Michael Jordan is almost universally considered to be the best basketball player of all time. His work ethic, drive, ego, and ability all carried him to the top of the sport.
He has in many ways become the Babe Ruth of baseball in that he is almost a myth.
Michael is a legend. However, the question is: Can anyone ever surpass him?
In theory, yes, in practice, well let's think about this.
Ever since Michael retired, there have been numerous players dubbed "The Next Michael Jordan." While the list is endless, I will list some of the more popular and well known examples:
Grant Hill, Vince Carter, Penny Hardaway, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James.
Grant Hill was brilliant for his first six seasons in the league after which he was hit with injuries and has been a consistent role player ever since. So, basically, he is out of the picture.
Vince Carter never truly reached his potential and was every inconsistent season after season mostly due to injury problems. This guy is now out of the conversation.
Penny Hardaway was also a very inconsistent scorer who failed to live up to his potential as a scorer, but still proved to be a very good all around player. He was out of the conversation quickly.
Next comes Allen Iverson who is the first serious candidate, well sort of. He was a very consistent scorer in his prime and his defense was one of the best in the league for many years.
However, his ego and superstar status found a way into his head and they overshadowed what is undoubtedly a Hall of Fame career. He is very sadly out by a mile.
Kobe Bryant is widely considered to be the best player since Michael retired. He has a great mid-range game and is a winner.
However, one point that goes against him is defensive output. Now we know stats are not everything, but when looking at his numbers and MJ's, it is a bit underwhelming.
In fact the popular stat website, basketball-reference.com, has a statistic they call defensive win shares that in a sense calculates a player's defensive output.
Out of the top active players Kobe finds himself No. 11. All time, he is 73rd (Michael is 19th). Bottom line, his defense is widely overrated. Which is why he is not in the picture for replacing Jordan.
Now on to LeBron James who is the last guy I am going to bore you with. He has great statistics and a widely improving game, but he just does not seem to have the mentality Jordan had.
Jordan was a winner, and since Jordan retired, Kobe is the closest we have seen in terms or that mentality. Now, I am not in any way a Lakers fan or a Kobe fan so please don't start accusing me of either.
So without the mentality, James finds himself short.
Out of all the active players and the recent players, these are the only ones that find themselves close to Jordan. None of these players have reached the numbers Jordan has put out through his career and that should also be mentioned.
Since none of them are up to the task, we have to begin to think of when that one player comes who can surpass him.
It's hard to think that there can never be a better player than Michael Jordan. Not just in terms of skill, but also because of the one single emotion which all human beings share: stubbornness.
Even if that one player comes around one of these days, we will still jump back to the old: "There can never be another Michael Jordan."
No matter who the player is.
Well, let's throw that away and let me give you one thing that truly puts Jordan above these players.
Impact on the Game
In the entire history of basketball and perhaps any sport has there been a player who has single-handedly made the sport into what it is today. He inspired players, he drew in fans, and he helped release the NBA into the world.
No player will ever find himself again in that position and thus there is no way they could duplicate it. So please, next time some one uses the phrase: "Next MJ" and you are in the mood to argue, be educated and intelligent in your response.
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