2020 may not have been the best year on record, but it did provide what is perhaps the best sports documentary series ever. The Last Dance was a Netflix hit, documenting the Bulls’ journey during that final epic 97/98 season. The series brought up a lot of nostalgia for 90s NBA fans and introduced those who didn’t see Jordan play to his insane skills and extreme personality.
Why Jordan Endures
Before we go into his records, which are out-of-this-world-is-he-actually-an-alien impressive, there’s another reason why Jordan’s legacy continues to fascinate fans of all eras: his complex personality.
Let’s talk about just how hard he pushed the guys on the Bulls’ roster. It got to the point that several players pretty much hated the guy. Jordan loved winning, whether at practice or during the playoffs.
Give everything on the court, 100% each and every time. That’s his mantra. If you can’t hack it, you’re out. Come back to training camp out of shape, and you can expect Jordan to go nuts. It’s just the way he’s built; max it out every time you’re on the court, or go home.
There’s also the gambling controversy, where critics tried to pin Jordan as having a ‘gambling problem’. But as he saw it, he had a ‘competition problem’, putting money on trivial things (including the famous ‘pitching pennies’ scene!) was a way to relieve stress and take his mind off things.
During the 2001-02 season, he was often seen at the Blackjack table at Mohegan Sun casino, putting in high-stakes bets and losing insane amounts of money (that us ‘normals’ couldn’t even imagine losing), only to regain some of it during his long card matches.
Even if luck was not on his side he would never quit, but only try to come up with new solutions. This shows the amount of dedication he has for winning. Like other players who prefer to build an effective strategy before the real game, he could try websites that offer blackjack for free and for real money, before indulging in real money games. After all, as stated by casinos.co.za, the biggest advantage of free play is that it’s risk-free, making pages like this one perfect for gamblers who look to polish their skills first.
He could. However, Jordan’s readiness to draw high-stakes is what reveals his inner passion and drive. So to say, his inclination for high stakes is not the problem, it’s the passion. And it’s very much translated to his basketball.
Just like Kobe Bryant, he wanted to do everything possible to give himself an edge over his opponent. Whether he was playing for the NBA title or tossing coins against a wall, it didn’t matter. Put in blackjack terms, it’s like playing with a basic strategy guide right in your pocket, taking advantage of everything the game puts your way.
In gambling, the odds are always in favor of the house. But if you play it right, it all comes down to tiny margins; even the smallest percentage win can sway the odds. And that’s what Michael Jordan wanted to do for both himself and his teammates.
Fewest Number of Games to Record 32,000 Points
The NBA has seen some legendary scorers, but only five have managed to surpass 32,000 points in their career. The list includes ballers like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, but none of them got to the milestone as quickly as MJ.
Air Jordan got there in just 1059 games, averaging an eye-popping 30.2 points per game. Compared to his illustrious peers, that’s already a fantastic achievement. He’s already sitting pretty at the top of the mountain.
10x Scoring Champion
Jordan wasn’t just a prolific scorer on the macro scale, but he also brought it each and every season on an individual level. The proof? He won ten scoring titles in his career.
Kevin Durant has 4. King James, just 1. James Harden? 3. Kobe can boast about having 2. Put all of those Hall of Fame careers together, and you only just manage Jordan’s achievement.
Only Player Who can Boast 2 Three-Peats
The thing they often say about scorers is that they know how to pad their stats, but they can’t win NBA titles. Look at Dominique Wilkins or James Harden (so far). But there’s no way you can claim that about Jordan. He’s a pure winner.
You can only win as a team, sure. But Jordan had a huge slice to play in the Bulls’ 2 three-peats. When he retired the first time, Pippen couldn’t do it without him.
MVP, DPOY, Scoring Title in One Season
The problem with a lot of high-scoring players is that they’re a liability at the defensive end of the court. Again, this doesn’t apply to Air Jordan. In 1987-88, he arguably had the best individual NBA season in history.
Check this: Defensive Player of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and the scoring title. He averaged almost 35 points per game. He dominated at both ends, personally taking charge of a mediocre Bulls team.
Will His Records be Broken?
In short, yes. Michael Jordan’s records will be broken, eventually. It’s just the way things go. If it’s not LeBron, it’ll be KD. Then there’s Giannis. And Zion. There will be plenty of others.
But even though we’ve made a big deal about Michael’s records, they also obscure what he’s really all about. Air Jordan is pure, raw athletic skill. Basketball IQ off the charts. Historic moments, performing in the clutch, when it counts (James Harden, take note). Elevating his game once his athleticism began to go.
It’s not about the records, but those ‘I can’t believe he just did that’ moments. Combine that with a layered personality, inspiring competitiveness, mixed in with some true 90s nostalgia, and you have an icon that will persevere in the collective memory, even when the records have long gone.