The Next Jordan

What does it take to be the next Jordan? Is it the championships? the awards? The hanging tongue? We know what he’s done, but time after time we hear about the “next greatest player of our time”. That title has been given to Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and most recently to Kevin Durant. Sure, it creates a hype around the league when there’s a “next Jordan” playing in your city but let’s take a closer look at what it takes to be the greatest of all time and whether the next Jordans of our era are on track to earn that title.

The Formula

Before you can be the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all time) you have to be the greatest of your generation.¬†Statistically, I always found that to be the greatest player of a generation you had to follow a certain pattern. Lead the league in scoring, win the league MVP award and then finally win a Finals MVP (which means you won a championship unless you’re the guy the NBA logo was modeled after). Jordan went above and beyond in completing this formula as he has won all 3 in the same year on 4 separate occasions. Let’s take a closer look at how some other heralded “greatest of our generation” players stack up to this formula.

For all you hardcore NBA fans asking “Where’s Tim Duncan or Allen Iverson in this conversation?”, neither of them ever completed (or will complete) this formula in their careers. Iverson with no championships and Duncan with no scoring titles leaves a very shaky ground for their rebuttals. Of the 3 players (Bryant, James and Durant) only Kobe has been able to complete the formula to earn the “greatest player of a generation” title. However, you can see that both LeBron and Durant are at least on the right track. I also included Shaquille O’Neal in the above chart because he’s completed the formula thereby earning the title as well (and is rightfully regarded as one of the most dominant centers of all time), but he’s not the greatest of all time for a good reason. He doesn’t come close to embodying the next trait it takes to be the one.

Artistry in Motion

When Jordan burst into the league he was an athletic dunking machine. His ferocious attacks on the rim couldn’t be compared, but like all great artists, he evolved. In the middle of his career he became a pure scoring machine, and later on in years he traded in his dunks for a devastating mid-range and post game. This is actually a trait seen in most great artists. The Beatles were constantly exploring for new ways to express their creativity which is evident in their iconic discography. Even in the film industry, directors such as Clint Eastwood and Christopher Nolan are given their due for always setting the tone and never conforming to the status quo. You can’t stay idle, the world marvels at people who can surprise them in ways they couldn’t even imagine. That’s who Jordan was; an artist on the court. Never looking back, only questioning where he can go from here.

Analyzing this trait in today’s players is somewhat difficult. Mostly because you can only look back at their career when is at its end. That being said, the only player who has followed in these same footsteps is Kobe Bryant, almost to a tee. He put up vicious highlights as a young player, only to become an unstoppable scorer (being from Toronto, it hurts me to write that sentence) and finally developed a dominant low-post and mid-range game. So kudos Kobe, you’re the only one of the next Jordans to embody this trait (so far).

So Who’s Next?

Judging from my previous 2 points, you probably think I’m a Kobe fan, or at least believe he is the second coming of Jordan. Well, to some extent that’s true. Kobe has followed in Jordan’s footsteps to the best of his abilities and if I had to give a “second coming of Jordan” title to someone, it would be Kobe, but there’s a difference between a second coming and the greatest of all time. To be the greatest of all time, you have to be something that has never been seen before. Your idols should be your source of inspiration, not your template to mold to. If you want to be the next Jordan, don’t try to be like Mike, be better than him. Be something the world has never seen before.

So who’s the next greatest of all time? the next Jordan? My guess is that they won’t be anything like Mike to begin with (sorry Kobe).

2 Responses to “The Next Jordan”
  1. adit says:

    Nice post man. i really liked the analysis and loved the diagram. did you make that?

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