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20

The problem with the Michael Jordans

by Jared Belson on Dec. 20, 2014

Let's settle this debate right now. Michael Jordan had the greatest impact ever of any player in the NBA. Yet he was not physically the best basketball player ever. The reason is because time adapts and grows.

Michael Jordan created Phase 1 of the new generation of domination. He came at a time when everyone was playing great team basketball, and put the league on tilt. He decided screw the team, I can beat everyone I'm playing with and against, so why not beat them myself. Let my team do what they do best, and adapt around me and clean up the rest. It worked and no one knew how to stop him for 6 championships.

Towards the end of his career the NBA started realizing, we don't have the players like Mike to dominate, but we have the size, so let's dominate the way we used to. And they did. Hakeem, Duncan and Robinson, and Shaq. They created Phase 2.

Little by little throughout Michael Jordan's career, the young kids all wanted to be like him, so they tried to dominate on the court like Mike. Slowly they all started coming in to the league and the NBA started adapting. The younger version of Michael Jordan's started coming in and trying to dominate, but they were getting stonewalled by the dominant big men. Allen Iverson came closest to the goal, but when his team's started realizing that he wasn't as unique anymore and a team can't win anymore like Michael Jordan did, they stopped winning games. So Michael Jordan's, like Tracy McGrady and Carmelo Anthony, kept coming into the league, but failing to win championships.

It wasn't until one of these young guys who modeled their game after Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, joined up with one of the new-age dominating players, Shaq, and found the formula. It worked until they broke up and Shaq tried the formula with another Michael Jordan-type, Dwayne Wade, and it worked again. Kobe tried the Michael Jordan way for a little and it failed, not because he wasn't physically as good as MJ or because he didn't want to win, but because the league had changed and it adapted to teams with a Michael Jordan. It wasn't until he tried the new age formula again with Pau Gasol, that he won. This formula was Phase 3 of domination.

Assuming Michael Jordan's name was Jeff Smith, and then Michael Jordan's clone came into the league 10 years later modeling his game after his clone, they would have figured him out by then. He wouldn't have been unique, and everyone would have already modeled their game after Jeff Smith and tried to improve it. That's what happened in the league. Guys like Kobe, Carmelo, McGrady practiced Michael Jordan's moves every day of their lives. They watched films, tried his moves in practice and games, and then tried adding to it.

The reason everyone hates Kobe is that he mocks Michael Jordan. He does all his moves and then adds to it. Yet without Michael Jordan coming first, Kobe wouldn't be who he is today. He might have modeled his game after James Worthy and had a different career. Yet anyone born in the 80's was trying to be Michael Jordan. Even me a 5'6" white kid, was trying MJ's moves in my driveway. I'd count down, pretend I was Mike, and do a move at the buzzer.

Again, none of the best players in the league who are compared to Michael Jordan, would actually be who they are without Michael Jordan. He taught them basketball by example, so they became him and tried to improve upon him. That's how life works. When the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 came out, it wouldn't be fair to compare it to the first iPhone. The iPhone didn't have itself to model itself after. Perhaps the Galaxy is a superior product, but it wouldn't be where it was today without the iPod, and it will never reach the impact that the original iPod had on the industry. So was Michael Jordan.

So the teams that are still thinking by having a Michael Jordan, they can win, grow up. Carmelo and Kobe can't do it alone anymore. Wade struggles without Bosh. Rudy Gay still wants to be that guy, but is learning. The kids that are still modeling their game after MJ and have been modeling their game after Kobe, remember that by the time you reach the league, the game has adapted and changed. Because the NBA is in Phase 4. Unless you have 3 dominant players on your team, you don't stand a chance.