Michael Jordan Named 1988 Defensive Player of the Year
Michael Jordan is remembered for many of his achievements. NBA Championships, team ownership, and scoring titles are the “sexy” categories of what he’s managed to pull off, but for tonight’s Sneaker News: Was It The Shoes?, we’ll focus on one the true unsung hero of Michael’s unparalleled game – Defense. The phrase “defense wins championships” is a resounding truth across all professional sports (even you, SlamBall), and the lack thereof is unquestionably the primary criticism of the NBA stars of the current generation. Let’s take a look back at Jordan’s Defensive legacy!
The landscape of NBA Defense has undergone some significant changes. The most notable, of course, was the implementation of Zone Defense which was primarily aimed at containing Shaquille O’neal during an era when serviceable and sizable NBA Centers were few and far in-between. Zone Defense eventually led to an overall lax approach to man-to-man defense, so while guys like Vince Carter, Carmelo Anthony, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, and even LeBron James were creating legends of themselves with their offensive output, they were mediocre-at-best on the opposite end of the floor. So while the Pistons won an improbable Championship in 2004 with team D, man-to-man defense was a lost art, and quite frankly, that explains why the aforementioned Carter/Anthony/McGrady/Iverson cluster has zero championships. Some NBA analysts will postulate that LeBron didn’t get his first Championship until his defense stepped up.
So what about Michael? Where does Defense fit in with his 6 NBA Titles? The flat out truth is that Michael Jordan was one of the best defensive players in the game. He was an intimidator on both ends of the floor, and his tenacity and relentless pursuit of the basketball led him to be one of the most prolific thieves in NBA history. Not to say his efforts on D went unrecognized – he was named to nine consecutive NBA All-Defensive First Teams from 1988 to 1998 (a three-year hiatus due to retirement and that shortened ’95 season).