Even back in the early 90s, the NBA community loved to compare and contrast the game's best players. From Wilt to Magic and Bird, the NBA saw no shortage of stars leading up to the Michael Jordan era.
So when MJ himself was asked to list his All-Time starting five back in 1992, he had the ear of every fan and analyst able to listen. Here's what he said during that exclusive interview with Playboy magazine:
Playboy: What’s your all-time starting five?
Jordan: Me and Magic, Bird, Worthy, McHale or Malone, David Robinson or Abdul-Jabbar.
Playboy: And you can beat anyone ever?
Jordan: I did this with Jerry Krause once. He chose Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Jerry West. At small forward he had Dr. J. The power forward was Gus Johnson. I told him I’d kill him. Of all players, the all-time greats, he left off Magic and he left off Bird. He was excluding me. He put West at two [shooting] guard.
He even provided a substitute for himself.
Playboy: What if you couldn’t pick yourself?
Jordan: I would put West at two, too.
Remember, back in 1992, Jordan wasn't done with his career and had yet to solidify himself as the GOAT. Regardless of that, he was in no short supply of confidence, putting himself in the same group as guys like Magic, Bird, and James Worthy.
As for some surprises, picking David Robinson and Kevin McHale over Charles Barkley and Wilt Chamberlain is arguable -- but the list probably looks very different now than it did then.
Since Jordan retired, guys like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal are guys who have ascended into legendary status, and Mike would undoubtedly want at least one of those guys on his side if he was building a team today.
Still, it's interesting to see who Jordan admired during his playing days. As he was carving out his own legacy, he followed in the footsteps of many of the greats who came before him.
And now guys are using his career as a model to follow for their own game.