The 2020/21 edition of the NBA is about to come to a close. The playoffs are at an advanced stage and we will shortly have our two Conference winners. Moving forward, our 2021 champion will be crowned on July 22nd.
11 teams remain in contention at the time of writing so there’s everything to play for at this point in the campaign.
Ahead of the Pack
The Brooklyn Nets and the Utah Jazz are the favorites in the NBA finalsbetting odds. At this stage, both of those franchises are looking at winning their respective Eastern and Western Conference trophies and that would see the Nets and the Jazz advance to the finals series.
Other teams standing in their way include the LA Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers.
There’s been no mention of the Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan’s former franchise were eliminated before the playoffs began and the Bulls have struggled to replicate the golden years when their shooting guard was driving them to success.
Best of the Bunch
Winning the NBA Championship with your team is a great achievement but to claim no fewer than six MVP awards in the process is nothing short of incredible. There are few superlatives that can adequately sum up that kind of record, but it suggests that Michael Jordan was the greatest player ever to grace the National Basketball Association.
Michael Jordan first arrived at Chicago Bulls in 1984 but that period of dominance came through the 1990s. The first of those MVP awards landed when the Bulls claimed the title in 1991 and success was replicated, both by the player and the team, in 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998.
Jordan in Numbers
As we’ve seen, Michael Jordan was crowned as the Most Valuable Player in each of the Bulls’ six NBA wins in the 1990s and his numbers in those series were quite phenomenal. In 1991 against the Lakers, he went head-to-head against Magic Johnson and dominated as Chicago returned an emphatic 4-1 victory.
Across those five games, Jordan averaged at higher than 10 assists and 30 points. He peaked early in game one with 36 points, 12 assists plus eight rebounds and three steals.
In 1992 Chicago were set to defend their title against Portland and they would eventually ease through by four games to two. The comfortable margin was set up, once again, by Michael Jordan who opened up by scoring 34 points in just 39 minutes of game one. 39 more points followed in game two and, while the numbers dipped from that point, the 1992 title was no longer in doubt.
Standing in the way of a three-peat for the Bulls in 1993 were the Phoenix Suns but it was never really a contest as Chicago ran out winners with another 4-2 scoreline. MJ was at the heart of that success yet again and his average of 41 points across the six games remains a record for the finals series.
It’s really no coincidence that the Bulls brief barren period coincided with Michael Jordan taking an unscheduled break from the game. In an attempt to break into baseball, Jordan announced his first retirement from basketball in 1993 and subsequently went on a two-year hiatus.
He returned a respectable record in minor league baseball but, by 1995 he was back. Chicago had struggled in his absence but the whole roster responded and were back in the finals in 1996. Against Seattle, The Bulls won 4-2 and Jordan’s high point came in game three when he returned 36 points.
A year later, another 4-2 scoreline saw Chicago ease past Utah Jazz and Michael Jordan only failed to reach 30 points in one of those six games. The record was rounded off in 1998: Once again, Utah were the victims of another 4-2 demolition and Jordan rounded off an impressive series with an incredible 45 points in the final match.
So, the obvious answer to the question why was Michael Jordan a six-time MVP lies in those stats. Few players could have hoped to challenge those numbers but just how did he maintain those stellar performances for so long?
Michael Jordan had all the qualities needed for an athlete to succeed. He was blessed with natural talent but he backed that up with dedication, hard work off the court and a single minded nature when it came to success.
Many believe that he’s the greatest of all time because he’s as close to a ‘one man team’ as any player has ever achieved. If he was dropped into any team that made the playoffs during the 1990s, there’s every chance that Michael Jordan would still be on the winning side.
Some would argue that the present day NBA is more competitive than in Jordan’s era with no single team dominating in the way that the Bulls had previously done. In the present day, LeBron James is the closest in quality. Like Jordan, he’s also won the MVP award in all of his finals.
However, at the age of 36 and with four finals wins to date, James has some way to go to match the stunning record of the man who many believe was the most complete basketball player ever.