Everyone wants to be the greatest. Am I right? Each one of us sat for hours working towards the greatest speech in the classroom. Some work diligently to become Valedictorian or win student council seats. Basically, everyone wants, in some form or fashion, to be considered great and most people, to at least someone in their lives, become the greatest. However, the type of great that I want to discuss with you today goes beyond the opinions of the few. It goes beyond the loyalty to an individual or a team. In fact, this type of great is not merely subjective but also statistically supported and concretely claimed despite areas of controversy that have been misled by subjectivity. I am talking about pure greatest in the sport of basketball that has led to documentation of the greatest player of all time. I, of course, am here today to talk to you about Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls.

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As many people think firstly of subjectivity when discussing the term great, I cannot forego a discussion of such opinions. Even though there are loyal fans for every basketball team who willingly and admittedly claim that their team is the best, a recent survey “approximately 77 percent of respondents said Jordan was the best basketball player ever” (Michael Jordan the Greatest Athlete of All-time, Survey Says, 2015). Considering that 77 percent of all basketball fans are likely not all for the same team, then this means that despite their loyalty to other teams, avid basketball fans can easily recognize Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player of all time. Even though this is merely an opinion poll, I have already established that the general population, yourselves included, look for greatness through the opinions of others. In fact, Han and Jun (2010) point out that even those who are not avid basketball fans immediately recognize Michael Jordan as a basketball player despite the existence of many other people with this name. In this, the mere fact that the majority of respondents to the survey are of the opinion that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time, along with the connection between the name and the sport, would be enough to support my very claim.

However, as was previously stated, the type of greatness that I am discussing is not merely subjective and not only based on the personal opinions or recognition of others. For this, I turn to sports author, Bruce (2016) who explains that statistics, championships, and MVPs are used to determine the best basketball player of all time. Looking at Michael Jordan’s statistics, he “averaged 30 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 1 block per game” (Bruce, 2016). Breaking this down, Jordan was a shooting guard making his 6 rebounds per game remarkable. However, many people claim that Jordan was not a team player and this is combatted with his 5 assists. Specifically, Jordan was noted “in the 1993 Finals, with time running down Jordan passed to John Paxson, who hit the game winning 3 for the championship” (Bruce, 2016). In regards to his defense capabilities, the 2 steals and 1 block per game note his worthiness of being called great. Clearly, he was a team player with a strong versatility that was shown through these stats.

Looking at championships and MVPs, Michael Jordan has 6 NBA titles and 6 finals MVP. Bruce (2016) points out that other players may have numerous NBA titles but this does not reflect their own greatness as they were simply on a team that won. However, Jordan has the stats to go with the titles and this led him to winning the most NBA finals MVPs with 3 of these being in consecutive years. Bruce (2016) notes that Shaquille O’Neal is the only other NBA player with 3 consecutive finals MVPs. In regards to the regular season MVPs, Michael Jordan comes in with the second most at 5 being second only to Kareem Abdul Jabbar who won the honor 6 times and equal to Bill Russell with 5 regular season MVPs. Bruce (2016) explains that, given the other areas of accomplishments in statistics and championships, the regular season MVPs should add to Jordan’s greatness regardless of not being number one in this area.

Granted, even though Han and Jun (2010) pointed out that many people know Michael Jordan as a basketball player, this is not the only name on such a list. In fact, Bruce (2016) states that many people will argue that players such as Lebron James and Magic Johnson should be considered the best basketball player of all time. In fact, these individuals argue that Michael Jordan is a household name and that the popularity of him as a basketball icon is the only thing that keeps him at the top of the list. However, Bruce (2016) continues to explain that Lebron and Magic Johnson do not have the statistical longevity in their games to compare to Michael Jordan’s. In other words, other players may have had good seasons but they did not have the same statistical consistency as did Michael Jordan. Other players may have won titles and been named final and regular season MVPs, but they did not have these titles along with the statistics or they had the statistics without the titles. Bruce (2016) states that there is a larger picture than that of one area of comparison that must be taken into consideration when objectively declaring someone the greatest basketball player of all time. Michael Jordan not only has the subjective support for such a claim, but also the statistical evidence to back the opinions of basketball enthusiast who continue to refer to him as the greatest. In closing, may we all be great both subjectively and objectively in our own way. Thank you.

  • Bruce, Randal. (2016). Why Michael Jordan Is the Greatest NBA Player I’ve Ever Seen. HowTheyPlay. Hub Pages Inc.
  • Han, Xianpei, and Jun Zhao. (2010)”Structural semantic relatedness: a knowledge-based method to named entity disambiguation.” Proceedings of the 48th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics. Association for Computational Linguistics,
  • Michael Jordan the Greatest Athlete of All-time, Survey Says. (2015).Paid Online Surveys. Survey Sampling International, LLC.