AJ23 vs. LJ23: Why I think that Michael Jordan deserves the “Goat” title

“There’s Michael, then there’s the rest of us,” said Magic Johnson, probably the best point guard to ever play his airness.

He was referring to the fact that even beyond the most talented basketball players there was another category for Jordan. There is no doubt that Michael was one of the most extraordinary athletes of all time, and yet current circumstances prompt the debate on whether he remains the greatest basketball player of all time. Since Jordan stopped playing 16 years ago, a new opportunity for someone else to dominate was opened, because of the massive piece that left the game.  

In the sport of basketball, Michael Jordan is my pick for the greatest of all time because of his stats, awards, and the originality of a new hard-work ethic that he brought to the game. First off, Michael Jordan is the best in basketball because his statistics and awards show that he dominated the sport. According to the Michael Jordan Career Retrospective on the National Basketball Association’s website, Jordan won 6 NBA championships, and was voted MVP in all of them. He won three of them in a row and then retired because of his father’s death and pursued professional baseball. After that, he came back and won three more in three consecutive years. He was awarded the NBA most valuable player title 5 times. Michael averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds,  5.3 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. These aren’t normal stats, and the combination of the awards just might have singled him out from all other players.

Michael Jordan made a trademark with his shoes and the rise of the slam dunk, even after he was cut from his varsity team his sophomore year in high school. Many people think that Jordan was always a spectacular player, but he certainly didn’t start out that way. According to Newsweek, when he didn’t make the varsity team his sophomore year “He went home, locked himself in his room, and cried.” He worked excruciatingly hard the next year and grew taller, becoming the iconic dunking prodigy that is pictured on the jumpman logo on Air Jordan sneakers. Once he came into the league, the trend in dunking began to increase, and he took it to the next level.

In the 1988 NBA All Star games’ slam dunk contest,  after many spectacular dunks, Jordan sealed his win by jumping from the foul line and then dunking the basketball (which is 15 feet from the hoop). He was awarded countless 10 out of 10’s (the best score possible to get) for that dunk, and it is still sometimes featured in highlights on some sports networks. Allow me to elaborate even further:

Beginning of the Free-Throw Line Dunk Section:

Only one human has ever flew; that individual was Michael Jordan. This was discovered during the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest while he was jumping from the free throw line. In the basketball world, this could arguably be the most iconic moment in its history. This snapshot was not just about the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all time) basketball player dunking; it was the living proof that people witnessed the impossible become possible. This reminded me that mankind’s idea of the impossible is only limited by their individual perception.

This dunk showcased the never-seen-before talents and skills that Jordan had. That high-flying moment revolutionized not only the game of basketball itself, but also the people’s perception of what hard work, grit and patience can accomplish. It was just after this contest that Michael Jordan was nicknamed “Air Jordan”, once again emphasizing his unique soaring abilities. Many basketball players that have come to the National Basketball Association have tried to imitate “Mike” in their dunks ever since.

The 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest was influential to many witnesses because people started to understand that they were witnessing the beginning of a new era, of not only basketball, but sports, in general, as well. Michael Jordan’s qualities, at the time, seemed unreal and quite superhuman to everyone in that no one had ever done anything remotely close to his free-throw-line dunk; which many photos have captured in an emphatic way.

Back to the Rest:

Today, a new NBA star has emerged to challenge Jordan’s position as the best player of all time — Lebron James, who is nick-named King James for a reason. Many people are starting to say that because certain parts of Lebron James’  appearance and stats are better, he is better than Michael Jordan. James has been playing quite well recently in the NBA, and is definitely a standout player. According to Basketball Reference, He has averaged 27.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game his entire career. Those are also amazing stats, having more rebounds and assists than Jordan, but he is still trailing in his points per game.

Lebron is 6’ 8” and weighs 250 pounds; that is 2 inches taller and 34 pounds heavier than Michael, so he has more of a muscle and height appearance advantage.  “I wear the number 23 because of Mike…” Lebron James said in a press conference after a playoff game, citing that the reason he wears the number 23 is after Michael Jordan. (Blasting News). Even though James pretty much trained himself when he was young, he still based his game off Air Jordan. Michael Jordan was one of the first players to show the world that hard work during hardship can create dominant success. There is a certain type of originality that makes certain individuals so legendary. Many people, especially in younger age, have only watched Lebron play, making it hard to not rank him as the best; some people have forgotten about MJ because they haven’t watched him play. Even though Lebron might seem better in our time, his awards aren’t anywhere near those that Michael earned (for example: Jordan’s record is 6/6 in the NBA finals and James’ is 3/9). With Lebron James still playing in the NBA, many people have started to forget about how Michael Jordan became the best (in my opinion), and set the bar to a level that is close to impossible to reach. When people start to rank one above the other, it sparks controversy because they played in different eras.
I believe that Michael Jordan will always be the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all time) because of his accomplishments, originality, and the joy he played with, that everyone loved to watch!  

Works Cited:

Badenhausen, Kurt. “Michael Jordan Leads The NBA’s Biggest Shoe Deals At $110 Million This Year.

Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 12 Dec. 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2017/06/09/the-nbas-biggest-shoe-deals/#46a67b691520

“Magic Johnson Quote.” A-Z Quotes, www.azquotes.com/quote/1426287. NBA.com: Michael Jordan Career Retrospective, www.nba.com/jordan/list_honors.html.

“Michael Jordan Didn’t Make Varsity-At First.” Newsweek, 25 Apr. 2016, www.newsweek.com/missing-cut-382954.Shakhpazyan, Vahan.

“LeBron James Reveals Why He Chose the Number 23.” Blasting News us.blastingnews.com/sports/2017/05/lebron-james-reveals-why-he-chose-the-number-23-001729173.html.