Although it’s difficult to cross-compare NBA eras, most basketball fans still like to play the “what-if” game when talking about the game’s all-time greats. Obviously, this includes the man who most consider to be the greatest player to ever touch a basketball, Bulls shooting guard and six-time NBA champion, Michael Jordan.
Some argue that in today’s era, Jordan and his Bulls wouldn’t match up with current NBA teams like the Golden State Warriors.
His ex-teammates do not share a similar sentiment.
In an interview with Bleacher Report, ex-Jordan teammate and former Bull’s backup big man Will Perdue said that even in today’s three-point oriented, pace and space league, Jordan would still find a way to beat his opponents like he did in the 90’s.
“He would somehow find a way to beat you — somehow,” said Perdue. “I’m not sure how. He’s not sure how, but he would stay up weeks to figure it out. … You see LeBron say: ‘I’m playing hard, I averaged a triple-double, I’ll sleep well tonight.’ I don’t think you would ever hear those words come out of MJ’s mouth. Even if he had 60, (if) he lost and thought somebody had got the best of him, he would be pissed.”
“ … There are people that want to win and people that have to win. Michael had to win.”
Perhaps Jordan’s biggest weakness was his three point shot, which would prove to be crucial in today’s NBA. However, his physicality coupled with softer NBA rules, Jordan would seemingly have no problem getting into the lane and soaring over any of his opponents with ease.
According to Bulls’ assistant coach Randy Brown, another of MJ’s former teammates, Jordan would be an even better defender today than he was in his own era. Keep in mind, Jordan was a nine-time All-Defensive first-teamer and was voted Defensive Player of the Year in 1988. Brown thinks because the league has gotten smaller, Jordan could conceivably guard positions 1-4.
One of his ex-teammates at UNC, Matt Doherty, somewhat echoed Brown’s take, but went as far to say Jordan would be a better overall player today than he was back then.
“He’s got an elite competitive spirit and also has an elite IQ,” Doherty said. “Along with his talent, I think he would have been a better pro now than he was back then.”
Again, it’s pretty tough to compare great players amongst different eras. But in Jordan’s case, it’s pretty safe to say his skill set could translate to any time period in basketball. His old teammates sure tend to think so.