Skip to content

Did Jordan ruin it for Kobe, LeBron and everyone else?

Jul 25, 2011, 8:00 PM EDT

Michael Jordan AP

LeBron James is no Michael Jordan.

Kobe Bryant is no Michael Jordan.

Dwyane Wade, Vince Carter, Allen Iverson, Grant Hill and even Harold Minor have not been the next Michael Jordan. Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant will not be Jordan either.

Nobody is going to be the next Michael Jordan. Nobody. Ever. We know that, but we compare everyone who comes along to him. That leads to another question:

Is the shadow of Jordan ruining people’s ability to appreciate the players listed above — and many others — for what they are?

In an interesting post over at Hardwood Paroxysm, Scott Leedy delved into the subject.

Michael’s greatness has warped the way we evaluate and interpret the careers of today’s superstars. No one is allowed to succeed on their own terms: they must succeed on his. Nothing better exemplifies this than the career of one LeBron James. The Chosen One, King James, 6 foot 8 inches and 250 pounds of proof that mass times acceleration does indeed equal force. Outside of possibly Shaquille O’Neal, there has never been a more physically gifted player. At only 26 years old, this built for basketball cyborg has an incredible resume that includes two MVPs, a couple of the greatest statistical seasons ever, an all time WTF performance at Auburn Hills…
Despite LeBron’s accomplishments, most people, even supporters, would probably consider his career to be at least somewhat of a disappointment. Sadly, a lot of the criticism centers around the same tired, unoriginal and uninspired refrain: “Michael Jordan NEVER would have (fill in the blank here)”. Michael never would have left Cleveland. Michael never would have teamed up with Wade. Michael never would have played a couple bad games in the finals. Michael never would have worn a headband. Michael’s hairline never would have receded like that.

In Kobe’s case, he has made it his mission to get as many rings as MJ (he’s short one but the Lakers are still contenders), to pass Jordan on the all-time scoring list, to best MJ in every category he can. But he will still never be Jordan.

LeBron has yet to approach that kind of success (he’s still just 26, we don’t know what his legacy will be yet). But is he being held up to an unfair standard — something he has helped bring on himself, but an unfair standard none-the-less.

Maybe it’s time to let Kobe be Kobe, LeBron be LeBron and not say that they have to be Jordan. It’s not going to happen, but think about it next time you say “Jordan would never have…..”

  1. danj3678 - Jul 25, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    Ohhhhh … tried to disguise this one with a Jordan title, but I’m counting this as a Lebron article from Kurt Helin… Who I swear is actually Lebron James sitting in his basement in between workouts writing articles about himself.

  2. pl4tinum514 - Jul 25, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    No. F–k Lebron.

  3. edmazeing1 - Jul 25, 2011 at 8:53 PM

    Ever one already answer a topic like this the other day, whats goin on?

  4. superg2 - Jul 25, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    Jordan would never lose in the finals

  5. chargerdillon - Jul 25, 2011 at 9:07 PM

    Jordan is the single most overhyped example of one player getting the credit for an all star supporting cast.

    Jordan is one of the best players of all time, just like Kobe is. Kobe didn’t win rings (just like Shaq) until he had a teamate that was as close to their dominance but willing to take a back seat to make it work. Jordan had the luxury of alwaying being “the man” but there’s a reason Scottie Pippen has his own statue too.

    Guess what happens when you put Wade and James on the same team? First year in the finals 2 games away from the championship. Do you think it would be any differently if you put Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant on the same team too?

    How many dominant superstars won without another domiant superstar on their team. Jordan is the hype machine because of movies, commercials, sports products that continue his legacy without him playing. I have 100% respect for him, but I’m a fan of basketball and I grew up in Jordans era of commercial success.

    • musilly - Jul 25, 2011 at 10:00 PM

      You’re right but I would’ve put it a little differently.

      (1) Jordan is the GOAT

      (2) Still, he’s over-hyped to the extent that people minimize the quality of his supporting cast. This has a lot to do with his amazing commercial appeal, the institutional support behind him, and American mores that tend to value individualism over team/community (gold star if you see the irony of this last point).

      • ku62 - Nov 6, 2011 at 7:09 PM

        I have to disagree with both points – though they are both true.

        1) Jordan was the best for a while – after the Bird/Magic era brought pro basketball out of the dark ages, before the media glare dimmed our perception.

        There never can be accurate comparisons between Wilt-Shaq, between Russel-Olajuwan, between Big-O, Dr-J, between any of the truly greats of two different eras.

        2) Jordan seems over-hyped because the hype machine hit its peak during his heyday. Earlier players just didn’t get the hype because it wasn’t there to be gotten. Later players are suffering from the hype machine driving itself off the track.

        We aren’t really measuring the players against each other, but the hype that is put out about them by a media that sucks hardest on the biggest teats – and calls that ‘keeping us informed’.

  6. Reddy - Jul 25, 2011 at 10:18 PM

    You guys need to get some Vhs’s from 94/95. Pippen? lmfao.

    Jordan – Best Ever. Hands down.

  7. boston2923 - Jul 25, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    Wow don’t believed I just read Jordan was overhyped must be a laker or heat fan those two will never be close to Jordan NEVER. Espc lebron greats show up in the fourth quarter SMH

  8. er0ck5 - Jul 25, 2011 at 11:20 PM

    Let’s not overrate the supporting cast. Luc Longley was the starting Center on that 2nd 3-peat team. Ron Harper, (another “next Michael Jordan”), a well out of his prime Ron Harper, was the starting PG. They did have Pippen and Rodman too, but had players like Jud Buechler, Bill Wennington, Randy Brown coming off the bench. Kerr should be mentioned too, but he was just a role player.

    • secdominance - Jul 26, 2011 at 12:29 AM

      all those players knew their role and did what they were needed to do. Jordan’s supporting cast is good or bad depending on their need to hype the greatness of Jordan.

      I consider Jordan to be the best ever, however Magic Johnson and Kareem both have legitimate arguments to that claim

      • ku62 - Nov 6, 2011 at 7:21 PM

        To mention Magic and Kareem shows the limit of your experience. Any discussion of a GOAT has to include names you may not know – like Bob Cousey, Marcus Haines, Tom Heinsohn, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Bill Russell.

  9. sasquash20 - Jul 26, 2011 at 1:18 AM

    Jordan is one of the greatest ever, but there are several players you can put up there with him. He had the benefit of playing at a time when ESPN exploded as did his career. The hype they created together is the same that hurts LeBron now. Computers, sports stations running highlights 24/7 all helped MJ be crowned the best ever. What if Kareem, Wilt, Oscar, or Russel had anything close to the exposure that Jordan had.

    I personally feel MJ is top 5 but not the best ever. I feel that the league as a whole is watered down. More teams spread the talent around too much. Teams today aren’t as good as teams in the 60s and 70s. Heck even the 80s where much better then teams then today. The 90s had some good, but also many bad teams. And that is Jordan’s best time as a player. I’m not knocking MJ, but rather trying to look at it in a different perspective then most do.

    I also feel players from the 90s on get away with way more then players did way back in the day. Traveling, palming the ball used to be called. Neither is called enough now. Offensive push offs never get called and Jordan was the king of that. Fouls get called against defensive players that didn’t back in the day as well, which leads to more free throws. More free throws leads to more easy points. Maybe the NBA realized offense generates ratings, which generates revenues. The NFL has realized this as well. Look at all the rules they have changed in the last few years to help the offense dominate the defense.

    Its just too hard to crown players of today’s era with those of the past eras. Too many different factors to consider one better then the other. Training knowledge and dieting knowledge also would give today’s players a major benefit. So in closing I would have to say Jordan is one of the best ever, but best ever I’m just not so sure. LeBron is talented but has nowhere near the drive to be the best that Jordan or even Kobe have.

    • musilly - Jul 26, 2011 at 2:32 AM

      Great comment. Perhaps one should distinguish between “best” and “greatest.” It’s impossible to say who the BEST player of all-time is–and that “is” is part of the problem (Bill Clinton ain’t the only one who can talk about “is”). It’s often assumed that all these players are. That they’re still here, available to be analyzed and compared. Obviously that’s not the case. They existed in the past and at different points in the past and without some form of time-travel, some way that we can pit an in-his-prime Big O against and in-his-prime MJ, there’s no way to say definitively that one guy is better than another and that one guy is better than everybody else.

      But greatest…greatest might be a better way to think about it. MJ was/is the greatest in the sense that as far as basketball goes, he’s the mythical one that looms largest in our collective imagination. His play had a lot to do with this, but so did his emergence in the age of ESPN and all that stuff.

  10. cityofsharks - Jul 26, 2011 at 1:30 AM

    Jordan was a great player and had the support of Pippen, Jordan wouldn’t be who was with out him , kobe wouldn’t have been who he is without shaq… Somewhere there is a kid playing ball on a court right now ,that has the skills to play in the NBA , he just hasn’t been discovered yet… Will anyone ever be the next Jordan? I say yes & better…..

  11. jaypace - Jul 26, 2011 at 2:09 AM

    First off mj is not over hyped or over rated. He is who we think he is, the greatest of all time. I do however think it is unfair how anytime a great guard comes along he is compared to mj. First not everyone should be compared to the greatest to play the position. We need to stop. The only player now that should be compared is Kobe because he wants to be better and compared to mj. He will never be viewed in the same light, but Kobe is as great a basketball talent you will ever see. Players of this generation grew up watching mj and modeled their games after him, so the feeling that we should compare based on the similarity of their games is always going to be there. Mj’s supporting cast was a product of mj’s competitiveness. Pippen was the overrated one and mike got the absolute most out of them. I think that is where mj and today’s superstars differ. Kobe’s lakers are one of the most talented teams in the league and have been for all of his chips. Lebron is part of the big three. Mj will always get the consideration because people view him as doing it alone(which he really did). Anyway if a player is ever compared they should feel honored because that means they are a superstar of the league.

  12. r0llinginthedeep - Jul 26, 2011 at 2:16 AM

    Jordan is the benchmark. He is the greatest player of all time.

    I really don’t understand why comparing the best players of future generations to him is such a bad thing (even though it is likely that no one will ever meet the standards he has set). Any wing player that takes the league by storm is going to have their abilities and accomplishments contrasted with his, because it’s simply the nature of the sport.

    • seanpaul83 - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:57 PM

      It’s not a bad thing to compare people to the best, but in Jordan’s case it is completely unfair. There is not another sports athlete that is the undisputed GREATEST in his sport. I mean clearly, with argument from 99% of people, the best.

      Baseball? Babe Ruth? Mickey Mantle?

      Boxing? Paquiao? Tyson? Ali?

      Football? Payton? Manning?

      Golf? Woods? Nicklaus?

      Hockey? Gretzky? Hull?

      I mean its not ever fair that no one is even close and probably will never be. Jordan did so much with so little. And he was clutch, and people tried to stop him and they just couldn’t. What ever they did they could not stop him and he adjusted to every circumstance. He led the league in scoring 8 years in a row and still managed to win. Kobe led in scoring to lose. Kobe is the most Jordan-like player, but he still comes up short in winning and leading the team from all those years with Shaq. Lebron is more of a Magic-like player than anything but he’s probably more of a player that has never been seen. The comparisons will continue to suck for everyone to come into the league because the bar is set so high. Maybe its like those old school records that will never happen again. In no way can someone average a triple double again like Big O did, nor will some one average 25 rebounds again like Wilt. So we should just get it all out of our minds.

  13. bhester1906 - Jul 26, 2011 at 8:28 AM

    Chargerdillion, who let you in the house? MJ earned every bit of hype hes gotten. He is theGOAT. You must be a Knick, 6 jazz, pistons, lakers, cavaliers, sonics, or duke fan. Or just some team jordan and his team destroyed on his way to greatness.

  14. diablito0402 - Jul 26, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    Jordan overhyped with a allstar cast, hahahahaha, lets see bill winnington bill cartwright bj armstrong luke longly ron harper john paxton tony kukoc craig hodges stacey king should i go on, the reason pipper was any good was because jordan had a triple team on him at all times and left pip all alone for layups all the time.

  15. chargerdillon - Jul 26, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    How many great superstars played the majority of their career with another hall of fame level star on their team or 2 hall of fame level stars on their team?

    Jordan did, just saying. I can take the blinders off to appreciate more than just his hype. Jordan was the greatest player of his era, but his era is over

    Eventually maybe some of you will come back to the reality that basketball is an exciting game and there’s more than Jordan to talk about

  16. diablito0402 - Jul 26, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    And his era is the best and toughest era ever too. Could you imagine bron bron going to the lane and taking a elbow to the face now a days, also the way he flops, nobody would respect him, hell nobody respects him now, did you see the list of when they asked other players on who would they like to take the last shot on game 7 in the finals, hint lebron wasnt any where to be found on the list, neither was wilt, bill rusell, ohh you guessed right Michael Jordan,, look it up,

    • sasquash20 - Jul 29, 2011 at 11:30 PM

      His era was one of the weakest. MJ is awesome but that is a lame statement. 60s and 70s are and will always be the best eras for the NBA. I hate the Celtics but Jordan’s bull would have never beaten Russel’s Celtics, NEVER!

  17. diablito0402 - Jul 26, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    To answer your question, on kobes last two championships, name another superstar or hall of famer on his team, and dont even say gasol because hes good but not that good.

  18. acdrew22 - Jul 26, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Jordan would have never… scored 81 points in a game, and would have never gotten to the finals with a supporting cast that lebron had when the cavs went

  19. dexterismyhero - Jul 26, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    The Big O’s total #’s show that he averaged a triple double in his first 5 season’s in the league. In 61/62 he actually made the triple/double for the year. He missed it his rookie season with only 9.7 assists. His third season with 9.5 assists and then in the 4th & 5th sesons he missed with 9.9 & 9.0 rebounds per game.

    Jordan never even averaged a double/double.

  20. kobemvp888 - Jul 26, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    It’s funny how reading through these comments, nobody ever mentions Phil Jackson, particularly as it applies to Michael Jordan who might have wound up being another LeBron if it wasn’t for Coach Eleven Rings. If anyone has been watching NBA-TV Hardwood Classics, the 1989 playoffs have been featured and Jordan, in his 5th year, was a wilder player than Kobe was in his fourth under Phil’s guidance. Phil Jackson harnessed those talents and allowed them to blossom in a team context. So if you are going to credit Michael Jordan for being the unconditional G.O.A.T., then let’s not underestimate fo a moment how Phil Jackson made that possible for him.

  21. kobemvp888 - Jul 26, 2011 at 11:57 PM

    Oh, and for the record, the difference between Kobe and MIchael is infinitesimal. Michael jordan got preferential treatment by the refs, where Kobe has had to earn most if his 27,868 points. Michael Jordan was handed the keys to the Bulls as a rookie. Kobe had to play second fiddle to Shaq for 8 seasons. Michael was a bit stronger and had those huge mitts, but Kobe has better range and a sweeter jumpshot. In the post, they are equivalents and they’re array of shots is similar with an edge to Kobe. The work ethic was the same and they are the two greatest killers in the history of the sport. Michael Jordan played in a watered down Eastern Conference during his championships, the second best wing player was on his own team, the NBA was weak at small forward and shooting guard during his years, the NBA expanded by 6 teams during the 90’s, the league didn’t have the influx of Euros since Kobe entered the league, and he played against mediocre Finals teams. Kobe, on the other hand, played in a MUCH tougher Western Conference throughout his career, recently beat a former champion in 2010 in the NBA Finals, has played against much tougher competition at his position and fought through adversity rather than quit and play baseball. I found it offensive as hell when Jordan put Kobe at the “top 10 at his position,” yet Kobe is humble to always say that it’s an honor to be spoken of among the all-time great players. Perhaps Jordan should try a little humility and be honored when he’s compared to Kobe.

  22. louxi - Jul 27, 2011 at 2:13 AM

    yeah, i cant believe either that mj’s overhyped because again of the commercials and stuff…yeah, he was by far the best pitchman out there, but it seems like some wants to put it in a context that he wasn’t out there, killing and playing his butt off day and night. it was thanks to his play, style of play, competitiveness,etc..that made him get those endorsements..i do believe that kobe should be kobe, and mj is arguably the best, or one of the best.
    i just cant fathom the ridiculous thing of him being overhyped,and that ESPN is like his sole reason for stardorm!! pathetic excuse!.

    there will be greater than mj..i do too, hope for that..
    but then what? will this stop? maybe, maybe not..
    lets just accept the fact that mj dominated his era above all else..that his legacy is haunting for some, that is not his problem!

  23. carlos23skype - Jul 27, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    Ur damn right!! But it so happends that every Kobe Fanboy out ther that i know, are always trying to compare kobe to jordan, and most of them dont like lebron because he is the one making that dream doesnt come true, he is a Kobe killer, Not a jordan wanabe (copying his style) like someone around there…..K….b…. So this is very true Kobe is Kobe and Lebron is Lebron… Eveb though kobe fanboys wont Eveeerr understand that!!!!

  24. cosanostra71 - Jul 28, 2011 at 8:37 PM

    stop comparing people to MJ and just let them play their own games. Enjoy greatness while it lasts. Especially with a player like Kobe who is in the twilight of his career.

    And MJ is a great player, probably the best ever, but I hate when people say, “There will never be someone better than him.” How do you know that? There could be some little 3 year old right now that will end up being better than him.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2161)
  2. K. Irving (1793)
  3. A. Davis (1628)
  4. L. James (1433)
  5. K. Bryant (1389)
  1. K. Durant (1318)
  2. A. Aminu (1254)
  3. T. Thompson (1217)
  4. M. Leonard (1212)
  5. A. Jefferson (1204)