Michael Jordan’s greatness came into conversation yet again after Dwyane Wade made comments regarding his relevancy.
“They’re gonna forget about Jordan like we forget about Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar).”
Will people forget about Michael Jordan?
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played 20 seasons and was a record six-time MVP, 19-time All-Star, and 11-time All-Defensive team member. Abdul-Jabbar was a member of six championship teams as a player and two more as an assistant coach. He was twice an NBA Finals MVP and was named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary team
There are players and coaches who argue Abdul-Jabbar, who starred for the Milwaukee Bucks and LA Lakers, is the greatest basketball player of all time.
With all those accomplishments, it makes it hard to understand how a player can be forgotten.
Wade's comments have, of course, gained many responses, including one from Chris Broussard on “The Odd Couple.”
In reacting to Wade's comments, Broussard said:
“I don't think we'll forget about Jordan because of we have more video of him. Like Kareem, we don't have as much video of Kareem. You can watch Jordan on YouTube. You can watch the highlights, you can watch his games, and so it's much easier to remember the greatness of Michael Jordan.”
Broussard has a good argument in pointing out a fact of the viewership of both legends. There is insurmountable Michael Jordan footage in comparison to Abdul-Jabbar tape. The way he structured his explanation avoided hierarchy and placing either great above the other.
Broussard said he meant no disrespect to Abdul-Jabbar:
“And with all due respect to Kareem, and how great he was, Jordan's game was just so fantastic in terms of the way it looked. How pretty it was, how graceful it was. He did things literally that we had not seen before. So, I think all of those things work towards in favor of Jordan, and that’s why he won't be forgotten.”
Jordan was not only a legend on the court, but off the court as well. He had a huge influence in popularizing the NBA around the world through the 1980s and ’90s, becoming a global icon and the face of the league.
MJ joined the NBA in 1984, picked third overall by the Chicago Bulls. He earned his nickname “Air Jordan,” for flying high for showtime dunks. Jordan played 15 seasons, winning six championships with the Chicago Bulls. He won three NBA crowns from 1991 to 1993. He then retired to play minor league baseball before returning in 1995 and leading Chicago to another three-peat (1996-98).
Jordan retired in 1999 but then returned for two more seasons from 2001-03 for the Washington Wizards.
Broussard touched on other realms of greatness in an attempt to help explain what Wade was trying to say:
“I don't think Wade certainly wasn't saying we're not gonna remember a Michael Jordan. But I think he's saying his aura is not going to be as big as it is. I think Michael Jordan will be like a Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth is still huge, whenever you talk about the G.O.A.T in baseball, you got to talk about Babe Ruth, and he hasn't played since 1935. About the stuff that he did and whatnot, we still talk about it.”
There is certainly weight to this argument as people still talk about Jordan’s greatness. MJ has not played in the NBA for close to two decades now, and there are still immediate oppositions to any claim of a player from today being “the greatest.” Jordan has managed to weave himself permanently into the conversation of the best to play the game.
Jordan accomplished six NBA Finals MVPs, 10 scoring titles, five MVP awards, nine All-Defensive team selections, 14 All-Star selections and the 1988 Defensive Player of the Year award. He holds records for regular-season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and career playoff scoring average (33.45 ppg).
Interestingly enough for Broussard's argument, MJ was named second to Babe Ruth in The Associated Press’ list of athletes of the century.
Babe Ruth, known as “The Bambino” or “The Sultan of Swat,” began as a left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. His legendary status did not come until he became the slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees.
Playing 15 years for the Yankees, Ruth won seven American League pennants and four World Series. In 1927, Babe hit 60 home runs, extending his single-season record by one.
Ruth was the icon for changing baseball from a low-scoring, relatively slow affair into a home run-focused success. His “don’t care” attitude and ability to smash the ball over the stands increased his status for popularity and success, making him the legend he is today.
Jordan remains the same type of legend, transcending time with his name staying atop the ladder of greatness. Abdul-Jabbar is equally iconic. Ruth, from his statistics and on-field plays, became prominent as the face of the sport. Jordan paved the same path, as “Air Jordan” and shall always be in the “greatest ever” argument.
There may not be as many people talking about Abdul-Jabbar, due to the lack of available video to see his highlights. But his name is still relevant. When people talk about Steph Curry or LeBron James or someone anyone could argue to be “the greatest of this generation,” Jordan is immediately mentioned.
With the mention of Jordan, then comes the extended mention of “what about Abdul-Jabbar?” and as such, both players will forever be relevant insofar as the conversation for who is the greatest to ever to play basketball.