Former Detroit Pistons star John Salley was talking about the best players of all time and somehow managed to rank Michael Jordan outside of his top five (via ESPN Radio’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd).
While the players he ranked ahead of MJ aren’t exactly slouches, you won’t find many basketball fans agreeing with "The Spider’s" list.
Salley—in order—put Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin McHale ahead of the former Chicago Bulls great.
He even went so far as to call Isiah Thomas the best player he had ever played with, even though Salley was a member of the 1996 Bulls (the team that won an NBA-record 72 games with Jordan leading them).
The former Pistons “Bad Boy” said he’s a “Michael Jordan fan” but doesn’t think he’s the greatest because he would be selfish, and Salley's Detroit team knew how to stop him consistently.
Salley revealed that if he were able to force MJ to the left with the ball, he wouldn’t pass it and often settle for poor jumpers. He also called his defense overrated and a product of a hand-checking era.
Jordan has ridiculously large mittens, and Spider pointed out that he would use them on his opponent’s stomach to guide them where he wanted them to go. That would not fly in today’s NBA whatsoever.
While some hardcore NBA junkies might agree with Salley that Jordan isn’t the greatest ever (Bill Russell, Magic, Bird and Kareem can have arguments made as the G.O.A.T), almost no one would have the audacity to rank His Airness outside the top five.
Considering Jordan is a six-time NBA champion, six-time Finals MVP, five-time regular-season MVP, 14-time All-Star, 10-time scoring champion, 10-time All-NBA first team, nine-time All-Defensive first team and even the 1988 Defensive Player of the Year, it’s hard to see how Salley is going to justify his ludicrous statement.
Even if you have never seen MJ play basketball, you can gather—from that body of work—that the Bulls superstar was one of the most decorated players in the history of the game and likely one of the greats.
While Salley and the Detroit Pistons of the late 1980s and early '90s never liked Jordan on the court, they should learn to at least respect him in retirement.