Michael Jordan rarely does interviews. He often smokes cigars.
So it was only fitting that the Hall of Famer and Charlotte Hornets owner recently opened up to Cigar Aficionado magazine, discussing topics ranging from whether he is the greatest player of all time, today’s NBA, why he doesn’t want to coach, his stint in Minor League Baseball and more.
Perhaps Jordan’s most pointed comments came when the magazine asked him about the current state of the NBA with so-called “super-teams” stockpiling talent on their rosters. Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles in the 1990s.
“I think it’s going to hurt the overall aspect of the league from a competitive standpoint,” Jordan told the magazine. “You’re going to have one or two teams that are going to be great, and another 28 teams that are going to be garbage. Or they’re going to have a tough time surviving in the business environment.”
The most notable super-team Jordan calls out is the reigning champion Golden State Warriors. But are the Cleveland Cavaliers the second team? Or what about the talent-heavy Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics?
While it’s still a bit unclear, one thing is for certain: calling the other teams “garbage” may not bode well for the Hornets owner. Despite his comments, Jordan said winning a championship in Charlotte is on his bucket list.
Jordan also weighed in on the never-ending debate about who is the greatest player of all-time, telling the magazine it was unfair to try to compare anyone who played in different eras.
“I never played against Wilt Chamberlain,” he said. “I never played against Jerry West. To now say that one’s greater than the other is being a little bit unfair … I won six championships. Bill Russell won 11. Does that make Bill Russell better than me or make me better than him? No, because we played in different eras.”
“Everybody says it was a failed opportunity to play baseball,” he said. “For me, it was the best thing to happen to me, because it allowed me to go back to the game [of basketball] with a stronger passion.
“When we won those championships [in 1996, 1997 and 1998], those things mattered to me far more than what I did in ’91, ’92 and ’93. People don’t see that. All they think about is, ‘He batted .202, and he struck out a certain number of times.’ Yeah, OK.”
Despite any far-off rumblings, Jordan also told the magazine he had no plans of coaching any time soon. He said his biggest problem from a competitive standpoint is “the focus of today’s athlete.”
“For me to ask an individual to focus on the game the way I played would, in some ways, be unfair,” he said. “And if he didn’t do it, there’s no telling where my emotions would be.”
The whole issue – featuring more Jordan comments sure to get attention – will hit newsstands on Oct. 31.
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