Jordan is the GOAT

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August 8th, 2009 Aabhas Sharma

Sports fans across the globe have always had this obsession to argue over who’s the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT). Hours are spent debating, dissecting the stats, the overall contribution and all the other nitty gritties that contribute to the making of a legend, a word, in my opinion, thrown around extremely loosely these days. The usual suspects in these debates and arguments are Muhammad Ali, Michael Schumacher, Tiger Woods, Diego Maradona, Sir Don Bradman, Roger Federer, Jesse Owens and Michael Jordan.

It’s almost impossible to pick from these pantheon of greats, and very often, it depends on your own perspective of looking at the extraordinary achievements of these great men. Of course, your primary list could look different if you thought Borg was the ultimate tennis player of all time or Pele’s achievements dwarf those of Maradona’s. But more or less these are the names that are bandied around.

There’s a very thin line that separates the greats from the greatest. With no disrespect to any of these great men, in my personal opinion, Michael Jordan sits on a pedestal which any of these men could easily occupy yet they fall short.

Jordan was special, in fact he was more than special. He was unique, a phenomena who lorded over the sport like no one else. He was so good that even God had no choice but to call him God. One might just turn around and say the same about an Ali or Woods. But what separates him from these two is the ability to deliver when it mattered the most.

June 14, 1998 seems like a long time back, and as a basketball fan it seems like eternity. Yet the images of that day, and that shot remain crystal clear. A point down, 18 seconds to go, Jordan with the ball in his hand, made a charge in the Jazz’s half. All eyes on him, he has a sighter and with 5.2 seconds to go he makes the shot and sinks it in. It had to go in, there was no way he was ever going to miss it. A million hearts must have skipped a beat when the ball was air borne for a couple of seconds, but no one was ever in doubt with the outcome. After all it was Jordan, who took the shot, a man who was destined for greatness very early in his age.

The ability to deliver when it mattered the most, in my opinion, is what separates Jordan from the rest. It’s not as if Schumacher didn’t do it. Tiger Woods has a fantastic record at the Masters’ and winning titles from a point where no one gave him a chance. But throughout his career, when his team wanted it the most, Jordan was there. There hasn’t been a single athlete who was so dominant in it’s team fortunes. Of course, people can cite the example of Maradona in the 1986 World Cup. But for all his brilliance, Maradona was always a flawed genius and often went missing in games. Jordan never did. The bigger the occasion, the more he thrived. As his team-mate Scottie Pippen once said, “When we didn’t know what to do, we just passed the ball to Michael.” And he delivered every single time, yes, every single time, when it was a moment to be stood up and counted, Jordan was there. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, could easily have been coined keeping him in mind.

Not many people remember that before sinking that shot against Utah, Jordan had missed five straight shots. He had the courage and the self belief to back him against any opponent in any situation, an ability which only the best of the best possess. Even if the Bulls were trailing by 20 points into the fourth quarter, you always got the feeling that they could turn it around as long as Jordan was around. He knew, his team-mates knew it, the opposition knew it, the fans knew it, hell even people in another galaxy knew it! What was often termed extraordinary for others was just another day at the office for Jordan. You couldn’t help but shake your head in disbelief at some of the stuff he pulled off on the court.

He dominated the sport like on else has ever done, and I don’t mean just basketball. Pick up any sport and it will be hard to find an equivalent of Jordan. A lot of people might come close, especially the great names mentioned earlier in this post. But there was no like him and it’s unlikely to see him getting dethroned from his pedestal for a long time to come. Even his reincarnated avatar might find it difficult to do so, he was that good. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Some see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” Jordan not only asked but probably redefined them as well.

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3 Responses to “Jordan is the GOAT”

  1. Aabhas Says:

    @HSB: You are absolutely right. We often miss out on the legend of Dhyan Chand when talking about all-time greats. The man was simply the best and it’s a pity how a lot of sports fans don’t get to read or hear too much about him. He definitely deserves to be spoken as highly as any other great athlete of all time.

    Thanks for pointing out the glaring omission.

  2. Russell Says:

    Thank god there is no mention of Sachin Tendulkar, who is more hype than substance, if only the gullible would understand. Way to go Aabhas!

  3. HSB Says:


    It is quite easy to forget one name since it had not gone much attention in the media, but I think he overshadows any name in the world of sports.

    Dhyan Chand.

    I am not a ardent sports fan so will not be able to quote statistics, but I am awaiting your inputs on this.



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