Michael Jordan must be feeling great nowadays, though he may not show it in public.
I mean, every NBA season, basketball quarters always talk about who would be the heir apparent to Jordan, and two names cropped up in the 2017 season: Lebron James and Kevin Durant.
Both James and Durant are undoubtedly among the top players in the NBA today, although James easily gets accolades for being the best in the game. As for Durant, nobody can ignore his athleticism, skill set and freakish physical proportions (he has very long arms for his height).
But as the Golden State Warriors annexed their second NBA championship with Durant onboard, and denying Lebron James his fourth championship ring and the Cleveland Cavaliers their second NBA title, it looks very clear that Jordan’s legacy remains unmatched.
James got denied his fourth championship ring and it would take a gargantuan effort on his part to match Jordan’s six in the next five to seven years, given that Durant and the Warriors seem set to establish their own dynasty.
But even as Durant will likely win more championships in the next years to come should he stick it out with the Warriors, the truth is his current team was already championship caliber when he joined it prior to the recent NBA season. I mean, the Warriors won the NBA championship in 2015 and threw away a 3-1 lead to lose in the 2016 finals to James and the Cavs. In other words, whether Durant would be on board the Warriors or not, the team will surely win championships in the future.
On the other hand, Jordan stuck it out with the Chicago Bulls and eventually became its undisputed leader (not only in scoring) to give the franchise two “three-peats” or six championships. Just imagine if Jordan after winning his first three championship rings suddenly comes out of retirement to join the Los Angeles Lakers or a team with another superstar so he can have a better chance of getting more rings?
Jordan’s era was never short of superstars like Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller and Karl Malone, among others. Ewing and Miller never won a championship but they stuck it out with their original teams and are still highly respected for that. Miller still takes pride in taking on Jordan and the best of his era even if he never won a championship.
The Warriors of today is not also the first “super team” in NBA history; one of the first super teams in the league was the “Showtime” Lakers from the early 1980s that was led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which are two big names in NBA history. Johnson led the Lakers to five championships.
Durant for as long as he stays a Warrior can exceed the number of championships Jordan amassed in his career but Jordan can still boast (even if he won’t say it) that he led the Chicago Bulls to promise land from almost nothing. For the record, the Bulls never won a championship until Jordan gave the franchise its first three-peat from 1998.
As for James, the only way he can equal or exceed Jordan’s legacy is to win at least three more championship rings. And if James gets his next three rings at the expense of the Warriors, that would cement his status as the greatest and best player of his era.
At this point, the Cavs look inferior compared to the Warriors and James beating them in the next NBA finals would make him look even greater. That would also deny Durant the chance to win more championship rings and the Warriors to establish their own dynasty.
But for now, Jordan must be feeling really great.