When it comes to all-time greats in any sport, Michael Jordan is near the top of the list. Jordan literally changed the game of basketball, helping to make the NBA a global phenomenon; his official biography on the league’s own website even calls him “the greatest basketball player of all time.”
That status doesn’t prevent His Airness from coming out with some bad opinions, however. Jordan recently dropped a take about Steph Curry that was simultaneously ice cold and scorchingly hot.
Michael Jordan’s dream team
On Monday, Jordan appeared on the Today Show. The booking made sense, as MJ is arguably the most famous basketball player ever, and the NBA season starts tonight. While the interview wasn’t a hardcore sports conversation, the topic was unavoidable.
In 2013, Jordan said that, if he were trying to build an unbeatable pick-up team, he would play with Scottie Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon, Magic Johnson, and James Worthy. On Monday, interviewer Craig Melvin asked the former Chicago Bulls star if he would make any changes to the line-up, like adding Steph Curry.
Jordan cited his personal experience with his dream team, and Melvin asked if Curry should be offended by his exclusion. “I hope not. He’s still a great player. Not a Hall of Famer yet though,” Jordan responded. “He’s not.”
Parsing Jordan’s comments
In a literal sense, everything Jordan said is correct. Steph Curry, for all of his NBA success, is not in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Players are only eligible for enshrinement three years after they’ve retired, meaning the Warriors guard won’t be heading to Springfield anytime soon.
While the comment about Curry was probably meant more as a joke than anything else, Jordan’s comments about his dream team do tap into an “old boys club” mentality. He won’t replace those guys because he played with and against them; his personal experience trumps any other logic. “When I’m going in the trenches, I played against and with all these guys. I’m going with who I know,” he explained.
While it would be unreasonable for Jordan to kick his peers to the curb in favor of the flavor of the month, Curry isn’t some kid who just showed up in the NBA; he’s an established star who has changed the way modern basketball is played.
On the whole, Jordan’s comments aren’t especially groundbreaking; he knows as well as anyone else that Curry is a star. They are worth considering as a prism for analysis, however. Are pundits, speaking about the NBA or anything else, coming from a place of personal bias or statistical fact?
How Curry can improve his resume
As we’ve already established, Steph Curry will be a Hall of Famer after he retires. His statistical performance—both in college and the pros—and impact on the way basketball offenses are structured is more than enough to send him to Springfield. The Warriors guard can bolster his case even further this season, though.
Despite their status as a modern NBA dynasty, the Warriors suffered some key personnel changes this summer. They lost Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets in free agency, while Andre Iguodala moved to Memphis and Shaun Livingston retired. Klay Thompson is likely to miss the entire year, leaving Curry and Draymond Green to carry the load.
While the Warriors are still one of the top teams in the league, the start of the season will be especially challenging. If Curry can carry the team as their chemistry develops, it will add another feather to his cap.