Having consistently dominated the game during his prime, Michael Jordan earned a reputation for being an unstoppable player. Unlike other NBA rookies, MJ hit his stride right away, averaging 28.2 points per game on 51% shooting in his debut season with the Chicago Bulls. However, keen eyes such as George Gervin's found a hole in young Jordan's game.
Mike was always right
For obvious reasons, Jordan earned his first All-Star appearance in his rookie season in 1985. At the time, Gervin's San Antonio Spurs were already in the Western Conference, so the two played in the All-Star game that year as rivals.
Since both were primarily shooting guards, Jordan and Gervin guarded each other. That was when "Iceman" realized how to stop the scoring prowess of a rookie MJ.
According to Gervin, he knew the Xs and Os of basketball more than anybody, and he could outright tell that Jordan did a lot less damage whenever he forced him to go left. Gervin also said it took a while before "His Airness" finally became an ambidextrous scorer.
"I'm a student of the game…Mike couldn't go left," Gervin told The Post Game in 2017. "I'd just get on the right side and make him go that way. He was dominant right. Until he made that adjustment in his career, he didn't take off. Once he made that adjustment, he could go both ways and get by you, lights out."
Looking back, Gervin could be right, as Jordan only scored seven points in that All-Star game.
MJ was no Ice
If there is one scoring machine Gervin sees as similar to himself, it would be Kevin Durant. For what it's worth, KD should be somewhat flattered as "Iceman" is very particular to whom he compares himself. In fact, Gervin was certain that as tremendous a scorer Jordan was, "he couldn't score like Ice."
"He had his own way of scoring," Gervin said of Jordan. "He didn't score like me. I didn't score as many points as he did, but I didn't shoot as much as he did. Mike and Kobe shot more times than anyone in the history of basketball. So that means they missed a lot."
As a four-time scoring champion, it's safe to say Gervin has earned all the right to make bold comparisons and analyses. But given that "Iceman" and Jordan didn't really see eye-to-eye back then, it's quite understandable that Gervin's comments about MJ leave some of us wondering if they are just sour grapes.