5 Michael Jordan Milestones
1. Rookie of the Year (1985)
The annual NBA Draft is basically a crapshoot. You never know what you will get. That prized number-one pick might end up a bust like an Anthony Bennett, Kwame Brown, or Michael Olowokandi. That second-rounder might end up a Monta Ellis, Draymond Green, or Manu Ginobili. You never just know.
There are some rookies that are good out of the gate, such as Magic Johnson, LeBron James or Allen Iverson. There are those that take a little time to develop such, as Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant or Tracy McGrady. Michael Jordan was good right out of the gate. He played and started all 82 games en route to averages of 28.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, and 2.4 SPG. He had some formidable competition in fellow rookies Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley but still managed to outshine them.
Michael Jordan brought a new life and a new hope to the city of Chicago which has had to suffer three futile seasons with losing records. The last time Chicago had won a playoff game was way back in 1981 when they trounced the New York Knicks. This was when they still had All-Stars Artis Gilmore and Reggie Theus.
The Jordan era had begun.
2. Defensive Player of the Year (1988)
As marvelous as Michael Jordan is an offensive player, he never gets enough credit on what he can do the other end. In fact, people thought Michael Jordan was incapable of playing defense.
Michael proved doubters wrong by copping the 1988 Defensive Player of the Year award with averages of 5.5 RPG, 3.2 SPG, and 1.6 BPG. Michael used his leaping ability to block shots and crash the boards and his instincts and cat-like quickness to pounce on the opposition for quick steals. He also utilized his 6.9-foot wingspan to intercept passing lanes, disrupt plays and to stifle the opposing player's offensive capabilities.
Michael also took the challenge to guard the best players of the opposing team. Instead of skirting and avoiding them, Michael took up the challenge and took them on man to man. This was a time when zone defenses were illegal and everyone was expected to cover their counterpart in the opposing team. Man-to-man defense was prevalent during that time and you had to develop adequate defensive skills so as not to be a liability to your team.
With most of the offensive load of the team resting on Michael's shoulders, the fact that he won the Defensive Player of the Year award itself is an amazing accomplishment.
3. 6 NBA Championships
Not many players have 6 championships in the modern era. Sure, you can point out to Robert Horry who has 7 but these were done largely on the backs of superstars such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Shaquille O' Neil, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. Sure Robert did his fair share of draining clutch shots but he was more of a role player than a leading star.
Among the stars in the modern era, we only have three who have 6 championships: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That is a very short list indeed. The teams that Jordan faced to get to those six championship rings were also tough. We had the Magic Johnson Showtime Los Angeles Lakers, the Clyde Drexler Portland Trailblazers, the Charles Barkley Phoenix Suns, the Gary Payton / Shawn Kemp Seattle Supersonics and the Karl Malone / John Stockton Utah Jazz.
The Bulls not only had to deal with the best in the west but also with the beasts in the east like the Dominque Wilkins Atlanta Hawks, Reggie Miller Indiana Pacers, the Isiah Thomas Detroit Pistons, the Shaq and Penny Orlando Magic, the Tim Hardaway / Alonzo Mourning Miami Heat and the Patrick Ewing New York Knicks.
To cap off the 6 NBA Championships are 6 Finals MVP awards for Michael Jordan. While 6 does not sound like a large number, nobody even comes close to ever getting 6 Finals MVP awards. The closest to this would be 3 Finals MVP awards won by Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille O' Neil. Nobody comes even close since the award was instituted in 1969.
4. 5 Regular Season MVPs
It is arguable that Michael might have gotten more MVPs if not for voter fatigue. The MVPs won by Charles Barkley and Karl Malone might have gone to Michael had the voters not have gotten tired of voting for Michael all the time. Michael was a shoo-in to be at least an MVP contender during his heyday as he was the Bulls' leader in both ends of the court.
While Michael was known for being a ferocious dunker and 30-point-per-game scorer, Michael was an all-around player who also contributed half a dozen rebounds and half a dozen assists per contest. He also stole the ball 2–3 times a night. He was both the offensive and defensive anchor.
Michael galvanized his teammates and elevated them to greater heights. While in no way were the Bulls stacked like Magic Johnson's Lakers, Larry Bird's Celtics or Steph Curry's Golden State Warriors, Michael was still able to bring his Bulls to the promised land.
Michael was initially criticized as a ballhog. He did not trust his teammates. When Phil Jackson took over the Bulls' coaching job, he taught Michael to trust his teammates. This resulted in John Paxson becoming the hero in the 1993 Bulls-Suns NBA Finals and in Steve Kerr being the hero for the 1997 Bulls-Jazz Finals. The old Michael Jordan would have never trusted his teammates in such crucial situations.
Michael also led the Bulls to numerous winning seasons and even led the NBA standings multiple times.
A testament to Michael's importance was the Bulls collapsing in the second round of the playoffs during his first retirement. For the defending champion to not even rich the Finals let alone the Conference Finals was a huge step back.
Scottie Pippen tried to fill in Michael's shoes but he simply could not. He ended up arguing with Phil Jackson over coaching decisions and pouting when things did not go his way.
There was simply no substitute for Michael Jordan.
5. Back-to-Back Slam Dunk Contest Championships
Back in the day, the Slam Dunk Championship was one of the NBA's premier events. The best dunkers in the game would compete for supremacy. Nowadays the event is just comprised of mostly no-names and ham and eggers.
Imagine dunk contests with legendary dunkers such as Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Julius Erving, Clyde Drexler, Darrell Griffith, Larry Nance, Spud Webb, and Kenny Walker.
Nowadays we get some relative unknowns joining the frays such as Jamario Moon, Will Barton, Derrick Jones Jr., and Derrick Williams.
Back when the contest only contained the cream of the crop, Michael Jordan won the Slam Dunk Contest in consecutive years (1987–1988). He bested the likes of Dominique Wilkins and Clyde Drexler.
There have only been a few back-to-back winners of the contest aside from Jordan - Zach LaVine, Nate Robinson and Jason Richardson. There have also been only a few multiple time winners aside from Jordan—Nate Robinson (3), Zach LaVine (2), Jason Richardson (2) and Harold Miner (2).
While Michael Jordan may not have originated the free throw line dunk, Michael Jordan flawlessly executed it and won the 1988 contest.
Michael Jordan Milestones
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© 2018 Jan Michael Ong