Michael Jordan is, uh, how do I put this, not the nicest guy on earth. This is not a dig against Jordan — his legendary competitive streak turned him into the greatest basketball player of all-time and legitimately the most famous human on the planet during his time in the NBA. But as we’ve seen during The Last Dance, Jordan was outrageously good at taking even the smallest perceived slight and turning that into a way to motivate himself into a random 50-point outing against the Atlanta Hawks or something.
This prickly disposition has popped up a few times during the doc. Magic Johnson got him mad during a Dream Team practice, so Mike turned into a hoops assassin and destroyed a team that featured some of the best players in basketball history. He is still, very obviously, furious that Scottie Pippen got a migraine once 30 years ago. Isiah Thomas. There is nothing else that is necessary to explain “Isiah Thomas.” Hell, Charles Barkley correctly pointed out that he wasn’t doing a great job with the Charlotte Bobcats and Jordan just stopped talking to the dude.
All of this got me wondering: Which NBA player would Michael Jordan hate the most in the event he played right now? So like any doofus, I tweeted it.
which current basketball player would michael jordan hate the most if he played right now
— Bill DiFilippo (@billdifilippo) May 7, 2020
A lot of people had a lot to say about this. We, as a staff, more or less decided that it should be turned into content, based entirely about these guys as basketball players and not as humans. Things were broken down into tiers — “Definitely Dislike,” “Maybe Dislike,” “Begrudgingly Respect,” and “Actually Like” — and everything needs to be explained. Here are our findings:
All gamers: There is no chance on earth that Michael Jordan would like any NBA player who games. Could you imagine if the New Orleans Pelicans lost a game, and instead of going to a court somewhere and shooting 500,000 times, Josh Hart (who played 26 minutes and had a respectable 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting with five rebounds and a few steals) decided to play Call of Duty: Warzone for an hour? He’d lose his mind. Michael Jordan, despite being famous for golfing all the time and playing cards on planes, is assuredly anti-gaming.
Andrew Wiggins: Wiggins seems like a very nice guy and a basketball player who Jordan wouldn’t dislike personally. However, his nickname is “Maple Jordan,” and there is absolutely zero chance that Mike wouldn’t go out of his way to hit a billion midrange jumpers and put the clamps on Wiggins to prove that there is only one “Jordan,” regardless of a player’s home country.
Trae Young: A wonderful basketball player who plays in a way that seems to be antithetical to how Jordan believes it should be played. Threes from a million miles away that somehow go in? No sir, there is a space 15-18 feet away from the rim that demands your attention.
Anyone who it seems like Jerry Krause would have liked: This includes most Bulls players, anyone from Croatia who he has not met before a la Toni Kukoc at the 1992 Summer Olympics, and as my pal John Wilmes pointed out, Doug McDermott.
Isaiah Thomas: No Michael, you’ve got the wrong Is(a)iah Thomas!
Patrick Beverley: He is the same kind of relentless pain in the ass John Starks was. Michael Jordan did not like John Starks. He would respect Pat’s tenacity and fearlessness, but otherwise, lord no.
Dwight Howard: I think MJ would respect the Orlando version of Dwight — indomitable rim protector, fierce rebounder, leader of a team that did not back down from anyone and succeeded because of it — and he would have some respect for this version of Dwight, who has been excellent in his current role on the Lakers. All the stuff that happened in between those two things, most notably the way things went with Kobe Bryant during his first go-around in L.A., would turn Jordan off to Dwight forever.
Draymond Green: I mean this as a compliment to Draymond, who by nature of being from Michigan and playing with a serious edge gives off incredible Bad Boys Pistons energy. Also:
Everyone on the Detroit Pistons: Self-explanatory.
Kyrie Irving: Went back and forth on this one a lot. On one hand, they are the most diametrically opposite personalities on earth. On the other, Kyrie left a team that won a championship because he wanted to challenge himself to win on his own, which is a power move I feel like Jordan would respect immensely, even if it didn’t work out. Add in that Kyrie viewed Kobe Bryant as a big brother, and Kobe viewed Mike as a big brother, and I can’t imagine that MJ’s dislike would be as strong as it seems on the surface.
Kevin Durant: There is a 10,000,000 percent chance that no one was more disappointed over KD leaving the Thunder to go to the team that beat the Thunder in the playoffs than Jordan. Having said that, I believe MJ respects KD’s game and his assassin’s mentality immensely, and Durant literally suffered a potentially career-altering injury in the pursuit of a championship, which is the sort of dedication to winning I feel like Jordan would be beyond impressed by. Plus if anyone knows about the stress that comes from the spell of success that KD and the Warriors went through, it’s Jordan.
Kawhi Leonard: During the 2019 NBA playoffs, there were folks saying Leonard was doing a Jordan impression, which is the kind of thing he would get furious over. And as we saw in The Last Dance, Jordan thinks load management is a slight against humanity, even when necessary, as is the case with Leonard. Like Durant, he respects the game, but those two things certainly irk him.
Steph Curry: A winner, which helps his cause a ton, but he did not throw himself in front of the Warriors getting Durant and has a Reggie Miller-esque level of bravado when he’s cooking that it’d drive Jordan insane. Curry also is a big golfer, which could lead to Jordan striking up a friendship with him, although he’s a better golfer than Mike and, as such, this would only further infuriate Jordan.
Ben Simmons: Jordan would turn into every single Weird Celtics Twitter person over Simmons passing up open jumpers, even if he’d do a bunch of stuff on defense reminiscent of Scottie Pippen.
Joel Embiid: Jordan would come away wildly impressed with Embiid every time they play, because Embiid would do a bunch of Hakeem Olajuwon stuff and meet Jordan at the rim and legitimately challenge him. Then, Embiid would have an off night and Jordan would wonder why he has the energy to POST on Twitter, but not POST up opponents. He would then, in their next meeting, dunk on Embiid then run down the court with his arms out like an airplane. Embiid would then do a bunch of Hakeem stuff, and the cycle would begin anew.
LeBron James: Yes, there would be animosity from Jordan over the belief that James is a better player, but ultimately I believe Jordan would view James as the Larry Bird to his Magic Johnson and respect how LeBron pushes him to be a better player. Also, LeBron hates load management and is playing 35 minutes a night as a 35 year old in a hyper-focused pursuit of a championship.
Chris Paul: Obviously he would see that CP3 is a shorter floor general who is hyper-demanding of his teammates and competes like hell on both ends of the floor and go “oh wow just like Isiah Thomas, I gotta crush him.” But Jordan would end up respecting his cerebral-ness and the fact that Paul is, like him, from North Carolina, even if he did go to Wake and not UNC. Also: CP is Jordan Brand.
James Harden: The most controversial of all of these, because there is no way that Jordan likes watching Math Ball™ under any circumstance. I, however, believe Jordan would be a big fan of how Harden plays insane amounts of minutes, shoulders a monster workload, and never gets load managed, even when he is clearly exhausted and banged up. If this is not begrudging respect, I do not know what is.
Jimmy Butler: Jimmy plays 10 billion minutes a night and is an all-time scoundrel. He has left three separate franchises because he believed they did not want to win as badly as he does. He is willing to challenge literally anyone, whether they’re an opponent or on his team. He plays with an edge at all times and is absolutely fearless. They both like to wear fun hats and smoke cigars in Florida. If they do not already love one another, I would be blown away.
Most every UNC, Michigan, Oklahoma, Florida, and Houston guy: If only because he’d enjoy reminding them they wore jerseys with his logo on them while they were in college. He would, of course, share a special kinship with his fellow Tar Heels.
Russell Westbrook: Russell Westbrook, a Jordan Brand athlete (bonus points!), is super intense and attacks the rim like crazy. It is a very Michael Jordan approach, and he would respect it.