Michael Jordan

Zane Mrozla-Mindrup


It is an age-old NBA question, how is NBA success measured? For those naive enough to measure success in titles, it would be Celtics great Bill Russell with 11. For the statisticians who measure in metrics like career point, then its Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387. For the more memory-oriented, “clutch” players like Larry Bird take the crown. Yet in all of those categories, there is one man who is a mean. He finds his way in the middle of almost every conversation there is to be had about NBA basketball, Michael Jordan.

Chiefly, Jordan did something that the likes of Lebron James and Kobe Bryant never did. He went to college. Jordan started building his lore in his home at the University of North Carolina. With numerous awards and incredible moments to his name before he ever stepped on the professional hardwood.

Taken by Chicago with the third pick in the 1984 NBA draft, He set the NBA on fire in his first season being voted an all-star and winning rookie of the year. Despite a blazing start to his career, the Bulls he led were unable to find playoff success in the first decade of Jordan’s career. Several playoff runs were halted by the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons of the late 1980s whose “Jordan Rules,” a system of aggressive triple-team defense and hard fouls designed to stop him from scoring, overwhelmed Jordan. An entire system of defense had to be created by Detroit just to stop Jordan from finding a way to the hoop whereas teams regularly put a stop to James’s scoring forcing him to distribute the ball to players around him.

The cementing factor of Jordan’s greatness is the titles, all six of them. In the 1990-91 season, the rest of the NBA could no longer keep him down his Bulls exploded to a title victory over the legendary Lakers followed by two more title wins over incredibly talented teams the Portland TrailBlazers and the Phoenix Suns. A title three-peat. Jordan did it twice while James has just three titles and only two of them in succession.

Jordan’s sustained greatness was astounding and demonstrated best by his retirement in 1994 which was subsequently followed by a return bigger and better than ever in 1995 for a dynasty continuance with three more titles over the Seattle SuperSonics and twice over the Utah Jazz. Led by Jordan the team posted the best records in NBA history at the time and incredible performances such as the “flu game” asserted his dominance. James’ modern career has seen him sit out on several occasions to rest.

More than all the records, awards, and titles, Jordan is part of the culture of American sports and even sports in general. His silhouette appears as the Air Jordan logo on clothing and shoes around the world. Jordan represented a city and is literally set in stone in front of the Bulls’ arena. He represented a nation as the star of the star-studded 1992 USA Olympic “Dream Team.” Jordan is synonymous with basketball and it is hard to imagine the game without him. He was the first superstar and casts a shadow that is just too big to be replicated by anyone else, even Lebron James.