May 14, 2012

5 Players That Were Better Than Michael Jordan

     You can't escape him.  Watch ESPN for any amount of time, and his name will come up.  And every time, it will be followed or preceded by a quick "the greatest ever" or the longer "the best to ever play the game" or something of that nature.  All current NBA players are compared to him whenever they do something good, and always in a way that degrades the current player.  "LeBron was good last night, but Michael Jordan once scored 100 points in Game 7 of the NBA Finals with one shoe untied and being defended by Chuck Norris.  LeBron isn't looking so good now, is he?"  Every commentator does this.  And nobody better debate the obvious fact of MJ's greatness, lest they be hit with a chorus of things like "He has 6 rings!" or "He was SO CLUTCH!!!!"

     I can't take it anymore.  Let me spice up this nearly non-existent debate.  Michael Jordan is not the greatest player in NBA history.  In fact, here are 5 players that were better than His Airness:

1.  Wilt Chamberlain
     My personal pick for best NBA player ever.  He is the only player to actually score 100 points in a game (as opposed to the exaggerated and completely fake MJ credential I gave above).  In the 1959-60 season, he scored 37.6 points per game and recorded 27 rebounds per game.  Both were league records at the time, and he won the MVP award.  Oh, did I forget to mention that was his rookie season?!  In the 1961-62 season, Chamberlain scored an insane 50.4 points per game.  No other player has even scored 40 points per game for a whole season.  That year, he also led the league in free throws made, despite making only 61.3% of his attempts that year.

     Not only did Chamberlain perform at a ridiculous level;  he also had amazing stamina.  Chamberlain averaged over 42 minutes a game in every year of his career, and was in the top 3 in the league in minutes played in every season except 1969-70, when he only played in 12 games.  He would finish with 7 scoring titles, 11 rebounding titles, 2 championships, and the league's current rebounding record.  Professional basketball was literally too easy for Wilt Chamberlain, and if you were shown his stats without knowing who he was, you would think everything was made up.  Michael Jordan was great, but Wilt Chamberlain was unreal.

2.  Magic Johnson
     Michael Jordan was pretty selfish as a basketball player.  Wilt Chamberlain was also, but did it better.  Magic Johnson, on the other hand, was the prototypical team player.  Let's start with his passing ability:  he's the NBA's all-time leader in assists per game, with more than twice as many per game as Jordan.  How about defense?  He's 14th in NBA history with 1.9 steals per game, only about half a steal behind Jordan.  Even his scoring ability was better than Jordan's.  Jordan's scoring numbers were mostly a product of the fact that he shot a lot.  But if you look at points per field goal attempt, a better measure of scoring prowess, Magic outscored Michael 1.48 to 1.32.  Add in the fact that Magic Johnson could play any position effectively, and you have a much more well-rounded player than Mr. Jordan.

3.  Bill Russell
     For those freaks who drool over Michael Jordan's 6 championships, Bill Russell has 11.  So there.  End of argument.

     For those of you who need something more, let me start with rebounding.  Russell had some of the best rebounding numbers ever.  He's second in league history with 22.5 boards per game.  He had 5 rebounding titles in his career, and would have had 10 if not for the aforementioned Wilt Chamberlain (greatest ever).  Russell is also the best defender in NBA history, if you believe the Defensive Win Shares statistics.  For those who like scoring, Russell was in the top 5 in field goal percentage for 4 consecutive seasons.  He was even a top-10 assist guy in 4 different seasons.

     Russell wasn't much of a scorer, but he gave his teams some of the best defense and rebounding the league has ever seen.  And his teams were grateful for it at least 11 times.
4.  John Stockton
     Just a repeat of the Magic Johnson argument.  We all know about Stockton's fabulous passing.  But his defense is very underrated, as he has the most steals in NBA history.  And even though Stockton only scored 13.1 points per game, he shot 52% from the field (very impressive for a 6'1" player) and 38% from behind the arc, both better percentages than Jordan had.  For those who like using team wins to judge individual players, let me point out that Stockton's Jazz team made the Finals twice, and more impressively, they finished above .500 every year he was on the team.  All-time great passing, all-time great defense, and a wonderful shooting touch.  What more could you ask for from your point guard?

5.  Hakeem Olajuwon
     Hakeem The Dream was probably the best big play defender in NBA history.  He has the most blocks in league history, and is 8th all-time in the NBA in steals, a ridiculous number for a center.  He also snagged a not-too-shabby 11.1 rebounds per game, earning two rebounding titles in his career.  And as far as scoring goes, he scored more points than all but 8 players in NBA history, made 51% of his shots from the field, and even made 20% of his three pointers.  In addition, Olajuwon won an MVP award and two championships in his time with the Rockets.  Hakeem was the perfect all-around center who could do just about anything you asked him to.

     Now do you see?  Michael Jordan is not some unsurpassable being who can do no wrong.  Because he's already been surpassed.  It's just that with all the scoring and championships and iconic moments, nobody noticed it.  Consider this your wake-up call.

Disclaimer:  I'd probably put Jordan behind Chamberlain, Stockton, and Magic, but ahead of Russell and Olajuwon.  This whole article was just meant to prove a point, and I think I did a pretty good job of it.  Disagree?  Let me know in the comments section below.


  1. I think Magic was the greatest of all-time but Chamberlain was pretty good too.

    1. All this guy did was name players who did certain things better that Jordan.

  2. The only reason wilt scored 100 because there was no competition against him. He had the advantage because he was 7ft tall. The average height for centers back was 6'8.

    1. NO IT WAS BECAUSE THERE WAS NO 3 second rule back then.. he would post up ALLL DAYYY!

  3. Y is JOHN STOCKTON even mentioned? But yeah it's a lot other players with great stats. I honestly can never compare players if they're not the same position bc obviously their stats are gonna be different bc they're doin different things. Really LeBron stats are startin to look better than Jordans

  4. Baloney, no one is better than MJ! 23!!!

  5. Replies
    1. WORD!! n KAREEM! as well as THE POSTMAN!!