Michael Jordan. There isn’t even a little bit of wiggle room for debate in the matter.

The NBA has seen many legends grace its courts and even has several in the making, but none can match the impact of Jordan. 

The bar was set by fellow all-time greats Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, and Bill Russell, but Jordan’s arrival and sustained high level of play firmly cements the New York City native as the greatest of all time. 

This is how Michael Jordan earned his place as the greatest player in NBA history.

Why Michael Jordan Is The Greatest NBA Player of All Time

Michael Jordan is the greatest NBA player of all time because of his incredible performances in the sport, the horde of accolades earned during his time in the NBA, and his ability to change the league at a time when it needed a superstar.

Drafted third overall in 1984 – after Hakeem Olajuwon went to the Houston Rockets and Sam Bowie was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers – Jordan’s rookie season offered a glimpse of what was to come. 

The inaugural campaign saw him play all 82 games to average 38.3 minutes, a 51.5 field goal percentage, 6.5 rebounds, 2.4 steals, and 28.2 points to help the Chicago Bulls make it to the playoffs.

His sheer athleticism, competitive drive, and iconic leaps set him apart from his peers and helped him to influence North American pop culture, particularly through his collaboration with Nike to bring the Air Jordan line to the fore. 

By the end, with 13 years as a Bull and two with the Washington Wizards, Jordan had collected six NBA Championship rings, was a 14-time All-Star, and won the league’s regular season MVP prize five times. 

His legacy goes beyond basketball, too. Being such a star athlete, Jordan even dipped out into baseball for a time, but by that point, he was already an NBA legend. 

Jordan can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Muhammad Ali and Babe Ruth as US national heroes who transcended their era and their respective sports. 

Is Michael Jordan the Greatest NBA Playoffs Player of All-Time?

Nine players boast more championship rings than Jordan, seven of whom are Hall of Famers, and one even saw the NBA Finals MVP Award renamed to him in 2009 – Bill Russell. 

However, none of those players carried their teams and dominated in the playoffs and finals quite like Jordan did, which has been perfectly showcased by his perfect record of six Playoff Finals, six Finals victories, and the record-holding six NBA Finals MVP Awards.

It began with the three-peat from 1991 to 1993, with Jordan and the Bulls besting the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns in five, six, and six games, respectively. He won the MVP prize in each.

After a two-year hiatus, which saw 1984’s first-overall pick, Olajuwon, lead the Rockets to back-to-back championships, Jordan and the Bulls were back to competing in the final series of the season. 

Again, it was a three-peat for Jordan and the Bulls, conquering the Seattle SuperSonics and Utah Jazz twice in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Game 7 didn’t come into the equation this time, either, and Jordan added three more Finals MVP Awards to his mantelpiece. 

It doesn’t look as though the Bulls will be looking to replicate these dynastic efforts anytime soon, though, as the Chicago team sits out at +10000 in the NBA odds to win the title: far behind the +450 Boston Celtics. 

Is Michael Jordan an All-Time Stats Leader?

Jordan is the joint all-time NBA leader for regular season points per game at 30.1, tied with Wilt Chamberlain. He’s also in the top ten for his 2.3 steals, 22.9 field goals attempted, 11.4 field goals made, and 6.8 free throws made. 

In the playoffs, where Jordan regularly managed to hit another level, he leads the all-time averages charts with his 33.4 points and 12.2 field goals made, ranks second for 25.1 field goals attempted, and third for 8.2 free throws made. 

In 15 NBA seasons, only two of which were seriously cut short (1986 and 1994/95), Jordan played 1072 games for the Bulls and Wizards, putting up some hefty averages even to his 40th birthday. 

Can Any Active NBA Player Rival Michael Jordan?

For the title of the greatest player in NBA history, Michael Jordan’s rule is undisputed even when you consider active NBA stars. However, the player who comes the closest is LeBron James. 

Making a huge cultural impact, winning NBA Championships with three teams, and being named Finals MVP four times, James is essentially the modern game’s Jordan.

Now 38-years-old, James is still putting up mighty averages and continues to be a game-changer for the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 27.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and a 50.5 field goal percentage over his 1421 regular season games to date. 

In the postseason, the Ohio-born forward hits even greater heights with a 28.5 points average, 7.2 assists, and 9.0 rebounds. Ike Jordan, James raises his game at the most crucial end of the season. 

Even with James on the team, the Lakers are dark horse contenders for the 2023/24 NBA crown, sitting at +1000 in the futures markets of basketball betting

Michael Jordan remains the greatest player in NBA history, and while James may be able to add two more rings and two more MVP awards, it seems unlikely that the consensus would swing away from His Airness.

*Credit for all images in this article belongs to AP Photo*

Ben is very much a sports nerd, being obsessed with statistical deep dives and the numbers behind the results and performances.

Top of the agenda are hockey, soccer, and boxing, but there's always time for the NFL, cricket, Formula One, and a bit of mixed martial arts.