Former NBA player Craig Hodges might be somewhat unknown among the young generation of hoopers, but he had a solid NBA career and is still to this day considered one of the best 3-point shooting specialists. After looming around the league for a few years, Hodges joined the Chicago Bulls in 1988, right before the team improved, and Hodges was a part of the master plan that would follow in the upcoming years.
At that time, Michael Jordan established himself as the best individual player in the NBA but missed a championship just like Hodges. He was already a superstar in the NBA, and Hodges had the opportunity to see firsthand what made Jordan such a dominant player so early in his career. It wasn’t just the fact he was a standout basketball player; he had this aura about him that made people feel like he is some type of godly character.
I already saw the magnetism of who MJ is with the charisma and the endorsements. He had his entourage of security and agents. When all of that is taken away, and we are practicing, you could see who he was—for me, having been in the league six years in that point in time, having played Sydne Moncrief, Bill Walton, Terry Cummings. I played with superstars, HOF players and to see my brother up close and personal on a daily basis. Practicing against him, I knew what he was and who he was as far as him being the greatest player to play the game. What I saw in practice was the same stuff I saw when I faced him in the game, so I knew what he was all about.Craig Hodges, via VladTV
Hodges himself was a resilient player, and the mindset Jordan had was entirely understandable for him because it’s a key ingredient if you want to win, and they both wanted to win. Other teammates often said it was hard to have Jordan on the team because of the pressure he would impose. The fear factor was real, but for Hodges. it was an opportunity to test himself, and having Jordan on the team helped his game as well.
It was fun, and I wasn’t afraid of it by no chance, and it’s one of those things where the level of competition you raise too, or you don’t. On a daily basis, he’s going to bring what he is going to bring. You will rise to the level, or you are going to get bullied. It’s going to be how you take it.Craig Hodges, via VladTV
Hodges would eventually retire from the NBA at 32 after winning his second championship with the Bulls. There was even some conspiracy surrounding the political activism that got him out of the league, but he ultimately achieved his goal, winning an NBA championship. Playing with Jordan also made him understand what type of an iconic figure Jordan really is and that there is no fakeness behind his appearance. It’s all hard work and a lot of talent that translated into a historic success.