There is no denying that Michael Jordan was playing in a whole different league during the peak of his career at the Chicago Bulls. He was, if not the biggest, a major factor in his team’s winning streak, constantly stealing the show. The rest of the NBA simply couldn’t stop him, and even by today’s standards, the Jordan-era Bulls are simply unmatched when it comes to their game statistics.
However, the NBA has changed over the years and more money is being poured into the Sport than ever. The greatest athletes are coming from all over the world and earning record breaking contracts and sponsorships. Not only that, but coaches are using cutting edge sports science to get the most out of their team.
More recent Basketball ‘legends’, such as Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Stephen Curry are no doubt incredible players. But since they’re playing in a different era of Basketball, it’s difficult to make a direct comparison with Michael Jordan. Jordan’s record is undoubtedly king, but that isn’t adjusted for the overall difficulty of the playing field, which is arguably more competitive than ever right now.
From a athletic point of view, Jordan would still be considered an absolute monster by today’s standards. Physically, his closest comparison of today’s legends is probably Lebron James, with only 5cm of height separating the two. Michael Jordan had bigger hands than Lebron – they were massive even for his height, giving him superior ball handling potential.
Another undeniable asset of Jordan was his jump. His nickname ‘Air Jordan’ or ‘His Airness’ didn’t come about for no reason. In his time, there weren’t many players pulling off spectacular dunks left, right and center. You could really say he was the maestro that made the dunk a statement of style.
Today , a lot of players are really trying to recreate Jordan’s spectacular dunks – and even take it further. The recent dunk contests are crazier than ever, featuring the likes of Dwight Howard jumping over cars in a superhero cape. Vertical Jump Programs like Vert Shock are helping players reach new heights by using more and more sophisticated training methods. While Michael Jordan’s official vertical leap is not known (today players are tested for leap during the Draft Combine), many sources put it at around 48 inches. That is outstanding even by today’s standards, and for comparison Lebron James jumps around 40 inches off the ground.
Less direct comparisons can be drawn with players like Kobe Bryant and the up and coming Stephen Curry. Both these players are physically no match Michael Jordan, but they brought different things to the game. Stephen Curry is a very different style of scorer, notable for his 3-point shooting ability.
Wrapping up, there’s a very, very good argument for Michael Jordan still being the best the NBA has ever seen. He definitely appears to be the outright winner for the most athletically gifted player of all time.