ESPN Has Lied To You: Ten Reasons Michael Jordan Is Not the Greatest NBA Player of All Time

Michael Jordan is widely considered to be one of the best NBA players of all time – on most people’s lists, he is #1. And why not, right? With six championships, ten scoring titles, five MVP trophies, a highly praised defensive ability, and an absurdly marketed brand that has ascended to international fame, his influence over the game is everywhere. You cannot escape the name Michael Jordan even on a monthly basis if you tried.

But is Michael Jordan actually the greatest NBA player of all time? This is a question I have difficulty with myself. As an avid NBA fan, I would not be hesitant about calling him the greatest scorer of all time – with an average of 30.1 points a game, there is little doubt that Michael Jordan was, along with Wilt Chamberlain, the most dominant offensive force this game has ever seen. However, when I think of him as the greatest NBA player of all time, I can’t help but wonder if he actually is or not. In my mind, players like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, and (with a couple more titles) Lebron James all have an equally good stake at claiming the highly coveted title of “GOAT” – Greatest of All Time.

Here are ten reasons why Michael Jordan may not be considered the greatest NBA player in history.


10. He Won His Titles In an Era of When Expansion Teams Were Added, Diluting the Overall Quality of the NBA

Miami Heat Photo

Photo by stab at sleep, via Flickr Creative Commons

Right before and during his championship reign in the 90’s, several teams were added to the league, including the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, and Vancouver Grizzlies. It is a widely known truth that expansion teams rarely ever have winning seasons in their first few years in the league, as the talent pool is diminished due to the fact that a team has to fill a roster with completely new players, many of which have possibly never played professional sports before. Michael Jordan won 6 championships between 1991 and 1998; between 1988 and 1996, six teams were added to the league, making the era of Michael Jordan one that had lots of newbie teams. 


9. MJ Couldn’t Get the Washington Bullets to the Playoffs

MichaelJordanDepOfDefense

By DefenseLINK [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I get it, he was way past his prime and not the Michael Jordan that averaged 32, 8, and 8 in the 80s. Still, we are talking about the “greatest player of all time,” only three years removed from his most recent championship run in Chicago. Certainly, you would expect that the greatest player of all time would be able to help his team get at the very least into the playoffs? Perhaps his leadership and wisdom could have outdone his ability at the time, but no, the Wizards did not make the playoffs in either of the two years MJ was with the team.


8. He Was a Huge Ball Hog

michael jordan photo

Photo by cliff1066™ Via Flickr Creative Commons

Much like Kobe Bryant in today’s NBA, Michael Jordan was a huge ball hog, often taking as many as 30 shots a game in the 86-87 season alone. Basketball is a team sport, and hogging the ball like he did back then is a large reason why the bulls were not able to make it out of the first round of the playoffs his first three seasons in the league.


7. Michael Jordan Couldn’t Get Past the First Round of the Playoffs Without Scottie Pippen

scottie pippen photo

Photo by DisneyDena, Via Flickr Creative Commons

In the 1980s, the world was inebriated with the potent shotmaking ability that was Michael Jordan – in his third year in the league, he averaged an astonishing 37.1 points, which is the highest point total average of all time out of all NBA players not named Wilt Chamberlain. His first three years in the league, the Chicago Bulls did make it to the playoffs; despite averaging an absurd 43 points per game in the 1986 playoffs, as well as incredibly high scoring numbers in 1985 and 1987, Michael Jordan was not able to get his team out of the first round of the playoffs in those three years.

With Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan found an athlete who is widely considered one of the greatest defenders of all time. With Pippen, the Bulls finally had an incredibly pesky defender who constantly took the Bulls to deep playoff runs. Interesting note: Pippen has a better career winning record than Michael Jordan.


6. The NBA Teams He Defeated In the Finals Were Overrated

magic johnson photo

Photo by cliff1066™ Via Flickr Creative Commons

One of the staples of MJ’s legacy is that each of the teams he defeated in the finals had very memorable superstars. Although this is true, when looked at a bit deeper, these teams may be a little overrated. Let’s take a quick look at the teams Michael Jordan defeated in the finals and how they might be a little overrated:

1991 – Los Angeles Lakers – a good team, but point guard Magic Johnson was on his way out, and James Worthy was not nearly as effective as he was in the 80s. Also, the team no longer had Michael Cooper like they had in the 1980s, who was widely considered one of the best defensive players of all time. Needless to say, this Lakers team also no longer had the talents of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar like they did in the 80s – this Lakers team was a far cry from the Lakers that dominated the 80s.

1992 – Portland Trail Blazers – Outside of Clyde Drexler, this team boasted the legendary talents of…Jerome Kersey and Clifford Robinson. Moving on!

1993 – Phoenix Suns – Probably one of the better teams that MJ played, the Suns were led by then-MVP Charles Barkley, who was one of the league’s best power forwards. Outside of Barkley, this team lacked quality interior defense, a persistent theme throughout Jordan’s title run that was also a big reason why the Bulls won the 1991 and 1992 NBA finals.

1996 – Seattle Supersonics – the famous duel between Gary Payton and Michael Jordan, unfortunately, was incredibly one-sided. The Seattle Supersonics really only had two good players, Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. Kemp was an effective forward, but his work ethic left much to be desired, and the team did not have the depth that the Bulls had, with Pippen and Dennis Rodman working as incredible defenders while Michael Jordan constantly took shot after shot, making only 46% of his shots, which is low for the “greatest player of all time.”

1997-1998 – Utah Jazz – Probably the best team Jordan faced in the finals, this Jazz team was admittedly stocked with high-level talent, which included the likes of John Stockton and Karl Malone. Still, this team paled in comparison to the 1980’s Utah Jazz, who had defensive presence Mark Eaton to stop the offensive teams in the low post.

As we can see, the teams Jordan faced in 1990s finals either had low post defensive issues, were not as good as they were in the 80s (which is why they could be overrated), or lacked great depth.

366 Responses

  1. Justin Neal 3 years ago
    • Ryan Miskin 3 years ago
    • Jay 2 years ago
      • paul love 2 years ago
        • Anthony Costanzo 2 years ago
          • Antonio 2 years ago
        • PJ 1 year ago
        • MArino 1 year ago
        • El Gigante 10 months ago
        • Aria 7 months ago
      • Britney 1 year ago
      • Goat 2 months ago
    • Anthony Costanzo 2 years ago
      • M 2 years ago
      • Jonathan Mowe 2 years ago
    • Phil Koch 2 years ago
      • Robert Trevino 2 years ago
        • MJ4Life 2 years ago
          • Robert Trevino 2 years ago
          • Joe 2 years ago
          • Mario W. 1 year ago
          • Codell 1 year ago
          • Billy R 6 months ago
        • slim 2 years ago
          • Kyle 2 years ago
        • mikedotsun 2 years ago
          • Clarke Chambers 2 years ago
          • Kody Coleman 1 year ago
          • Harrison V 1 year ago
          • Wayne 1 year ago
          • James 11 months ago
          • Ron Weasley 7 months ago
        • Jonathan Mowe 2 years ago
        • Steve 2 years ago
          • Cameron 12 months ago
          • MmmGOAT 10 months ago
          • Boss 8 months ago
        • Bryan c 2 years ago
        • Peter 1 year ago
          • Ben 1 year ago
          • Matt 8 months ago
        • Joel Onor Dorego 1 year ago
        • adambe 1 year ago
        • Andy 1 year ago
        • Nunya 1 year ago
        • Bryan Renzi 9 months ago
        • Aaron 5 months ago
        • The Finch 3 months ago
      • Tony 2 years ago
      • Winston 2 years ago
      • Kalel Wilson 2 years ago
      • Nic 2 years ago
      • Tristan 1 year ago
      • Harrison V 1 year ago
      • joey 1 year ago
      • Mavo 12 months ago
      • El Gigante 10 months ago
      • jean kim 3 months ago
      • Gabriel Perez 1 month ago
    • CMN 2 years ago
      • CMN 2 years ago
      • juboi 2 years ago
      • Weeeeeeeeiiiillll 2 years ago
      • DB 11 months ago
        • Ryan Hahn 10 months ago
      • El Gigante 10 months ago
    • dubatl 2 years ago
    • Moses 2 years ago
    • Chuck Sussman 1 year ago
    • Ken Welch 1 year ago
    • Alan 12 months ago
    • Charles 10 months ago
    • joey 9 months ago
    • John Mardo 8 months ago
    • Andrew D 7 months ago
    • Justine ling 7 months ago
    • Mike 7 months ago
    • Tej 7 months ago
    • Cody 7 months ago
    • Vignesh Subramanian 3 months ago
    • Alexis 3 months ago
    • Voss 3 months ago
  2. John Todd 3 years ago
    • Steve Swangler 2 years ago
      • Sam Roberts 2 years ago
        • Kody Coleman 1 year ago
          • Alexander Fernandez 1 year ago
  3. Austin Pitts 2 years ago
    • Virtus 1 year ago
  4. Travis Andrews 2 years ago
    • Come on Brah. 2 years ago
      • Eric 2 years ago
        • Connor 2 years ago
          • Tej 7 months ago
      • JB 2 years ago
      • Alexander Fernandez 1 year ago
    • Sam Roberts 2 years ago
      • chris0311 2 years ago
      • Cameron 12 months ago
    • Jay 2 years ago
      • Razard 2 years ago
    • Hutch 2 years ago
      • Derrion Arrington 2 years ago
        • Matt 8 months ago
      • Trav 2 years ago
        • b 8 months ago
          • Nelson styles 7 months ago
      • Ryan Hahn 10 months ago
  5. Sterling 2 years ago
    • Dre 2 years ago
      • Cameron 12 months ago
  6. torggo 2 years ago
  7. R.J. 2 years ago
    • Hutch 2 years ago
      • Harry 2 years ago
      • Alexander Fernandez 1 year ago
    • Joe 2 years ago
    • Thomas Kelley 2 years ago
      • Nah 8 months ago
  8. Will 2 years ago
    • Cole 11 months ago
    • The Finch 3 months ago
  9. Ken 2 years ago
  10. Anthony El Asmar 2 years ago
    • The Finch 3 months ago
  11. Terry g 2 years ago
    • The Finch 3 months ago
  12. Sean 2 years ago
  13. Lakersoldier 2 years ago
    • The Finch 3 months ago
  14. Ken P 2 years ago
    • Roy M. L. 5 months ago
    • The Finch 3 months ago
  15. Brad Sims 2 years ago
  16. jon 2 years ago
    • The Finch 3 months ago
  17. Will smith 2 years ago
    • The Finch 3 months ago
  18. Peter 2 years ago
    • The Finch 3 months ago
  19. Ryan 2 years ago
    • The Finch 3 months ago
  20. JWG 2 years ago
    • J 2 years ago
    • The Finch 3 months ago
  21. DJS 2 years ago
    • The Finch 3 months ago
  22. jethuy2 2 years ago
    • Sam Roberts 2 years ago
      • JWG 2 years ago
    • The Finch 3 months ago
  23. David Johnson 2 years ago
    • Jonsanity 2 years ago
      • Hutch 2 years ago
        • The Finch 3 months ago
      • The Finch 3 months ago
    • John 2 years ago
      • The Finch 3 months ago
  24. Jonsanity 2 years ago
  25. hka 2 years ago
  26. hka 2 years ago
  27. doug e fresh 2 years ago
    • Cameron 12 months ago
      • Uhhuhokay 9 months ago
  28. whyudodis 2 years ago
  29. Soja 2 years ago
  30. Jose 2 years ago
  31. Dave 2 years ago
  32. KG 2 years ago
  33. B 2 years ago
    • Cameron 12 months ago
  34. joe 2 years ago
  35. nora balduffcc 2 years ago
  36. MarsIntheHall 2 years ago
  37. Chris 2 years ago
    • Mark McDaniel 2 months ago
  38. drew 2 years ago
  39. andrew berger 2 years ago
  40. Dan Brown 2 years ago
    • Cameron 12 months ago
  41. geoff 2 years ago
  42. BSimm 2 years ago
  43. Matt 2 years ago
  44. Darnell 2 years ago
    • Cameron 12 months ago
  45. CJ 2 years ago
    • Cameron 12 months ago
  46. Addison jones 2 years ago
  47. Van Rome 2 years ago
    • Alexander Fernandez 1 year ago
      • Cameron 12 months ago
    • Cameron 12 months ago
  48. Harold 2 years ago
  49. Main Event 2 years ago
  50. Joel 2 years ago
  51. Alonzo 2 years ago
  52. Sawyer 2 years ago
    • Evan 1 year ago
  53. dave 2 years ago
  54. Leo 2 years ago
  55. Jamal 2 years ago
    • Travis Richard White 2 years ago
      • Cameron 12 months ago
  56. JordanIsntThatGood 2 years ago
    • Travis Richard White 2 years ago
      • JordanIsntThatGood 2 years ago
        • Evan 1 year ago
          • Cole 11 months ago
      • Cameron 12 months ago
  57. Tony 2 years ago
  58. Redxan 2 years ago
  59. Redxan 2 years ago
  60. AJ 2 years ago
    • Travis Richard White 2 years ago
    • Evan 1 year ago
      • Cameron 12 months ago
  61. Pistol pete 2 years ago
  62. TAF 2 years ago
  63. Ben 2 years ago
    • Antonio 2 years ago
    • Cameron 12 months ago
  64. xtianalexander28 2 years ago
  65. Jason 2 years ago
  66. Rob 2 years ago
  67. Ron 2 years ago
  68. Rice 2 years ago
  69. GLinCT 2 years ago
  70. Vdub 2 years ago
  71. James Liston 2 years ago
  72. Mike 2 years ago
    • Kiwi 1 year ago
  73. Jerome 2 years ago
  74. dan 2 years ago
  75. Matt 2 years ago
  76. Matt 2 years ago
  77. Julie 2 years ago
  78. Matt 2 years ago
  79. Ryan 2 years ago
  80. tony 2 years ago
  81. tony 2 years ago
  82. Cornel 2 years ago
  83. Matt 2 years ago
  84. Frankie 2 years ago
  85. J.A 2 years ago
  86. mj da goat 2 years ago
    • Clay 1 year ago
  87. panero dela cruz 2 years ago
  88. Bryce 2 years ago
  89. Eric 2 years ago
  90. lol 2 years ago
  91. Rob 2 years ago
  92. [email protected] 2 years ago
  93. Clay 1 year ago
  94. Amiir 1 year ago
  95. Neil 1 year ago
  96. Kiwi 1 year ago
  97. james 1 year ago
  98. Daniel sandlin 1 year ago
  99. dcobb 1 year ago
  100. WMAYONILA LIKE MIKE 1 year ago
    • np 1 year ago
  101. Mike 1 year ago
  102. Aaron 1 year ago
  103. Ymous Anon 1 year ago
  104. b. wagner 1 year ago
  105. Joel Onor Dorego 1 year ago
  106. David 1 year ago
  107. dez nuts 1 year ago
  108. Kevin 1 year ago
  109. JoeLabo 1 year ago
  110. yococ 1 year ago
  111. Frank 1 year ago
    • Frank 1 year ago
  112. Julie ? 1 year ago
  113. Kingspeed 1 year ago
  114. Bullsfan23 1 year ago
  115. dahszil dahszil 1 year ago
  116. Daniel 1 year ago
  117. Gene 1 year ago
  118. Aidan 1 year ago
  119. George Foreman 804 1 year ago
  120. D 1 year ago
  121. scott c 1 year ago
  122. Cory 1 year ago
  123. nise 1 year ago
  124. Neville 1 year ago
  125. Ryan 1 year ago
  126. josh 1 year ago
  127. Basketball expert 1 year ago
  128. Baz 1 year ago
  129. Julian 1 year ago
  130. Phon 1 year ago
  131. Koy 1 year ago
  132. Joe 1 year ago
  133. Rich 12 months ago
    • Cole 11 months ago
  134. miles solomon 12 months ago
    • Cole 11 months ago
  135. Dakota 12 months ago
    • Cole 11 months ago
      • Jacob 10 months ago
  136. RichNyce1 12 months ago
    • john 12 months ago
  137. Chandler 12 months ago
  138. Jacob 12 months ago
  139. Carlos Cardoso 11 months ago
  140. Jeff Banks 11 months ago
  141. TonyClifton 11 months ago
  142. Cole 11 months ago
    • Cole 11 months ago
  143. Cole 11 months ago
  144. Bruce 11 months ago
  145. TITIMOMALIIT 11 months ago
  146. Nick 10 months ago
  147. Vicktor 10 months ago
  148. STOKANATOR 10 months ago
  149. Vincent 10 months ago
  150. Jacob 10 months ago
  151. joe 10 months ago
  152. Travis 10 months ago
    • Jake 4 months ago
  153. Kusha 9 months ago
    • Everyone but this Author 8 months ago
  154. Kusha 9 months ago
  155. Khalil 9 months ago
  156. Luke Emberton 9 months ago
  157. mikeyjoe 9 months ago
  158. Tommy 9 months ago
  159. Anthony "R2" Crosby 9 months ago
  160. Poopyochaka 9 months ago
  161. Poopyochaka 9 months ago
  162. rhoan 9 months ago
  163. Fred 9 months ago
    • JB 7 months ago
      • Andrew 7 months ago
  164. Darrel crutchfield 8 months ago
  165. LeGOAT 8 months ago
  166. Gregory D. 8 months ago
  167. Mike 8 months ago
  168. Nayshawn 8 months ago
  169. Michael 7 months ago
  170. Matthew 7 months ago
  171. Andrew 7 months ago
  172. Mike 7 months ago
    • DARREN POMPLUN 3 months ago
  173. Gio 7 months ago
  174. JIMMY 7 months ago
  175. To AIR is not human 6 months ago
  176. Rich 5 months ago
  177. John 5 months ago
  178. Brad Hernon 4 months ago
  179. jean kim 3 months ago
  180. Couldn't put it better myself 3 months ago
  181. jayr 3 months ago
  182. Dren Green 3 months ago
  183. DARREN POMPLUN 3 months ago
  184. Vignesh Subramanian 3 months ago
  185. Michael Jordan 2 months ago
  186. jay 2 months ago
  187. poogodinks 2 months ago
  188. Mtca 2 months ago
  189. derp 2 months ago
  190. Michael Song 3 weeks ago
  191. jaden 2 weeks ago

Add Comment

I Want to
Get New Lists In My Inbox

Discover the power of knowledge with new lists every single week