In an interview with USA Today’s Game Hunters, NBA legend Michael Jordan discussed the release of NBA 2K11 and the game of basketball in a broader sense, during which MJ casually stated that he could have scored 100 points if he played in a game today.
Anyone who knows the game of basketball wouldn’t doubt that MJ is, if not the greatest, at least one of the greatest.
However, stats will show that he wouldn’t be able to achieve such a big score—not in his era, and definitely not in today’s scene.
In a broad sense, his career average stands at 30.1 PPG (points per game).
Yes, as of today, his PPG career average is higher than Los Angeles’s Kobe Bryant, whose career average is at 25.5 PPG. Even the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade's PPG career average stands at 25.4.
In all fairness, MJ also played more MPG (minutes per game). He did not play for less than 25 minutes per game in a season; Kobe averaged playing 20 minutes or less for his first couple of seasons.
The time on the court and their points in a season is not something that can be used to verify Jordan’s “could have” statement. Although, the fact that coaches would allow him to play for a longer period would definitely give him a leg up on the rest of the competition.
It would take more than time though. Let’s look at their career highs.
MJ scored a career game-high with 69 points in a 117-113 overtime win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. His highest in a playoff game was 63 points against the Boston Celtics. Jordan didn’t even come close to the big 100. And as competitive as he deems himself, you think he would have done it despite the difference in physical attributes and rules of the game.
Kobe holds the second place title of career-high points scored in a single game, with 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.
Wilt Chamberlain is in the lead with a 100-point performance in 1962.
The difficulty in great players achieving such a prestigious goal is not because of a lack of physical game—if anything, the physical game is much harder to come around because of all the talented players in the NBA today.
If Jordan wants more of a chance at scoring 100 points, maybe he should consider traveling back in time?
What would hold him back today?
Magic Johnson once said: “There’s Jordan and then there’s the rest of us.” That statement says a lot—if anything, it can be determined that Jordan was the only great one of his time. Nobody else on the court was on his level.
However, in today’s game it isn’t that easy. There’s Kobe, D-Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, etc.
The list goes on. So for MJ to go out and say that the NBA lacks physical talent, he’s wrong. For him to even think that scoring 100 points in a game against such talent is easy to come by, he’s wrong.
One thing is certain—Michael Jordan will not be forgotten as the greatest of HIS time.
Everyone will remember it, and if not, I’m sure he’ll think of another infamous speech to give or another interview in which he will spark media interest.
Who knows, maybe he will come back in his 50s, as mentioned in his Hall of Fame speech.
If he does so and if he scores 100 points, then maybe he will go down as the greatest of ALL TIME, too.