Standing at 6 feet 6 inches, weighing in at 216 pounds as a shooting guard, Jordan’s athleticism and swagger led to permanent changes in the game of basketball. His prowess took the spotlight off of basketball’s centers, and led to other positions scoring more often. Formerly, point guards and shooting guards would give the ball to the “big man”- power forward or center - and allow him space to score. Today, the centers and power forwards move out of the way so that shooting guards and point guards can drive down the lane and score. Derrick Rose, Thabo Sefolosha, and James Harden are examples of players who would have had less importance to basketball before Jordan’s reign.
"It used to be that behind every great center, there was a great guard to spread the court for him with his shooting and/or passing. There was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, John Stockton and Karl Malone, Willis Reed and Walt Frazier. The center to score at the rim and the guard to feed him the ball and score from outside. Now, the roles are a bit reversed. Centers and bigs are stepping away from the rim to draw their defensive counterparts with them away from the rim. Duncan is opening up the lane for Tony Parker, Carlos Boozer is opening up things for Derrick Rose and Chris Bosh is opening the way for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade." -- Kelly Scaletta, author on www.bleacherreport.com
Before 1984, the Most Valuable Player Award (MVP), was given to a center on all but three occasions, but is now most often given to point guards or shooting guards. During his 14 seasons as an NBA player, Jordan revolutionized the shooting guard position with his size and flare.
"Prior to Jordan, the game had been dominated by big men for virtually its entire history. The league's first MVP was awarded in 1956. From that time until Larry Bird won in 1983, the award had gone to a center all but two times. The only exceptions were Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson." -- Kelly Scaletta, author on www.bleacherreport.com
"'Michael made basketball relevant in Chicago' [Steve] Schanwald said. 'There was a level of prestige he gifted to us by his presence that endures. We created during that era millions of new basketball fans that prior to that time hadn't existed. Some of the fans that were on the fringes of interest became passionate fans.'" -- Chicago Tribune, September 10, 2009
"Not only do I admire Jordan's accomplishments and his phenomenal basketball ability, but also the way he has conducted himself on and off the court. I don't think there will ever be another player to have the same impact on the game of basketball as Michael Jordan.” -- Elgin Baylor, retired Hall of Fame NBA player.
“For the first 50 years of NBA history, the center was the most important position in basketball. Now it's become so obsolete it doesn't even merit its own spot on the ballot. So what happened? Michael Jordan happened. Jordan electrified the league, bringing unprecedented attention to the NBA. TV ratings exploded. For example, the four highest rated NBA Finals of all-time featured Jordan's Bulls. The highest rated of all-time came in 1998 with a rating of 18.7.” -- Kelly Scaletta, author on www.bleacherreport.com
Articles from the Chicago Tribune.
"LeBron James, the NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player: 'I remember when I first met him, I was speechless. I didn't have nothing to say. I had stage fright. It was like he was levitating or something, walking on water... Mike made everybody believe they could run and jump high. Mike made me work hard. I wanted to be on that stage and be able to do some of the things he did. He's the greatest basketball player ever to walk the face of the Earth. Michael Jordan's legacy speaks for itself.'" -- Chicago Tribune, September 10, 2009