As every NBA fan knows by now, Michael Jordan was a part of some of the greatest teams in history during his run with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. He led the Bulls to six NBA championships in eight seasons, one of which he wasn’t even around for as he was off attempting a career in baseball. While Jordan was clearly the leader of the team, he also played alongside some fantastic teammates. Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc, and Horace Grant are just a few of the many players that assisted Jordan in obtaining those six rings.
He also got the chance to play alongside some of the best players in the world as part of the famed 1992 Dream Team. He then joined up with some of the next generation of stars in two seasons with the Washington Wizards. But what if Michael Jordan could put his own dream team together? Who makes the cut for the most critical individual the NBA has ever seen? As it turns out, it doesn’t include anyone that he didn’t play with or against in his prime. No Kobe. No LeBron. No Steph.
In 2013, Michael Jordan was asked to name his all-time starting five, which naturally included himself. He then went with Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Hakeem Olajuwon. But that was seven years ago. Surely, he would have changed his mind when asked the question again late last year. Nope. Without hesitation, Jordan said he would keep that lineup “in a heartbeat.”
Scottie Pippen is the main reason Michael Jordan has six NBA titles
Scottie Pippen being included on Michael Jordan’s all-time team should come as no surprise to anyone. After all, without Pippen, there’s a very good chance that Jordan would have never won a single NBA title. The Bulls saw something special in Pippen when they traded for him on draft night in 1987 and they were right. Pippen was a seven-time All-Star in Chicago and one of the best defenders in the NBA, earning 10 All-Defensive selections in his career. He wasn’t bad on offense either, averaging 19.4 points per game in Chicago’s six championship seasons.
James Worthy was MJ’s teammate at North Carolina and played against him in the 1991 NBA Finals
While everyone talks about Michael Jordan’s famous shot in the 1982 NCAA Championship Game that helped North Carolina win a national title, many forget that James Worthy was the leading scorer for the Tar Heels that night, pouring in 28 points. Worthy was a First-Team All-American that season, was named ACC Tournament MVP, and was also the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament. He was the first overall pick in the 1982 NBA draft and went on to win three titles with the Lakers and was named NBA Finals MVP in 1988. Worthy made seven consecutive All-Star appearances from 1986-1992 and joined Michael Jordan as one of the 50 greatest players of all time during the league’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1996. Jordan’s Bulls defeated Worthy’s Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals.
Magic Johnson won a gold medal with Michael Jordan the year after MJ beat him in the NBA Finals
When Michael Jordan entered the NBA in 1984, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were the top two stars in the league as the Lakers and Celtics owned the 1980s. Jordan, who was a fan of Magic’s in high school, used Johnson as motivation on his journey to the top of the basketball world, which culminated in a highly-anticipated matchup between the two in the 1991 NBA Finals, which Jordan obviously won. The two would finally get to join forces the following year at the 1992 Olympics as part of the Dream Team, but also had a famous duel at one of the practices that some have called the greatest game never seen.
Hakeem Olajuwon was the first pick in the 1984 draft and took full advantage of Jordan’s absence from the NBA
The only man on his all-time team that Michael Jordan didn’t play with or against in the NBA Finals in his career is Hakeem Olajuwon. Olajuwon was the top pick in the famed 1984 NBA draft, two spots ahead of Jordan. “The Dream” was one of the best centers in NBA history and took full advantage of Jordan’s hiatus from the league from 1993-1995. In the full season in which MJ was gone, Olajuwon won NBA MVP and led the Houston Rockets to their first title in franchise history. When Jordan came back the following season, the Bulls were eliminated in the playoffs by the Orlando Magic, whom Olajuwon and the Rockets swept in the 1995 NBA Finals to go back-to-back.
So why these four specifically and not anyone from the new era? Well, Michael Jordan had a very good reason for that, as he told the “Today” show late last year.
“When I’m going in the trenches, I played against and with all these guys. I’m going with who I know. Every single night, that responsibility to go out there and represent greatness. Every single night.”Michael Jordan on his all-time team
As we’ve all seen recently during The Last Dance, Michael Jordan isn’t one to easily change his mind on anything. So I imagine this starting five will remain the same for a long, long time.