Who doesn’t want more Michael Jordan in their life? For those who are craving more MJ as the ESPN documentary, The Last Dance, winds toward its conclusion, the Worldwide Leader and its family of networks and NBA shows have you more than covered.
For the second straight week, I Love 90s Basketball focused on the best of MJ’s career, this time breaking down his best defensive highlights. Check them out.
MJ’s play on defense often gets lost when people talk about his greatness, but Paul can attest to what it does for your whole team when you play with someone as driven as Jordan on the defensive side of the ball.
“I had a chance to really feel what that was like, playing with a guy as competitive as Jordan on that end of the court, in Kevin Garnett. Just to play with somebody like that, it’ll make your teammates like that and better on that end of the court,” The Truth said. You always had to know where Jordan was at all times on the court.”
On The Jump, there were several Michael-driven segments. On one day, Paul, Jay Williams and Rachel Nichols looked at MJ’s absurd mid-range shot charts. The Truth, a self-professed “mid-range guy,” said between shooting more threes and his lethal mid-range game, MJ would’ve been even more effective in the current era,
“Players always make the adjustment. Jordan would average more points, in an era where we shot more threes. Who could forget that memorable Finals game where Jordan made 5-6-7-threes against the Trailblazers. People act like Jordan couldn’t shoot threes. He would destroy the league now. He would be setting all-time records,” Paul said. “His mid-range would be most effective. I’m still upset, because I was a mid-range guy, that the mid-range is a lost art in this game.”
Paul, Rachel and Jay then assessed Michael as a teammate and the perception that the ESPN doc is painting him as a bad guy through the way he treated teammates. Paul defended MJ’s prickly nature, noting that demanding the best out of one’s teammates is what made champions and was a hallmark as his 2008 Champion Celtics.
“I come from an era where that was normal, to get on your teammates,” Paul said. “When a teammate, Antoine Walker, KG, some of my teammates, maybe cussed me out or got on me, it made me play harder. That was the era that we lived in. He pushed his [teammates]. What are we judged on as great players in the NBA? Winning. When Jordan got on his teammates, it was trying to win, trying to be better.”
Watch The Jump crew hash it out below.
Jordan’s drive to make his teammates better and have them playing at a championship level came at the expense of some of the greatest players in NBA history, who hit their primes at a time when MJ and the Bulls were dominating, therefore depriving them of legacy-making titles.
The likes of Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton, Karl Malone and Reggie Miller came up ring-less because of Michael. Paul believes it’s Malone, a two-time MVP, who now falls short in the all-time power forward discussion to fellow two-time MVP and five-time champ Tim Duncan.
“We would be talking about him as being probably the best power forward of all-time if he gets one, maybe two rings during that time,” Truth said. “I couldn’t imagine playing in the Jordan era. There were no rings available until those two years he retired in the 90s. All these guys were in their prime. But there’s no shame. You lost to the greatest player of all-time.”
Watch Paul, Rachel Nichols and Tracy McGrady discuss it below.
On yet another episode of The Jump, Rachel, Paul and Zach Lowe reacted to The Last Dance’s portrayal of late Bulls GM Jerry Krause as perhaps MJ’s biggest foil. The way the Jump trio sees it, that perception is not fair to MJ’s greatness as a player or Krause’s success as an executive in putting the players around Michael to help him be as successful as he was.
“Michael was going to be great. I think what Jerry Krause was able to do was just put the players in place. No GM is going to make a player great. That’s all up to the player, what’s in him, what’s driving him,” Paul said. “What he was able to do was build a team around him to take his greatness to new levels.”
Paul then compared the dynamic between the two to his own with Celtics general manager Danny Ainge. Check what he had to say about that below and watch The Jump weekdays at 3pm ET on ESPN.