Kevin McHale knows something about guarding the opposing team’s best player. He’s played with and against the best of them. As a member of the Boston Celtics, he ran with Larry Bird, faced Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. The power forward explained how Jordan, Bird, and Johnson could be controlled.
Limit Michael Jordan’s production
In an interview published on All Basketball TV, McHale was joined by other NBA legends such as Bill Walton and Darryl Dawkins. McHale claimed that Bird and Magic could change the game even if they only took ten shots. Bird and Magic’s games were complete that they could still get double digits in areas outside scoring, such as rebounds, steals, or assists. Meanwhile, everyone knew MJ could not be stopped, and the best way to limit him was to lessen touches.
If you’ve got Michael Jordan to take 10 shots, you control him.
Kevin McHale via All Basketball TV
MJ had other aspects in his game, but it was the scoring area that most defenders were rendered useless. When legends such as McHale suggested that the only way to stop him was to limit his shots, it reflects how high they regard Jordan and his impact on games.
Any critic would tell you that great players could not be stopped. They could only be limited. The elite scorers such as Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, or Tracy McGrady would mean nightmares for coaches and defenders. These players can dig deep in their bag of tricks and will their teams to win.
Michael Jordan’s lowest scoring output
In his career, there were only a handful of teams that limited Jordan’s production. In his younger years, MJ had one of the most inefficient games of his career. On March 14, 1985, against future Eastern Conference rivals New York Knicks, MJ shot 5-of-18 from the field and 6-11 free throws, per BR. He struggled shooting that night but managed to bounce back in a big way as the conference progressed.
On January 15, 1987, the Chicago Bulls MVP missed a total of 26 field-goal attempts for a 17-of-43 shooting performance against the Houston Rockets. Despite missing a lot, MJ still managed to put up 43 points. In this game, Jordan contradicted McHale’s theory of limited touches. MJ missed many shots but still made up for it by shooting free throws.
In the latter part of his career, as a member of the Washington Wizards, the 6-time champion scored two points: on December 15 and April 2 in 2002. These games don’t count since MJ was on the decline. This just shows that defenders had to wait for Jordan to age to limit his production. Mike managed to score a career-high in Washington, even at an older age, torching the Hornets with 51 points on December 2001.