If you asked Michael Jordan, who was one of his fiercest and toughest competitors back in the day, there is a high probability Joe Dumars name would be mentioned. Dumars is criminally underrated among the NBA fans today. Still, if you had the opportunity to watch him play, you would know he was an integral part of that Detroit Pistons squad in the ’80s and early ’90s that gave Jordan and the Chicago Bulls a lot of problems on their way to their first championship back in 1991.
Ever since he came to the NBA in 1985, Joe Dumars established himself as a great two-way player, capable of covering the best guards on the opposing teams while scoring 20 points against any team in the league. During the infamous battles with the Bulls and Jordan, Dumars was predominantly in charge of guarding Jordan, even though the entire Pistons defense was oriented to help at any given moment. During all those years, Dumars got an excellent understanding of what made Jordan special as a player.
In an interview for Fox Sports Radio, he talked about what made Jordan different than other great players in the NBA at that time. Dumars admired him because he had the total package.
It’s his incredible focus and competitive spirit he brought to the court every night. He was super competitive as anyone. But add incredible physical gifts with that type of intensity, focus, and competitive nature. You add those things together, what he was doing physically, just so gifted and special on the court. He had that drive to go along with it. That is what separated him.Joe Dumars, via Fox Sports Radio
Dumars made a great assessment that multiple players are talented but don’t have the drive to be better. On the other hand, some players are passionate but don’t have the talent to match their drive. Jordan had it all, and even when he accomplished everything from both individual and team perspectives, he desired to improve and work on his game.
Some guys were competitive but didn’t have his gifts. Some guys were gifted but didn’t have his competitiveness. He had it all. There were no holes you could attack with him off and on the court. He was a handful all those nights.Joe Dumars, via Fox Sports Radio