5. He Was Not a Great Playmaker
Michael Jordan wasn’t a horrible playmaker – although he was often selfish with the ball, he did average about 5 assists per game for his career. Still, his playmaking abilities left much to be desired, as his strategy was often to use his virtuosic scoring to lead his teams to victory, rather than to pass the ball to teammates in order to create difficult switches for the defense. This strategy only worked well when he had Pippen and either Horace Grant or Dennis Rodman to contribute to a deep defensive run, and did not work in the 80s before the Bulls drafted Scottie Pippen.
4. He Constantly Lost in the 1980s
Michael Jordan lost to the Detroit Pistons three straight times in the playoffs from 1987-1990, and never made it to the finals in the era of the “Showtime” Lakers, Bird’s deeply talented roster of Celtics, Erving’s 76ers, and a Utah Jazz team that was in their dominant prime. In the 1980s, NBA teams were much better and much deeper than they were in the 1990s, mostly due to the fact that the 90s were littered with low-quality expansion teams, as previously mentioned in this article.
3. Several Other Players Are Qualified for the Throne
Bill Russell led his team to eleven championships, Wilt Chamberlain actually averaged 50 points and 25 rebounds one season, Magic Johnson could play point guard as well as he could play center, Larry Bird was both an offensive threat and a great playmaker who dominated in the 1980s, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the all-time scoring champion with an equal number of championship rings to MJ and even six MVP trophies on top of that. I am not saying that Michael Jordan is definitively not the greatest NBA player of all time, but there are several other players who could compete for that title. Even Lebron James is a more efficient shooter and better playmaker than Michael ever was.
2. In 1998, the NBA Was Really Bad, Giving the Bulls An Easy Path to Be Number One
The 90s are mistakenly seen as a golden era of basketball – in 1998, the year MJ won his sixth title, there were six teams that did not make it past twenty wins. Wow! That means over 20% of the NBA lost more than sixty games, marking one of the least talented years of NBA basketball in all of sports history. Michael Jordan essentially cake-walked to the playoffs and to the finals that year, as the league was very one-sided in favor of just a few teams.
1. After His First Retirement, His Bulls Were Practically As Good As Before He Retired
When a great player leaves his team, typically the team falls apart after he leaves. This can be seen in a number of instances: when Lebron left the Cavs in 2010, the Cavs record dropped by over 40 wins the following season. When Shaq left the Lakers, they had difficulty making it to the postseason the first few years following his departure. And even as recently as this past season, the Celtics have become a shell of themselves after Pierce and Garnett left.
So when the “greatest player of all time” left the Chicago Bulls after his first retirement, you would imagine they lost by like, at least 20 more games the following season, right?
In actuality, led by the defensive grit of Scottie Pippen, the Bulls dropped only two more games than in the previous season. Yeap, you read that right, two games. With Michael Jordan in the 92-93 season, the Bulls had 57 wins, and in the 93-94 season without Jordan, they had a “paltry” 55 wins. Don’t you think that after the “Greatest Player of All Time” retires, his team would completely sink without him? Think again.