Only avid NBA fans know something more about the history of the league and the legacy former NBA players built for today’s generation. The NBA and basketball, in general, is now a global sport and one of the most popular leagues in the world. That type of growth wouldn’t be possible without the players in the past, more specifically Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and then Michael Jordan, who took the league’s popularity to the next level.
In an interview with HoopsHype, Jordan’s former teammate on the Chicago Bulls, Jud Buechler, talked about the surprise he felt when he realized younger generations don’t know much about the players in the 90’s let alone before that. When speaking with them, he realized their basketball heroes are, for the most part, LeBron or Kobe. They don’t even mention Jordan’s name when talking about their favorite players.
You know what, that’s a great question. This younger generation – the 19-year-old, 20-year-old, 21-year-old kids – I think their heroes are usually Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. I think they really looked up to those two and can relate to those guys, right? When I’ve talked to young players and I’ve asked them, “Who do you think is the greatest basketball player of all-time?” I get one of those two – Kobe or LeBron – and Michael’s name isn’t really ever mentioned. I’m so happy that they can witness in this documentary just the total domination, physically and mentally, and what he did during his career.Jud Buechler, via HoopsHype
Buechler admired Jordan because his competitive spirit and love for basketball would never allow him to miss games unless he is seriously injured. That attribute separates him from many stars in the league today who often take short breaks even when they’re healthy. For Jordan, that was out of the question, and he expected the same type of commitment from his teammates. There were simply no days off, and if you are healthy, you will play and give your maximum. Buechler believes young players should look up to him just because of that type of desire and passion that is rarely seen in the NBA today.
I think it’s also super important for them to see that he never missed any games. A lot of guys miss games now for little injuries or whatever and sit games out, but Michael never missed a game. He had that one foot injury during his career where he missed a certain number of games, but over his career, he always played. He always got out there, regardless of what the situation was – even if we were playing against a poor team. The games meant something to him. He always tried to go out there and put on a show, and I think it’s great for these young guys to kind of see his greatness.Jud Buechler, via HoopsHype
The Last Dance documentary was the perfect opportunity for the younger fans to get acquainted with Jordan and the Bulls and how they dominated the league for years. Obviously, younger generations will look to today’s players as role models simply because they have the opportunity to see them play almost every night. However, now more than ever, it’s easier to look up games and highlights of former players and read about their achievements in the NBA.