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.