Among NBA fans who followed the game as far back as 1998, there’s a pretty commonly accepted theory, which was most recently brought to the table in yesterday’s “Getting to the Basket 101” post:
If Michael Jordan played in his prime under today’s no-hand-check rules that are friendly to scoring guards and wings, he’d average at least 40 points.
For the most part, I agree. On talent alone, MJ would would a monster if he didn’t have to deal with the physical style of the 1990s (or the extra-physical style of the 1980s). But there’s another facet you have to consider, something about the old-school rules that made Jordan the player he was.
With today’s laid-back rules, the “Bad Boys” Pistons wouldn’t have been allowed to beat the crap out of MJ during his formative NBA years, when he was making that leap from flashy superstar to cold-blooded killer. Without those early experience, would Jordan have developed the same drive and motivational fire that made him JORDAN? Or would he have been closer to another Iceman Gervin, a jaw-dropping scorer who is known more for getting buckets and not as much for being a winner?
While I’d like to see as much as anyone how 28-year-old MJ would fare in today’s game, I’m also thankful he got to make his bones in a rougher era, where his championship-caliber intangibles were hewn.
How would MJ’s career had turned out without those Detroit playoff series losses?