"Holy s*** they almost killed Michael back then" - Charles Barkley on Michael Jordan receiving rough treatment by rivals during his day, says "you breathe on guys today" and it’s a foul

Michael Jordan a recipient of the "Jordan Rules" tactic
Michael Jordan a recipient of the "Jordan Rules" tactic

Michael Jordan played in a different era than the one that exists in the NBA today. Back then, physicality was the norm, and Jordan received his fair share of force – because he was that good. The way Jordan played, fouling him was sometimes the only option to slow him down.

On a special episode of “The Sessions with Renee Paquette,” Hall of Famer Charles Barkley touched upon Jordan’s greatness, and the comparisons he draws to LeBron James.

When Paquette asked Barkley about the Jordan-James debate, he quickly responded:

“I just think it’s a lazy debate. You know, last year when that "Last Dance" thing came out, I said to myself – ‘Holy s***, they almost killed Michael back then.’ And to see the way the game is played today – well, a kiss on the cheek is a foul. It’s like night and day what I’m dealing with.”

The biggest hurdle of Jordan’s career was overcoming the Detroit Pistons, to make the NBA Finals for the first time in the 1990-91 season. The Pistons back then were led by Isiah Thomas, and their unit came to be known as “Bad Boys” – as an indication of their physicality.

In the 1989 Eastern Conference finals, the Pistons stood between Jordan and a chance at the NBA title, yet again. During that series, the Pistons’ gameplan was to suffocate Jordan whenever he received the ball, by double- and triple-teaming the guard. They even coined a term for this strategy, calling it “Jordan Rules.”

Barkley recalled what Michael Jordan had to overcome:

“Did you all just see this dude [Jordan] almost get killed while playing the Pistons? I mean, it took him four years to get past the Pistons. They beat the hell out of him three years before he finally got over the hump. Like I said, LeBron is amazing [but] – I mean, you breathe on guys hard today, and they’re like ‘That’s a foul’ – that’s just the way it is.”

Michael Jordan helped the Chicago Bulls get better

It is a well known and well documented fact that Michael Jordan had high expectations of himself. That’s exactly what helped him attain the greatness he achieved. Another aspect that “The Last Dance” highlighted was how Jordan pushed his teammates to get better.

The Chicago Bulls had no championships before the arrival of Jordan. It took him a few years to make it to the final stage, but he did not go looking for high-caliber guys that he could team up with – much like it is in the league today.

Barkley reflected on this aspect of Jordan’s career, saying:

“A lot of these guys today, they don’t want to compete. They all get together and that’s annoying, 'cause I’m wondering – ‘Get off my porch guys, I hate to see all these guys play together; instead of fighting through like a Dirk Nowitzki did.’”

The way the game is today, with seven more teams than existed in Jordan's rookie season of 1984-85, it is difficult to imagine a player going through the process of growing within a franchise. With the advent of role players and superstars coming together to construct an unbeatable roster, it only gives franchises an option to adapt or stay behind in the race.

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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