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B.J. Armstrong explains why we actually “didn’t see the best of Michael Jordan"

Given what we know about the importance of sleep, this story about MJ is even crazier.
Chicago Bulls guards Michael Jordan and B.J. Armstrong

Michael Jordan and B.J. Armstrong

As if Michael Jordan didn’t play like an alien during his peak, his former teammate now claims that that version of MJ had been nerfed due to lack of sleep or proper rest.

Michael Jordan “literally didn’t sleep for 14 years”

BJ Armstrong spent years with Michael Jordan on the floor as a teammate and rival. As someone who had seen him up close, Armstrong claimed that MJ could have been so much better if he had rested enough.

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“We didn’t see the best of Michael Jordan because he literally didn’t sleep for 14 years. My moment was watching him play 35-40 minutes, then come to practice with the same energy. I’ve never seen a guy this competitive and he’s always on. In practice, I realized he’s different. Everybody else is a little tired. And all of a sudden, when Phil Jackson blew the whistle, this guy acts like he got 10 hours of sleep. You got a guy that didn’t sleep, he didn’t eat, he’s playing cards, or whatever he’s doing at night… And the guy is playing, and you’re just like ‘Wait a minute, he just played 45 minutes the other night. How?'”

B.J.’s claim that Mike “literally didn’t sleep in 14 years” is obviously hyperbole, but the message had been delivered: the NBA world was lucky enough that the MJ it got was not the best version of himself. How many MVPs, championships, and world titles could Jordan have won if he rested properly?

Jordan’s relentless pursuit of becoming better and his ruthless competitive spirit kept his drive burning even when MJ should have been sleeping or recuperating. For people like him, sleeping was a waste of time that could have been spent practicing or mastering hobbies. Even outside the basketball court, we’ve learned of tales about Jordan playing golf or cards that became so competitive he wouldn’t rest until he won. George Karl has also attested to Mike’s unhealthy sleeping habits.

Does having quality sleep help?

We have players who put emphasis and millions of investments to help them sleep or relax. Andre Iguodala and the rest of the Golden State Warriors are fans of sleep science. The changes might be minimal, but Iguodala’s efficiency spiked. His 3-point shooting connection doubled, and his turnovers and fouls decreased. Andre also increased his points-per-minute by as much as 29%, per Wired. If quality rest could do this to Iguodala, imagine what it could have done for the GOAT.

Athletes usually suffer from anxiety before big games. The pressure to perform well under the bright lights give them insomnia. This becomes dangerous as we know what happens to players when they lack focus during games: accidents or injuries occur. What Armstrong shared with the world only added to the myth of MJ. 

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