Below is the text of the same exact email I sent to airjudden. In his/her website, he extensively chronicled points as to why Michael Jordan (MJ) can’t be considered the greatest ever. He shares valuable points and insights to justify his claims. In fact, I think he really wants it to be so encompassing in the guise of highlighting other ballers’ accomplishment but it’s really just so that other not-so-vital tidbits may be included to shatter MJ’s greatness.
The thing is, he obviously shies away from one very significant factor as to why people regard MJ as the best ever – how he has consistently managed to raise his game when it matters the most – on the biggest basketball stage – The NBA Playoffs. Like him, I challenge anyone who can name me a baller who has managed to elevate his game more as the playoffs progresses all the way to the Finals.
Accordingly, he ranks four men ahead of MJ as greatest ever. So, one by one, I tried to prove otherwise and establish MJ as the greatest PER my criteria. A criteria, that I think, differentiates greatness from mere talent, luck and biological advantages.
He always maintains that MJ being #1 is just a product of pure media-hype. All I can say is, no matter how much hype the media generates on a baller, if he can’t execute the plays that matter the most, nothing would come out of it. MJ has time and again proved his worth, not only during routine regular season games but more importantly deep into the NBA Playoffs. And that, for me, makes him the greatest ever. Read on:
I’m an MJ fanatic. I believe he’s the greatest. On the other hand, obviously that’s crap for you. No worries, I come in peace and in the name of “sound” basketball discussion. That’s your opinion and I respect that. Your criteria is different (and shall we say more encompassing, even includes college/amateur ranks and tons of stats).
Can’t help but comment though on your own rankings. For me the measure of a really great athlete is his performance WHEN IT COUNTS THE MOST. And for the need for quantifiable gauge, I’m putting much emphasis on NBA Playoff performance of the players – significant measure of which is The Finals MVP. Because I believe this is where pretenders are weeded out from great performers.
Wilt – As dominating as he was during the regular seasons, he can’t even score more than MJ in a playoff game and in career average. Ok, he takes the cake in Rebs, Blocks, etc. But if he was really that great, imposing and dominating, how come he got just 2 Finals MVP’s (assuming 1 from Philly’s championship run)? Aren’t great players suppose to get it up several notches higher deep into the season? Oh and sinking their freethrows with regularity shouldn’t be a tall order for great players, right?
Big O – Perhaps the most complete and statistically-gifted baller in history. Then again, if he can dominate on his own, and make his teammates even better, how come he’s got only 1 championship ring to show? And no Finals MVP to boot? So he just coasted during his entire career? I know lots of other players who can fill up the stat sheets day in and day out. So, nothing quite special there. What was he doing when his team was getting eliminated season after season? Still filling up the stats sheet? That’s cute but not great.
Larry – 3 straight regular season MVP’s (only man to do so apart from Wilt and Bill) something MJ didn’t accomplish. But then again, even Steve Nash won back to back. But when the real season unfolds, how did Larry Legend fare? He got 2 Finals MVP’s of the C’s 3 championships in the ‘80’s. Cedric Maxwell managed to upstage his star teammates’ efforts and get one for himself. Cedric Maxwell. But yes, Larry is in my top 5, just not ahead of MJ who would take it upon himself when the going gets really tough – 6 out of 6 times.
Magic – A winner in every level of basketball play. 3 Finals MVP’s, 1 during his rookie season at that! Suave playmaker and can take charge when he wants to. But he needed an aging KAJ to deliver a Finals MVP performance in ‘85 for them to win the championship. Ok, he’s that good at making his teammates (Worthy in ‘88 as well) better. But then again, his 3 Finals MVP’s are just HALF of what MJ has. Add to that, was he even regarded as a Defensive Player at all? MJ was, even winning DPY back in ‘88.
I know I can NEVER convince you MJ is the greatest. But certainly, those 4 players you mentioned ahead of MJ have more knocks than MJ himself.
Ok, using my criteria of playoff performance and Finals MVP, one name comes to mind that you may blurt out to topple MJ – Bill Russell, after whom the Finals MVP trophy is actually named. He was playing coach, defensive demon (DPY award wasn’t handed out yet during his era, as well as the Finals MVP), 11 championship rings, etc. etc. Of course, my bias for MJ over Bill would be – with the game on the line, who would you rather have the ball and maybe take the last shot if needed? Thanks for Hondo, Bill was redeemed of his booboo in the relatively simple task of JUST inbounding the basketball.
It’s just that “Greatness” is both quantitative and qualitative. That’s why people all have varying opinions. The mere fact that you’ve established your site to PRIMARILY debunk the notion that MJ is the greatest, even adds to his greatness. Why? Would it even warranted the same meticulous effort and attention on your part if other people were insinuating other players as the greatest? I’m sure the task would have been either too easy or too foolish to even consider undertaking.
Anyway have a good one, dude. Awesome stuff on your site.