Michael Jordan is not only the greatest NBA player of all time but one of the most iconic athletes in the world of sports. His Airness inspired people from different sports, and other ambits, like actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The Chicago Bulls legend had a different aura around him, and wherever he went, everybody showed respect.
The court wasn't the exception and Mike used that in his favor. His mind games did half of the job when he tried to defeat rivals. You can say he took things personally, made up stories to fuel his competitiveness, whatever. That worked and made him a 6x NBA champion, the GOAT, and one of the most honored players to ever exist.
He showed his quality day in and day out, and not even his teammates could believe the kind of player he was. While Steve Kerr thinks Michael would have become the greatest shooter of all time if he played in today's game, others remember his active days, praising him for intimidating rivals with only his presence.
Kendall Gil, for instance, compared Jordan's impact to Mike Tyson, once considered the 'baddest man' on earth, who inflicted a lot of fear in his rivals even before entering the ring.
Via The Athletic:
Chicago native Kendall Gill, who entered the NBA in 1990, and played against Jordan before that in the local summer leagues, called it “the Mike Tyson effect.”
“Mike Tyson used to have his opponent beat before he got to the arena,” Gill said. “That’s how MJ used to have a lot of these guys.”
Kerr also chimed in on this, stating that Jordan's presence earned a lot of respect from fans and rivals. He was one of a kind and everybody around him was well aware of that.
But Jordan’s mystique was more primal.
“There was just this sense from everybody in the gym, the opponent, the other coaching staff, the officials, fans, there was just a sense that he was better than everybody and he was going to dominate the game,” Kerr said. “And he was kind of invincible. So it went beyond his skill set and his competitiveness and his size and speed and footwork. It just went beyond all that because he was so dominant emotionally. It was like he cast a spell over every game.”
Added Nets coach Steve Nash, who was a rookie during the 1996-97 season: “It was, in a sense, alarming to play against him because you just sat there and watched him win and win and would be so dominant and be someone everyone was intimidated by.”
There are many stories about Jordan's greatness but the things that his former teammates and rivals saw perfectly sum up how incredible this man was. We have no words left to describe MJ and we don't think it's necessary that we look for more. This man was something different and nobody can deny that. Love him or hate him, Jordan made an impact on everybody who watched him play, becoming the greatest basketball player of all time in the process.