Jordan’s importance stretches past the confines of just basketball. When an average sports fan thinks of Chicago sports, Michael Jordan is most assuredly at the top of the list.
There is no other team in the history of the NBA for which one athlete has become synonymous with the team itself. Throughout NBA history, players have passed the torch of their legacy on to the next generation of up-and-coming superstars to carry the team in the future.
Most of the NBA powerhouses have gone through various phases in which a new superstar was leading the team. The Lakers and Celtics in particular have long lists of Hall of Famers that have all contributed to the franchises’ successes as a whole. However, no one player has truly stood above another within the time line of those teams and others.
Michael Jordan single-handedly shaped and molded the Chicago Bulls into a winning organization. In the years prior to his arrival in 1984, the Bulls were far from being considered a contender and this remained true even in his first few seasons with the team.
The league at the time was under the control of the Big Three in Boston, the Showtime Lakers, and the Bad Boys of Detroit. On paper, the Bulls were easily the underdogs; but that’s the beauty of Michael Jordan’s leadership.
As the 90’s were introduced, so was a newly-transformed Michael Jordan, ready to take over the league.
Jordan was responsible for six of the 10 championships won in the decade, even though he retired for a season and a half during the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons.
Jordan built the Chicago Bulls from the ground up and transformed them into the unstoppable team we witnessed during the championship years.
The Bulls of the 90’s were a team that, regardless of your own team loyalty, you had to watch and cheer for. His achievements during that time span set a bar that has been unreachable ever since.
From the time he announced his second retirement in 1998, sportswriters and other league representatives have been looking for a replacement—someone to fill the enormous shoes of such a legendary figure.
It’s not simply the winning attitude His Airness brought the city of Chicago and its fans, but also his loyalty to the city that decided to take the chance and draft him third overall in the 1984 NBA Draft.
All but two of his 15 NBA seasons were played in a Bulls uniform. He was a part of the team back when they played in the old Chicago Stadium and was there to usher in the new United Center arena upon his return from his initial retirement in 1995.
That type of loyalty is unheard of in today’s NBA. Players have more of a “win now” attitude and are willing to go through every means from free agency to demanding trades to achieve that goal. But MJ stayed true to his first team and stayed with them through the bad times long enough to reach the great times that were ahead.
There have not been too many players in league history for which the same can be said.