Why Michael Jordan is overrated
Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time, but he’s also probably one of the most overrated player of all time.
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: MJ has the rings, the MVPs, and all of the NBA success imaginable, but he’s also frequently hyped up beyond reason.
I undoubtedly have to qualify my argument because, as I have said before, Michael Jordan is clearly the greatest player of all time. Six NBA championships, six Finals MVPs, five regular season MVPs, a DPOY award…yes, it’s spectacular. Yet even though he earned some credit for bringing an international audience to the NBA, there is even a catch there. Jordan happened to enter his prime just after the extremely popular Magic-Bird rivalry that single-handedly brought the NBA back to relevance on the national stage.
Using the dictionary definition of overrated as “to rate or appraise too highly,” here’s why I think MJ is given more accolades than he deserves:
He played in a diluted NBA league
Many times, the argument has been made (particularly by fans of Kobe Bryant who compare MJ to the Black Mamba) that the league has gotten better over the years. While that may seem intuitive with improved training regimens and better medical treatment, old school players like Dennis Rodman claim this is a league of boys. So which one is it?
I think there is a common ground that we can all reach: the players today are better in general than previous eras because of technological advancements (ie 28-year-old LeBron James of 2013 is better than 28-year-old LeBron James would be in, say, 1980). But if you were to give the players of the 80s the 2013 training, it’s a debate that really could be decided by the flip of a coin.
But the main reason that it is clear that MJ played in a diluted league is that SIX expansion teams made it to the NBA from 1988 to 1995 (Charlotte Hornets, Heat, T’wolves, Magic, Raptors, and Grizzlies). With all of the rules involved in expansion drafts (like the Bobcats in 2004), the league is easier for great teams to exploit. It’s not his fault, but MJ, in his prime, certainly benefited from this.
He was gifted with multiple Hall of Fame teammates and a HOF coach
Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Phil Jackson headline the excellent supporting cast that Jordan had as a member of the Chicago Bulls. This isn’t to discredit anything that he did, just to highlight that it wasn’t a one-on-five show as many YouTube comments on MJ videos might suggest. MJ had help to win his championships and also great teams beat great individuals. Just ask LeBron James about the 2007 Spurs.
His marketability drove him to sky-high status
The Michael Jordan brand is something that is still immensely popular today. Combine that with the highlight reels that play from Jordan’s career and youngsters will watch in awe as a man known as Air Jordan reached sky-high heights floating above the rim. The marketability during his career was only the beginning in a off-the-court career that would help make Jordan a very wealthy man who people put on a pedestal. (My point with this article is just how high that pedestal should really be.)
Young people + the internet
News spreads like wildfire over the internet with virality. One post, video, status can hit Facebook or Twitter and suddenly news outlets like CNN are covering something posted on a relatively obscure website or Twitter feed. Now put Michael Jordan’s highlight reels on the web and you’ll see where that begins. The oohing and aahing won’t end…and they shouldn’t because Jordan did things on a basketball court that were superior to any of his contemporaries and predecessors. (We’ll see what the future holds as it pertains to Jordan’s spot atop the GOAT throne.)
But anybody born in 1990s (or later) isn’t going to remember “The Shot” in 1989 or the Flu Game in 1997 and most of all they won’t remember what he was like on a night-to-night basis. The status of these historic performances is amplified excessively with the Internet.
So much so that Michael Jordan is often overrated.
Image credit: @Jumpman23, Michael Jordan's official twitter