Jordan’s game transcended his era to the point where fans today still speak about him with reverence. There was a dark side to Jordan’s greatness, though, and that came in the form of his oversized ego. Joe Rogan recently discussed Jordan and his ego on his podcast and drew some interesting conclusions.
Michael Jordan’s legendary competitiveness
Jordan was one of the most competitive professional athletes of all time, using perceived insults from his peers to fuel his performance. In the world of basketball, Jordan took any opportunity he could to find disrespect to help him want to get better.
He held a grudge against his high school basketball coach for leaving him off the varsity team one year. When he reached the NBA, he held another grudge against Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons, who led a freeze out of Jordan in one of his early-career All-Star Game appearances.
Jordan’s fiery, competitive nature extended well beyond the basketball court, however. There are countless stories of Jordan being ridiculously competitive in any game he played. That included card tables, golf courses, or casinos. It didn’t matter where Jordan was competing, he gave it his all.
How ‘The Last Dance’ clarified Michael Jordan’s ego and pettiness
One of the most compelling elements was how Jordan used what he saw as insults to make himself play better. For example, during the 1991 NBA Finals, some fans and media personalities compared Portland’s Clyde Drexler to Jordan. Jordan felt there was no comparison and used that as motivation, leading the Bulls to an NBA Finals victory.
Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech also put his famous vindictiveness on full display. While Jordan took time to thank plenty of his mentors, coaches, and fellow players, he also made a point to speak ill of the many people who he felt wronged him throughout his career.
Jordan certainly had a big ego, even if he could back it up. The question is whether Jordan’s ego was a good thing or a bad thing for his career. According to at least one observer, it could have been both.
Joe Rogan’s view on how this ego was a blessing and a curse
Rogan had a discussion about Michael Jordan and the concept of ego during an episode of his popular podcast. Rogan speculated on whether Jordan’s ego functioned as both a good and bad thing.
While it was bad in that it’s generally frowned upon socially to be overly egotistical, it was good in that it helped make him the great player he was. Rogan said:
“When the illness becomes beneficial…if you’re not sadistic, you don’t make a good serial killer…If you’re not a narcissistic, or an egomaniac, I wonder if you ever become a guy like Michael Jordan who’s so dominant.”
Rogan’s point is valid. It’s almost impossible to separate the man from his ego. For all of Jordan’s bravado and cockiness, underneath it all was a ridiculous level of self-confidence that helped him perform under maximum pressure.
Jordan wasn’t just the best: he knew he was the best. Unfortunately, this at times manifested itself in some less than exemplary behavior. Jordan was known to cruelly taunt his opponents at times.
Jordan is hailed — rightfully so — as one of if not the single best player of all time. It’s impossible to tell if he would have been the best without his massive ego, but Rogan doesn’t seem to think so. He could very well be right.