Everyone is talking about Michael Jordan again because ESPN released the first two episodes of ‘The Last Dance’, their documentary series on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls last Sunday. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the two superstars of the Brooklyn Nets are among the players that have been influenced by Jordan throughout their careers. Both have had a lot to say about MJ.
Averaging 6.1 million viewers, the series premiere episodes of #TheLastDance are the most-viewed ESPN documentary content ever
Across ESPN & ESPN2:
🏀 Episode 1 averaged 6.3M viewers
🏀 Episode 2 averaged 5.8M viewers
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) April 20, 2020
When comparing Michael Jordan to current NBA superstars, two points are brought up. First, that defense was more physical in Michael Jordan’s era and the game was slower, which made it harder to score and then, that today’s athletes are better and that Jordan shot just 32.7 percent from beyond the arc in his career and the current NBA relies too much on 3-point shooting. Believe it or not, many “experts” think that Jordan would not thrive in today’s NBA.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to return for playoffs? The delay to the NBA season could make Irving and Durant return. Irving and KD were both assumed out for the season but if the suspension because of COVID-19 concerns continues for too long, the team could consider taking a chance and letting Irving and Durant play once the season resumes.
The Nets are seventh in the Eastern Conference standings. Irving underwent a procedure on his right shoulder in late February. He had missed 26 games earlier in the season because of this same injury and he evaluated all options during his lengthy recovery period but coming back ended up being even more costly for the talented point guard.
Durant, who signed a four-year, $164 million deal with the Nets in the offseason, suffered an Achilles injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in June against the Raptors when he was still with the Warriors and he hasn’t made his Nets debut.
Irving was asked about the comparisons between Michael Jordan and LeBron James and this is what he told Hot 97 in 2018:
“All those comparisons are fun to talk about. It’s how intense it gets,” Irving said. “I hope that some individuals see, when they’re watching the games, just the appreciation for what’s happening. Like if someone is playing extremely well, and it’s just like comparisons… Shout out to my man [Boston head coach] Brad Stevens on this. He told me, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ And that right there was one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard.”
He then shared his opinion on whether James had reached Jordan status by saying a simple, yet effective “nah.”
Durant recently talked to ESPN’s Jay Williams on “The Boardroom” and said:
“He can adapt his game to anything,” Durant explained. “He would fit in as the best player in the league. That’s what he would be. He would have more possessions to do more things. More space for M.J. to go to work. We’ll never know, but for sure he’s a masterful basketball player, and like we’ve been saying his skill level is unmatched.”
Will the NBA return this season somehow? Will they skip the rest of the regular season and go straight to the playoffs? Will the games be played on neutral courts without fans? No one has the answers to these questions right now and it’s even harder to tell if Irving and/or Durant would be willing to risk it all by playing earlier than expected without having as much recovery time as they probably should have.
One thing is certain though, the NBA Playoffs could be played around the date that the 2020-21 season was supposed to start and if Irving and Durant come back for them the Nets would be a very scary opponent.
Going back to MJ, Irving, Durant and many of us as kids tried to emulate Michael Jordan’s iconic “tongue wag” while playing basketball with friends but we never knew where it came from and why he started doing it. It turns out that Michael Jordan got the idea from his father, after watching him stick out his tongue while fixing things around the house. Intentionally or subconsciously he started doing the same while playing basketball.
You also might not know that he actually admired Magic Johnson. Jordan and Magic had a big rivalry on the court, especially in the 1991 NBA Finals when MJ and the Bulls beat Magic and the Lakers but Jordan’s childhood idol was Magic Johnson.