Michael Jordan says that he would not have teamed up with two other great players the way Lebron James did. He says that his competitive nature was to try and beat those guys. “Air” Jordan said that “King” James joining forces with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh would have been like him joining forces with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Is Michael Jordan that detached from reality?
Michael Jordan played his career with the likes of Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman and an array of other talented players on his rosters. His comparison is worse than Magic Johnson comparing James, Wade and Bosh to the big three of Boston and Los Angeles. Boston and Los Angeles have three big players, but not arguably the three best players in league. Ray Allen is good, but not on par with Dwayne Wade.
If you want a true analogy of great players being together in their prime, then look at 27 year old Michael Jordan winning his first championship with 25 year old Scottie Pippen in 1991. Pippen, now a first ballot Hall of Famer, averaged 17.8 points per game while shooting 52 percent from the field. This was along with his 7.3 rebounds per game and 6.2 assists.
To be fair, Jordan did not run off to sign with Scottie Pippen as they both started off with the Bulls. The same is true for Horace Grant who was on the first three Jordan championship teams. Also to Jordan’s credit, Bosh is light years ahead of where Horace Grant was at the same age.
Jordan retired after the 1993 season and came back to find Toni Kukoc in Chicago. The Bulls knack for getting good young players had apparently continued in Jordan’s absence. This did not force Jordan to go looking for other players like Lebron James did. Hence Jordan’s competitive spirit was alive and well. Still Jordan did not complain about his competitive spirit when Dennis Rodman joined the ranks of Jordan, Pippen and Kukoc.
Jordan certainly never complained when Rodman averaged 14.9, 16.1 and 15 rebounds per game during the 1996-98 Bulls championship run. Jordan must now have forgotten that he even played with the two time defensive player of the year, the seven time all defensive team player and record breaking rebounder who has grabbed more than 25 rebounds in a single game thirty-three times.
If the New York Knicks in the 1990’s had either Pippen or Rodman then who knows how different history could be. Great numbers do not equal championships after all. Just ask Lebron James who tucked his tail and headed to South Beach or Kobe Bryant who had to watch the Lakers reboot after Shaquille O’Neal left before he could continue winning championships.