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“He was so phenomenal that the NBA marketed the individual, the audience gravitated towards the individual” - Stephen A. Smith believes Michael Jordan changed the game for the worse

Michael Jordan in action for the Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan in action for the Chicago Bulls
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Karan Vinod

Former Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan has been criticized for changing the game for the worse by Stephen A. Smith.

Smith said the game has become more individualized, with fans gravitating towards the individual rather than the team because of Jordan. On ESPN's "First Take," Smith said:

"Michael Jordan is responsible, as much as anybody, for changing the game for the worse. This is throwing no shade on Michael Jordan, of course. He is the greatest ever in my estimation.
"But he was so phenomenal that the NBA marketed the individual, the audience gravitated towards the individual and the game became a bit more individualized because people wanted to be like Mike."

Smith continued:

"What I'm saying is, you were thinking team until Jordan elevated it to another level. And from Jordan then you had the Kobes, the Vince Carters and the others that came along."

Smith also said former NBA coach Mike D'Antoni changed the game for the worse by coaching teams to take only perimeter shots or layups.

.@stephenasmith says Steph Curry changed basketball for the better, while MJ changed it for the worse.“Michael Jordan is responsible, as much as anybody, for changing the game for the worse!” https://t.co/XkgDKzFp0l

Michael Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls

Jordan and the Chicago Bulls ahead of a game.
Jordan and the Chicago Bulls ahead of a game.

Michael Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls was something straight out of a movie. Jordan, along with Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Toni Kukoč, achieved a second three-peat with Phil Jackson at the helm.

In pursuit of his second three-peat, Jordan played like a man possessed. He averaged a league-leading 28.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 46.5% from the field and a career-low 78.4% from the free-throw line. Even more impressive was that Jordan played all 82 games for the third straight season and 38.8 minutes a night at age 34.

Chicago faced the New Jersey Nets (now known as the Brooklyn Nets) in the first round of the playoffs. Jordan dropped over 30 points in all three games in a sweep.

In the second round, the Bulls played the Charlotte Hornets (a franchise Jordan would later purchase). Jordan averaged 29.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 46.5%. The Bulls needed five games to get past the Hornets.

In the Eastern Conference finals, the Indiana Pacers were waiting for Chicago. Considered to be the toughest matchup of MJ's career, barring the Detroit Pistons in the late 1980s, the Pacers pushed the Bulls to seven games. Jordan averaged 31.7 ppg on 46.7% shooting, including 40.0% from 3-point range.

Against the Utah Jazz, led by Karl Malone and John Stockton, Jordan maintained his unblemished record of never going the distance in an NBA Finals series. The Bulls won in six games. Jordan averaged 33.5 ppg on 42.7% shooting. That performance led the Bulls to their sixth championship.


Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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