How good was Michael Jordan's era?

Did Michael Jordan play in a weak era, or was he just that much better than everyone else?

He was just that much better than everybody else.

He played at the same time as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson , they are 2 of the other all time NBA greats.

I’m no NBA expert, but it’s my impression that Pippen, Malone, Stockton, Ewing, Olajuwon, Barkley, Drexler, Robinson, Mutumbo, and Thomas are all legitimate great players. Depending on what you consider his era, you can throw Bryant, Shaq, Magic, and Bird in there too.

I don’t know how stacked/diluted the late 80s-mid 90s was compared to say, today, but that doesn’t seem like a weak era.

The best players were truly awesome and great to watch. I’d say the best players probably had a more specialized set of skills along with some glaring holes vs. today’s best players. The quality of the teams top to bottom were probably worse.

You will find a variety of opinions on this subject, especially when comparing Jordan’s era to the current. While I feel that Jordan is the “greatest of all-time”, I still think LeBron James is the best player of all time and that the current era is by far vastly superior to all of those before it. Here’s why:

-Jordan’s reign really began once the Magic/Bird/Isiah era ended. While that time period was known for its toughness and physicality, the overall skill level was nothing like today

-Just about every NBA team of today includes important players from around the globe. In Jordan’s era, it was primarily a US-centric game. There was even a whole lot of controversy when the Bulls acquired Toni Kukoc, since the Bulls players felt that they didn’t need a foreign player. Plus, there are so many players from those days that started for very good teams that wouldn’t even make it onto teams of today.

-While Jordan gets the lion’s share of the credit for the Bulls’ dominance, it was really that his team was just a superior team. The Bulls didn’t win anything until Jordan’s 7th season (right after Doug Collins was replaced by Phil Jackson), and he had reached his prime several years before that. Plus, you shouldn’t under-estimate the impact of Scottie Pippen, who was a soft-spoken and humble kid from Arkansas. He stayed away from the spotlight, allowing Jordan to take all of the credit.

I think today’s era and the Jordan era are pretty close with a small lull in between. The 2004 Detroit team was a fun team to watch but they were basically the Cosby kids and the first “super team” with the Celtics was a group of high quality players who couldn’t really carry a team.

The thing I’ve always found baffling and more than little irritating about the Jordan era was how so many people involved not only completely downplayed everyone else involved in the Bulls juggernaut, in particular Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, and Phil Jackson (and yes, even that weirdo Dennis Rodman made an impact for one of those rings), they were ferociously militant about never, never, ever giving anyone else credit. Seriously, Pippen had one of the most standout careers of anyone in the 90’s, and except for a few real scholars of the game (or the occasional hates-everyone-equally commentator like Colin Cowherd), literally the only things I’ve ever heard about him were the bizarre tiff he got into with Toni Kukoc in that one playoff game and being overpaid in Portland. I mean, I’m sure there were a fair number of sports personalities who didn’t particularly want to talk about Shaquille O’Neal’s stint in the Lakers after he left for the Heat, but it never rose to the level of a gag order.

Anyway, the thing I remember about the time was that there were plenty of strong contenders, none of them had the killer instinct and cohesiveness it took to really get over the hump. The Suns were notorious chokers, the Jazz were the very definition of “treadmill”, the Rockets drafted a superstar center and left him for dead, the Supersonics were streaky and guaranteed to crumble at some point in the playoffs. The Spurs, led by the disciplined but physically soft David Robinson, were a perennial disappointment for years, lucked out in the draft with Tim Duncan, dominated for a bit…and regressed back to a perennial disappointment. Any time an opponent took one game or two games off of them, all it amounted to was raising false hopes. This team was not going to be beaten in the playoffs. (The same was true about the Rockets in '94 and '95, incidentally, although I’m thinking sports historians will have a much harder time explaining that one.)

I’d argue that today’s league is weaker due to 1. more teams, and 2. more players entering without being properly developed. When a college superstar bursts into the league with a ton of hype and gets hailed as the next huge thing (so much so that Knicks fans burst into tears when they learn they’re not going to get him), and from day one he has major injury concerns to the point where he misses more than half of his rookie season, I think there’s a bit of a problem.

Yeah, Pippen, Rodman, Kerr and Grant were big contributors and great players. Jordan was a phenomenon, of course. Nobody had seen a player quite like him before. He shredded defenses with ease and was spectacularly athletic.

Jordan was also one of the best defenders in history, and one could argue that Pippen was even better, since he could guard all 5 positions on the floor. When they got Rodman for the 2nd 3-peat, it was probably the greatest defensive team ever assembled.

If people really respected Michael Jordan it wouldn’t be taking so long to sell his house (it’s been on the market nearly eight years). Hell, he’s cut the price nearly in half and offering to throw in a complete set of Air Jordans to a buyer!

It’s costing Jordan $100,000 in property taxes a year while the place stays unsold. I mean, how can he afford that? :smiley:

Yeah, but the kitchen counter height is six feet off the floor!

So are the toilets!

Jordan and the Bulls peaked at the start of NBA expansion. Obviously, an NBA with 4 more teams isnt going to be as strong as the previous NBA.

There are always really good players competing with the elite players of the day. What makes great players of an era different from really good players is that the great players beat the others out: consistently. Jordan defeated Magic Johnson’s Lakers, Isaiah Thomas’ Pistons, Clyde Drexler’s Blazers, and Hakeem Olajuwon’s Rockets won back-to-back titles but only when Jordan was retired. Jordan’s Bulls swept Shaquille O’Neal’s Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They beat Malone and Stockton - twice. They beat Barkley’s Suns. They took on all comers. They won six titles. Enough said.

Simply put, the NBA was far, far superior to the rest of the world during Jordan’s era. Ironically, it was the addition of NBA players to international competition that actually made teams from around the world better.

There’s no question that Jordan’s supporting cast helped, but so did Lebron’s. Every great player needs a supporting cast of other really good players to win. A lot of people would look at the 2011 Miami Heat and wonder how Miami loses with Lebron, Bosh, and D-Wade.

And just for the record, I’m a huge Lebron fan and I believe that King James is right up there with Jordan in terms of overall game.

I’d still put the Pistons of 1989-90 and the Pistons of 2004 over the Bulls in terms of defense; the Spurs had some good teams as well in that respect.

Rodman is pretty odd but he’s also in the BB HOF

He was just that much better.

More to the point, I don’t know how someone constructs an argument his era was “Weak.” Surely the time of the greatest players in their sports - Ruth, Gretzky, Brady - can’t ALL have been weak. If the argument for an era being weak is there was a transcendent star kicking ass, then we’d never have anyone who was the greatest of all time.

As asahi very well states, Jordan wasn’t beating no name assholes. He went up against a lot of great, great basketball players, and he won.

The “more teams” thing just falls apart so easily. For one thing, it’s not like they doubled the size of the league. When Jordan started winning titles, there were 25, and 27 during his second championship run. If anyone benefitted from expansion, Michael Jordan did much more than any player today, because it was happening while he was playing, and that’s the time the new talent is weakest.

The NBA hasn’t expanded in awhile now; the last team they added was Charlotte in 2004. The league has had lots of time to grow and fill in the talent gaps. The number of teams in a league creates more of a demand for players, which inititall can thin talent but also creates increased effort in developing talent.

Most pertinently, the NBA is drawing far more talent from overseas. Today 25% of the association is from outside the USA. There’s more European talent, but also new waves of talent from Africa. The Asian talent base hasn’t generated much yet - we got Yao Ming, though, and more is on the way. That is a HUGE change from Jordan’s era, when the figure was only about 4-5 percent from outside the USA. In effect, the NBA has found the equivalent of five or six entire teams from outside the USA, and unless your position is that those countries just found out how to play basketball in 1996, it’s very hard to deny this represents a real increase in the available talent; the NBA is just doing more to find it. The additions of Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, the brothers Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Tony Parker, etc. etc. add a lot to the NBA.

On the topic of weak eras:

I’m most familiar with soccer, although going way back my knowledge decreases pretty significantly. I took the top 40 players of all time from some recent poll and counted them by the decade in which they were most prevalent. The results:

1950s - 3
1960s - 7
1970s - 3
1980s - 6
1990s - 7
2000s - 9
2010s - 5

Would that be a good method to measure eras though? Find the distribution of the top N players? Probably need more than the top 40, and this specific poll had a pretty strong bias for English players, IMO.

Comparing a player relative to their era be it approximate value, or WAR, seems to be fairly well understood. Not sure if there is a standard way to compare eras themselves and not in the trivial “all sports get more sophisticated and athletic over time” kind of way.

Jordan was the man who single-handedly (yes, yes team sport) ended Bird’s, Isiah’s and Magic’s championship eras. And he did it in that order.