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It’s one of the main building blocks of the Jordan myth – “he’d never join a superteam.” The narrative fits well with the story of an unbreakable competitor, someone who wanted to go up against the best competition out there and beat them. 6-0 in the Finals, flue game, playing with a broken finger – the modern-day Leonidas fighting the massive army with his 300 loyal soldiers. Only in MJ’s case, Leonidas and his 300 won.
So when LeBron and Bosh join Wade in Miami, when LeBron goes back to Cleveland to join Kyrie and brings in Kevin Love to the Cavs, when Kevin Durant joins the already unbeatable Warriors and finally Kyrie gives KD a vegan burger, they go to Brooklyn and bring James Harden, those moves are called weak – and we know who was never weak. “MJ would never do this.”
Well, a few people don’t agree. On his latest appearance on the Bill Simmons Podcast, Chuck Klosterman pointed out that the Jordan narrative actually builds a case for MJ creating a superteam, not against it.
KLOSTERMAN: In the 90s, when the Rockets put Hakeem, Drexler, and Barkley together, a belief was this never works. When the Lakers got Payton and Malone, it was like, ‘See, this never works.’ And now, it seems like it always works. One thing I see people always say when they’re bemoaning this is, ‘Jordan would’ve never done this.’Chuck Klosterman, The Bill Simmons Podcast
SIMMONS: He would’ve done it.
KLOSTERMAN: He would’ve had to, right?! Because if we believe Jordan is the most competitive person. A person that would’ve cheat a grandmother at cards – somebody who’ll do anything to win. If this is the best way to win, it seems like he would’ve done it.
First of all, MJ didn’t need a superteam because he already had one. All his titles were won with the best no.2 guy ever to play the game, Hall of Fame member Scottie Pippen. In the first three-peat, Horace Grant was nothing to sneeze at, and the heavily criticized Jerry Krause assembled a nice group of complementary players. In the second three-peat, two Hall of Famers joined MJ and Pip. Dennis Rodman and Toni Kukoč, one of the best 6th men ever to play.
So to say MJ didn’t join a superteam is correct because he was the first one there. But it was a superteam nonetheless. If you go back and watch The Last Dance, MJ puts a lot of pressure on the Bulls to bring in better players, a.k.a. get him some help. Jordan understood it was a team sport, and he couldn’t do it alone.
The foundation of the myth of MJ is one of uncontrollable competitiveness. Basketball, dominoes, golf, cards – it doesn’t matter what, as long as he breathes, Michael Jordan will want to win. He wouldn’t stop at anything, even befriending Charles Barkley to soften him up before the Finals. To think that guy wouldn’t join a superteam if he were on the, let’s say, 2020 Orlando Magic and saw the NBA landscape is ridiculous.
So make up your mind – if his greatness comes from doing whatever it takes to win, then you can’t say Michael Jordan wouldn’t ever team up with other great players. For one, because he did that with Pippen, Grant, Rodman, and Kukoč, and secondly, because the most competitive player ever would stop at nothing to win, right?
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