DAR Sports: The Accolades Of Michael Jordan

By @TrueGodImmortal

Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player in earth. In the history of the NBA. Now, if you aren't a fan of his personal choices or even his lack of social activism (which is fine), that's certainly acceptable, but keep in mind, we only know Jordan for one thing, and that's basketball. At the game of basketball, there was no one better at the game, and while we sit and try to compare players of this era to Jordan, there is nothing to compare. Jordan is head and shoulders above them all honestly. There is an argument to be made for Kareem Abdul Jabbar, but as a player who was well over 7 foot, playing on the Los Angeles Lakers during the stacked Showtime era, it is hard to rank Kareem over Jordan. Sure, Kareem has the record for most points ever, as well as leading the league in blocks and 6 MVP awards, but those are stats amassed over a 20 year career compared to a 12 year run in Chicago for Jordan where he amassed 5 MVP awards (should have been 7), 6 Titles and Finals MVPs, and 10 scoring titles, including 7 in a row. Today, we take a moment to look back at the success and the accolades of Jordan to put those talks and debates to rest... or at least attempt to. Let's take a look at Jordan and his accolades. There are so many to cover, so we'll cover the most important. 

*Playing Point Guard
-Remember that one of the arguments for LeBron being better than Jordan is that he could do more on the court? Well, a smaller sample size was given to the world once we got a glimpse of Jordan running the point, and with that, Jordan would show exactly what he can do, by posting gaudy numbers and leading the Bulls to victories. This is an accolade to me because truth be told, the biggest discussion against Jordan was that perhaps he wasn't as well rounded as say Magic, LeBron, or some other players. For one, Jordan in his prime was an excellent defender, one of the greatest ever, and that separates him from the pack out the gate, but the fact that Jordan playing point guard led him to a promised land of stats (and more importantly victories) showcases that he could do everything on the court at all times. He would put up 7 straight triple doubles during the 1988-1989 season, earning praise for the Bulls putting the ball in his hands more, which is essentially what they needed to do from the start.

During his time playing point guard (24 games), Jordan would average 30.4 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 10.7 APG to go along with 2.4 SPG, which is insane. As much as we marvel at what Russell Westbrook and LeBron James can do in this era of inflated stats, to pull this off in the handcheck era was amazing.
He would finish the entire season with 32.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 8.0 APG, and 2.9 SPG on 54% shooting from the field (tied for his highest percentage). Those are unreal numbers in any era. If anyone tells you that Jordan that couldn't rebound and pass quite like another player they want to put over him, direct them to this season, and watch them shut up. This is one of his greatest feats IMO.

*5 MVP Awards -Jordan should be a 7 time MVP. I don't mean that in the sense like some fans think LeBron should be the MVP, I mean that Jordan should have actually won MVP and there are some years to support that, namely 1989, 1993, and even 1997. I'll allow 1993 to pass because of the Suns and Barkley having the best record and Jordan falling short of the best record in the East for the first time in two years, but I think he deserved the MVP award in either 1989 or 1990 and 1997 for sure. Regardless, Jordan got his MVP wins off to an amazing start with the 1987-1988 MVP discussed, which might be the greatest individual season of all time. He would win a scoring title, DPOY, be named an All Star, of course he made the All-NBA and All-Defense as well. It was the way Jordan did it that makes this season so special, and the same could be said for his second MVP from the 1990-1991 season. He won a scoring title, shot his best shooting percentage from the field, won his first NBA Title and Finals MVP, and of course, he would be named to the All-NBA and All-Defense teams yet again. Continuing his greatness, Jordan would win back to back MVPs with another award in the 1991-1992 season, as he led the Bulls to a 67-15 record, another NBA championship, won yet another scoring title, and of course all of the other accolades followed. It was his third MVP in five seasons, with the other two given to Magic Johnson (and one could argue one of those belonged to Jordan rightfully). We were firmly in the Jordan era and he was collecting trophies at a fast rate. He finished the season with amazing numbers as always, putting up 30.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 6.1 APG, and 2.3 SPG, on 52% from the field. Jordan was owning the era like he wanted and as a result, those three MVPs came with no problem.

His final two MVPs were more team based IMO, but Jordan was far and away the best player on the team trading in gaudy stats for a smarter game and more precision on the court, something very few players have mastered as they continue to get older. We witnessed his greatness return after the two year retirement, and then he would embark on one of the greatest team journeys ever with perhaps the greatest threat in NBA history. During that time, he would win two MVPs (he should have won all three), and the first one was a no brainer. With the Bulls in rare form, they would win a record 72 games, going 72-10 on the regular season and winning another scoring title, while still playing elite defense, making the All-NBA team and putting up excellent numbers with 30.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 4.3 APG on 50% from the field. His final MVP came in his last official season in Chicago and you could see the toll all of those years began to take on Jordan. Now, he was still elite defensively, and offensively, but his numbers were less gaudy, which was once again, a product of having the team structured differently. Jordan however was still the focal point, carrying the load as always, leading the Bulls to yet another 60 win season and winning another scoring title. His fifth MVP might have been his most impressive in terms of age, ability to control the game, and how he managed to still play great on both ends of the floor. When all was said and done, Jordan was a 5 time MVP, putting his name in the lights next to Kareem as the regular season GOAT.

*6 Championships & 6 Finals MVPs
-Everyone believes that Jordan was the greatest because of rings. That helps his case and puts him ahead of many people, but as you see, there are other reasons why he is the greatest. However, the most notable accomplishment is winning and no one really won titles like Jordan. He was the best player on the floor at all times (something we couldn't say for LeBron in 2011, something we couldn't say for Magic or Kareem during various Lakers runs), and was the reason his team won the NBA Finals 6 times in 6 tries. The first title was a victory over the dominant team out West in the Showtime Lakers, who were on their way out in the era. Jordan posted record assist numbers in the Finals against the greatest point guard of all time Magic Johnson and led the team to a 5 game win for his first title. Jordan easily won Finals MVP with huge numbers of 31.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 11.4 APG, 2.8 SPG, and 1.4 BPG on 56% from the field and 50% from three. Those are unreal numbers. Jordan would continue that legendary momentum in 1992, this time leading the Bulls to a 6 game victory over the mighty Trailblazers, winning Finals MVP behind his amazing numbers of 35.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 6.5 APG on a solid 53% from the field. Back to back titles and back to back Finals MVPs signals a level of greatness that is hard to beat. How could one improve on their legacy after that?

Well, you win another title and Finals MVP... this time against the no. 1 team in the league and a team of "destiny", the Phoenix Suns. The 62-20 Suns were the best team all year essentially, but they were no match for the Bulls. Jordan led his team once again with the greatest Finals performance as they defeated the Suns in 6 games without homecourt advantage. Jordan would finish the series with an astounding 41.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 6.3 APG, and 1.7 SPG on 51% from the field and 40% from three. This was my all time favorite performance from Jordan in the playoffs and Finals and I don't think there is a modern performance in the NBA Finals that could rival this. His fourth title would come after an epic 72-10 season, and this would be his toughest win and toughest Finals MVP. The Sonics were an excellent defensive team and offensive team during this season and they presented a very tough challenge for the Bulls. So, how did the Bulls respond? By winning in 6 games. Jordan earned every single point here, as the defense of the Sonics made this a battle of top defenses in the league, and though Jordan's numbers weren't extremely impressive, he was the best player in this series. He would finish with 27.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.2 APG, and 1.7 SPG on 42% FG, which is well below what he was putting up before, but it resulted in a victory and that's all you can ask for. The 1997 Finals against the Utah Jazz would be intriguing and in many ways, Jordan would make up for the performance in the previous Finals by giving us a game winner in the first game of the series and of course, the infamous Flu Game. Jordan would finish this 6 game series and win with great numbers, as he went for 32.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 6.0 APG, and shot 46% from the field. Jordan proved that he was able to get it done and battle against two Hall of Famers and an excellent Utah team. He would get the chance to do so one last time in 1998, for his final title and Finals MVP, as he and the Bulls would defeat the Jazz in 6 games once again. An injury stricken Scottie Pippen made it so that Jordan would have a heavier load to carry. Pippen didn't miss a game, but he was far from his usual self and Jordan made sure to step up, especially in game 6, as he was pivotal in the Bulls closing out the series and of course, there is The Shot we all know very well. Jordan won his 6th and last Finals MVP on 33.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 2.3 APG, which aren't gaudy numbers in terms of dishes and boards, but it was what the series needed from him and Jordan executed. His 6 titles and Finals MVPs are impossible to argue against, and in his prime, Jordan was something beyond special.

*9 Times All-Defense
-The truth about Jordan is, he is known more for his offense than anything, but he was the essential complete player. As a two-way player, Jordan controlled the game at every turn and his defense was one of the strongest talents and skill he displayed. He was able to read the offense before it was executed, help suffocate the opposing team, and of course, watch the ball close enough to pull off steals and blocks. Jordan was at the top of his game defensively from 1987-1996, and while his defense wasn't at the prime pinnacle the last two seasons in Chicago, he was still a top defender and easily deserving of the All-Defense honors he would be given. Simply put, Jordan was a defensive beast, and his defense led him to 9 years of being All-Defense, which was an amazing feat. It's actually a surprise he didn't make at least an All-Defense second or third team during his Wizards days, because he was still great on defense, even at age 40. If that doesn't explain why he's the greatest, then maybe this last accolade that we'll discuss will clarify it.

*10 Scoring Titles
-This final accolade is interesting to me. How many players can say they have won multiple scoring titles? Not too many. Jordan won 10. 10. To put it in perspective, names like Allen Iverson and Kevin Durant have 4. Russell Westbrook and Kobe Bryant have two each. Steph Curry, James Harden, Shaquille O'Neal, LeBron James, and more only have one scoring title. A number of players don't have one. Jordan has 10. With averages of 37.1 PPG, 35.0 PPG, 32.5 PPG, 33.6 PPG, 31.5 PPG, 30.1 PPG, 32.6 PPG, 30.4 PPG, 29.6 PPG, and 28.4 PPG, Jordan was outstanding as a scorer and he is easily the greatest scorer of all time. He was versatile as a scorer but he lived in the midrange and could be amazing in the post as well, which is where he crushed so many teams. 10 scoring titles, with 7 in succession and another 3 in succession after he came back from retirement is unreal. A champion. A MVP. A Finals MVP. Undefeated in the Finals. An elite point guard when he was asked to play the position. A 10 time scoring champion. Possibly the greatest two way player ever. Simply put, Jordan was everything you want in a player and then some. His accolades speak for themselves and he is the greatest to ever do it. It is simple as that.



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