Michael Jordan is known as the Greatest of All Time but nobody is perfect.
1. Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan were actually friends and golf buddies. Michael was not able to forgive Chuck for criticizing his management style, which only produced a few playoff berths.
The two were Eastern Conference rivals for a while as Barkley became the star of the Philadelphia 76ers upon the departure of Moses Malone and Julius Erving.
Barkley was a virtual double-double machine despite being 6'4". Charles used his girth to bully his way to points and rebounds.
Philly failed to surround Charles with talent, so he demanded a trade. He was then traded to the Phoenix Suns for a package centered around Jeff Hornacek.
With the Phoenix Suns, Charles was surrounded by talent. He had Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, Danny Ainge, Cedric Ceballos, Tom Chambers, Kurt Rambis and Richard Dumas. With all their offensive firepower, they were able to make it out of the West and had a matchup against Jordan.
Michael was able to dispatch the Suns in six games thanks in part to a 41-point average and a dagger from John Paxson.
2. Bill Laimbeer
The 1980s were basically dominated by the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. However, a new team in the East rose to power in the late '80s. It was the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons were universally hated across the league for their rough-and-tumble style of play. They were like pro wrestlers in a basketball arena. The only people who liked the Bad Boy Pistons were the people in Michigan.
Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn were basically the enforcers of the Pistons. They would hammer anyone daring to attack the rim. This would lead to many fights as many players would not tolerate the Pistons' physical abuse.
To a younger generation, Laimbeer would be remembered as the coach of the Detroit Shock and as Grant Hill's co-star in '90s Fila commercials. To an older generation, Laimbeer would be remembered as one of the dirtiest players in the game.
The Pistons were a stumbling block to the Bulls in the late '80s as they eliminated the Bulls several times in the playoffs, including during the Eastern Conference Finals in 1989.
The Bulls finally broke through in 1990 and swept the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals and marked the end of the Piston's brief reign in the East.
3. Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman was an integral part of the Bad Boys Pistons. Dennis was a versatile defender who could defend all five positions. He was also one of the best rebounders of all time.
Dennis was unleashed on the opposing team's best player and used his length and agility to keep his man in check.
During Rodman's heyday, hand checking was legal, so it was hard to get out of "The Worm's" clutches.
Rodman and the Pistons were a roadblock to the Chicago Bull's progress. They eliminated the Bulls year after year.
The Bulls broke through and swept the Pistons, but the Pistons walked off the court with time left in the game in a display of disrespect.
Ironically, Rodman would join the Bulls in 1995 and would help Jordan get his second three-peat. Initially, Jordan and Pippen were not keen on acquiring Rodman because of their past history. However, Rodman yielded good results for the team.
4. Patrick Ewing
Patrick Ewing was also another friend of Jordan outside the court, but they were rivals inside.
Jordan faced Ewing in the 1982 NCAA championship game and vanquished Ewing with a clutch midrange shot.
The Bulls and Knicks rivalry was a highlight in '90s NBA basketball. The Knicks were a tough defensive team and were hard to beat due to their depth and tough play. The two enforcers of the team were Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley.
The Bulls and Knicks met in the playoffs and Michael vanquished them every time. The only time the Knicks got through the Bulls was when Jordan had a hiatus. While Toni Kukoc was a great addition to the Bulls, he was no MJ.
Ewing was an excellent defensive player with a career average of 21 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
5. Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson was one of the greatest small players in NBA history. He was a modern take on Celtics legend Nate "Tiny" Archibald.
Iverson, despite standing at less than six feet tall, was a scoring machine who easily shredded defenses with his blazing speed and insane dribbling skills.
One of the greatest moments early in Iverson's career was doing a crossover and sinking a mid-range jumper over Michael Jordan.
Iverson became the centerpiece of the Philadelphia 76ers and they surrounded him with defensive players such as Dikembe Mutombo, Tyrone Hill, Eric Snow and Aaron McKie.
Iverson led his team to the 2001 NBA Finals where he beat the unbeaten Lakers squad led by Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers eventually won the series 4-1, but this Finals helped cement Iverson's legacy.
Iverson had a storied career which saw him average 26.7 points, 6.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game.
© 2020 Jan Michael Ong