COMPARE AND CONTRAST JORDAN AND BIRD
Now that Michael Jordan has retired (again), it's time to re-examine what was once a heated debate in basketball circles: "Who is better, Michael Jordan or Larry Bird?". There was a time that this was as talked about an issue as "Is professional wrestling real or staged?". Much like the wrestling question, debate over the greatest player in NBA history has always said that the answer is obvious. A look at the numbers will show, however, that the title of "NBA's All-Time Greatest Player" is still very much in dispute.
In comparing these two extraordinary athletes I frist examined the statistics of both players, which proved to be very interesting. Larry Bird came out on top in the free throws with an average 89% to Jordans 84%. Larry also came out on top in three point category with a life time average 38% to MJs 33%. Rebounds per game also leaned in Larry favor 10 to MJs 6.
Assists where another category that Bird got the better of Jordan in with 6 a game for Larry and 5 for MJ. In the steals per game category they tied with 2 per game. They also where almost identical in blocks per game with life time averages of .89 a game for MJ and .87 a game for Larry not that impressive of a sat for either of them.Know lets talk about the categories that Michael Jordan was better in. Like shooting percentage Jordan Leeds Bird in this category 51% to Birds 50% I think that when you look at this sat it is important to remember that Bird played in an era with out the high percentage slam dunk that MJ made famous. Now points per game MJ had 31 a game to Larrys 24 this is the only sat where MJ has a decisive edge over Larry.
So what does it all mean? Was Larry better than Michael? Not necessarily. Was Jordan the greatest player in the history of the game? Perhaps. Then again, perhaps not.
Michael Jordan filled the "greatness void" left by such players as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Julius Erving. He has been coddled by referees and has amassed trophies and accolades in a league where no one could challenge him. While the argument could be made that this is the reason MJ is the best there ever was, I don't see it that way. Jordan has made his mark in an era where expansion and million-dollar salaries for mediocre players have watered down the overall talent in the league beyond comparison to Bird's era.
DON'T GET ME WRONG: Jordan is surely among the all-time greatest players in the history of the NBA. The point of this comparison is to demonstrate that the answer to the question "Who is the all-time best" is not as self-evident as one may think. As a die-hard Celtic fan, even I was ready to relinquish that crown to Jordan at one point. Yet when you look at their statistics and consider them in terms of the makeup of the league during the heights of their careers... I think the argument could be made either way.