It’s easy to forget that Michael Jordan was one of the greatest defenders of all-time and arguably the best defensive two-guard in history.
Michael Jordan is known almost unanimously as the greatest basketball player to ever suit up in the NBA. His greatness was so profound that he even made fans out of his rivals. Known as “His Airness,” there was nothing that Jordan couldn’t do on the basketball court. There’s an entire generation of kids that grew up looking up to Michael as a role model – both on and off the basketball court.
It’s easily forgotten how great of an all-around player he was, though, and not just on the offensive end. He was great on the defensive side, too. During his career, Jordan earned NBA All-Defensive First-Team honors nine times. He also won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year during the 1987-88 season.
Jordan was naturally gifted to be a great defender and had a high basketball IQ. His ability to anticipate his opponent’s offensive was uncanny. He was the first player in NBA history to log at least 100 blocked shots and 200 steals in a single season. He ranks third all-time in steals (2,115).
Every time he stepped on the court, he gave it his all and that was very much evident with his play. It’s one of the big reasons why his effort was never questioned and why he was a supreme competitor.
There many examples in which Jordan time and time again proved he could be a lockdown defender – even against some of the greatest to ever play. He locked down some of the best offensive players in his era, and there are stat sheets that represent that.
One key example is during Game 3 of the 1991 NBA Finals when guarding arguably the best point guard ever – Magic Johnson. In arguably the best game of the series, Jordan would hit a game-tying jumper with less than five seconds remaining in regulation.
He would then knock the ball away from Vlade Divac to send the game into overtime.
In that overtime, it would be all Michael Jordan. He scored six of the 12 Bulls’ points. And as a defender, forced one turnover and did not allow one basket or assist by Magic. It was a sensational performance by “His Airness.”
And, it would be a sign of things to come as this was the beginning of their championship dynasty.