Michael Jordan Admitted the Simple Reason He Never Truly Embraced Shooting 3-Pointers
He did stretch the floor with his three-point stroke, but that never became a consistent part of his game. The former Chicago Bulls great’s reluctance to venture outside the rainbow came down to a simple reason.
For Michael Jordan, the decision not to shoot deep shots was simple
Michael Jordan’s offensive identity was built upon his relentless ability to get to the rim while dominating the mid-range game. He developed the latter skill throughout his career, no longer needing to rely on his athletic ability to the same extent, and his tireless work ethic and precise footwork made the transition easier.
However, he never pushed his range all the way out to three-point territory. In fact, he shot 32.7% for his career while taking 1.7 deep looks per contest.
During the 1992 NBA Finals, Jordan revealed why he wasn’t always willing to take triples.
“My three-point shooting is something I don’t want to excel at because it takes away from all phases of my game,” Jordan said. “My game is fake, drive to the hole, penetrate, dish off, dunk. When you have that mentality of making threes, you don’t go to the hole as much. You go to the three-point line and start sitting there, waiting for someone to find you. That’s not my mentality, and I don’t want to create it because it takes away from the other parts of my game.”
Jordan never averaged more than 3.6 three-point attempts per game in any campaign, and he fell below 2.0 in all but four seasons. It wasn’t that he didn’t work on his stroke from distance; rather, he never wanted to depend on that part of his game. His performance didn’t suffer, and he further excelled in other areas that cemented him as arguably the greatest player in league history.
Would Michael Jordan have excelled as a three-pointer shooter in today’s NBA?
Although Michael Jordan never fully embraced the three-point shot, he likely would have incorporated it into his repertoire had he felt doing so was necessary.
Over the last decade, the NBA has relied more and more on three-pointers. And given his inimitable work ethic and competitive drive, as well as his skill from mid-range territory, Jordan likely could have become, at the very least, an adequate shooter from the perimeter.
Plus, he did find success from three-point range in the first two years of the Chicago Bulls’ second three-peat. He hit at a 42.7% clip on 3.2 attempts per game during the 1995-96 campaign and sat at 37.4% on 3.6 attempts per contest throughout the 1996-97 season.
Granted the NBA had shortened the three-point arc during that date range, but all those factors make it hard to imagine he wouldn’t have adjusted his game effectively had he needed to do so.