93 season, Washington was still the Bullets and the had a heralded rookie from Louisville named LaBradford Smith. Thy came to Chicago that year and Jordan had a bad game and Bulls lost. But Smith absolutlely torched Jordan for 37 that night. I remeber Smith jumping up and down like they won the NBA title that night. Jordan didn't say much after the game other than "We'll see them again soon." Well soon was 3 nights later. I watched him DESTROY this kids confidence by scoring around 40 in the first half and doing in everyway imaginable while talking trash to him. Smith was out of the league in a couple of years after that. Never seen anything like it since...

  • In reply to rlazenby:

    Jordan and Kobe are pretty close. Both express a high regard for each other. Jordan told me he thinks all this negative bull about Kobe is silly. Jordan says he thinks Kobe's earned all he's gotten because he's the one in this generation who has been willing to do the insane levels of work. Kobe's work ethic rivals Michael's, Tex Winter always told me.

    Having said all that, it would be tremendous fun to see them both in their exact primes, going at each other in a playoff series. It would be a great match-up, but most would go with Michael.

    I've never heard Kobe say anything that could in any way whatsoever be interpreted as critical of MJ. Even in those quiet moments in his youth, when Kobe would talk a little shit, never a word about MJ.

    Al, good to see you.

    Dumars, as I said, thinks Jordan would be unstoppable in today's game. Does that mean 100? Unstoppable is unstoppable.

  • In reply to rlazenby:

    I believe that Kobe respects MJ so much, you won't ever hear a peep of disrespect from him. That's why i believe he looked at his game a couple of years ago (after losing to Boston)and realized that he is in the last quarter of his career and needed something else. That was a post-up game.

    I have always said that Jordan reminded me a lot of Walter Payton. It's like when it's the 4th quarter and the game is close because your passing game is not there. You could give the ball to sweetness and he would get the hard yards, move the sticks and burn up the clock. When MJ couldn't consistantly just blow by people anymore he found his game in the post. He used his strength to post up, get to the free throw line and facilitate the offense to draw doupble teams for shooters.

    This is why Kobe IS the best of this generation. His ability to be multi-dimensional offensively is why he'll compete for title's for the next few years. BTW, this is why Mike Brown was fired in Cleveland. Why have LeBron playing point forward giving the ball to lessers thans? I would have had LeBron in the post playing off of him. Brown NEVER understood that. I think that Riley and Spolstra will use that to a fault this year because of LBJ's physical strength in the paint.

  • From what I have read about Wilt's 100 point game, his teammates sacrificed any semblance of playing a legitimate NBA game and pulled every highschool trick that they could to get Wilt to 100, including fouling the KNicks on purpose with 16 seconds left so that the knicks could not run out the clock with Wilt at 98.

    Under those circumstances, Jordan could score 100(so could Kobe)on the right night. That is why some people argue that Kobe's 82 was the greater acheivement.

  • None of those guys would ever have done that when they were 25. They might have considered it when they were 35.

  • The Bulls would never have won those 72 games without he maniac(assholiness) that was Jordan.

    Hopefully, the Heat have no one with nearly the same level of maniacal assholiness.

    Kobe is pretty much the same guy, but not nearly as savy as a marketing guy.

  • Unless you edited the post before I read it, that is exactly what you said, a 45% increase in scoring.

  • Hmm, re-reading maybe I was unclear, I meant 3rd is probably right for Kobe, not Cousy. I was just saying I don't think it's insane to have Cousy ahead of Kobe.

    Obviously the game was different and everyone sucked by modern standards back then, but you can only compare players against their peers. I think 8 consecutive assist tiles, 10 consecutive first teams and 13 consecutive all-star games are worth something.

  • Doug, I agree with you. It would have to be against one of the NBA's worst offensive teams. But when Jordan scored 69, Cleveland was on of the leagues best teams as well as one of their better defensive teams. Seeing him do this was amazing because he did ALL of this in the flow of the game. So I'm sure he could do it in the flow. I think he could do it, but it would be very very hard.

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