There is no dispute that Michael Jordan is the most iconic basketball player of all time and, in most eyes, the greatest player of all time. Six championships in six Finals trips, 14 All-Star appearances, 5x MVP's, 10x scoring titles, and numerous more accolades and records engraved Michael's name in basketball history forever.
But of course, it is not all about numbers, stats, and records. What made MJ the greatest player of all time and quite possibly the most recognizable face in the world of the '90s was the presence, style, and uniqueness Jordan brought to the table. The demeanor, the shoes, the grace, the athleticism, the devotion, the winning mentality, and so much more all boiled down into one, building something special.
But what won Jordan the most fans was the fact he didn't ask for his respect but got it simply by default because of his greatness. Jordan knew he was the best, but he didn't have to say it, as that kind of status is something a lot of stars of today seeking validation lack (cough LeBron James).
During an interview in 2003, Jordan displayed exactly that humbleness. While talking with the legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson, Jordan got asked if he thinks he is the greatest basketball player ever. This was MJ's response.
"False. Because I didn't play against all the great players prior to me, and those were the players that influenced my game. It's a great honor, don't get me wrong, but I'd love to play against Jerry West to determine if I was a better guard than him, or Oscar Robertson, but we will never know."
Michael Jordan, NBA on TNT
This was during Jordan's final season in the NBA, as he announced his final retirement shortly after. Thompson and Jordan had great respect for each other, as Jordan even played under him in the 1984 Olympics. So in a great interview between these two basketball legends, we got some fascinating statements.
Jordan displayed some humbleness and respect for the players before him, saying he wishes he could have played Jerry West or the Big O, concluding that he can't give himself the GOAT title because he didn't prove himself against everybody. That may be a very admirable stance, but I think we all know deep down the confident and fierce competitor in Michael Jordan thinks he is the best basketball player ever to live. And that is why most of the NBA world feels the same.
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