Michael Jeffrey Jordan, his airness, flight 23, simply put the greatest player to grace the court ever. In my opinion that is not up for debate, however I do question in this time and era would he be able to dominate opponents as he did that are just as athletic and some just as talented as he. Please don't get me wrong on this, its not an indictment on MJ. His on the court ferocity and tenacity is what most set him apart from his foes. No one stepped on the throats on his opponents like Jordan. He was going for the jugular in the second quarter of most games. I just believe that the competition in today's league would be much more fierce. Rather if you agree with me or not, I think we can all agree that the NBA's talent pool has been raised over the last decade, from the AAU circuit and the impact of international players. With likes of Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, and Brandon Roy to name a few the league is as deep and talented as its ever been at the wing position. It also has its share of long and strong defenders like Ron Artest, Trevor Ariza, Thabo Sefolosha, and Shane Battier. Now I know Jordan would have his way with a few of these guys, but thats not all what I am debating. It would be harder facing this competition day in and day out.
For the sake of argument, lets take a look at the competition Jordan faced during his title reign. The names don't jump out at you: Alex English, Clyde Drexler, Joe Dumars, Kevin Johnson, Dominique Wilkins, and Reggie Miller. I will say that those are Hall of Fame players, but would also argue that aren't capable of checking Jordan. In the six tittles that Jordan won these are the teams he faced in those finals: 1991 defeated LA Lakers with Byron Scott as main defender, 1992 defeated Portland Trail Blazers with an Danny Ainge and Cliff Robinson trying to defend, in 93 defeated the Phoenix Suns with Dan Majerle, Xavier McDaniel and Jeff Hornacek in platoon defense. That was MJ's first three year run. After that little baseball thing he came back for a second round of terror defeating Seattle in 96 being defended by Nate McMillan and Xavier McDaniel (again). His last two titles came against Utah and we all know they had no one to contain "His Airness".
Furthermore and to reiterate I am huge Micheal Jordan fan. I had his jersey, cards, shoes and anything else you can think of. Jordan changed the game in so many ways, from the style he implemented (baggy shorts anyone?) to his pitch man status for endorsements and to his charismatic personality and his determination and drive. If you put all of those things together you get a brand of its own, as Jordan proved. No one has been able to market themselves as well as Jordan then and arguably now. Only Lebron James comes close, and he didn't add many fans with the whole "Taking my talents to Miami" thing.
There is no doubt in my mind that MJ was the best player to ever play, there also no doubt in my mind that he came into the game in a perfect timing of sorts. His talent was above and beyond those who he played with in his generation. To his credit, none of that is his fault. He played that cards that were dealt to him to the fullest. But again, in this new generation of players that are just as athletic and skilled (although none are of the level of sheer will to win) as he was. He was the first of the new breed of wing player in the NBA.
What do you guys think? I know many will disagree with me on this one but i will debate with anyone on this subject? As a matter of fact I always say what if you put Kobe on the Bulls teams that MJ won his titles with? Do you think Kobe with those same teams would win as many rings as MJ? Always good to hear different views on that.