The Player That Reminds Me the Most of Michael Jordan
**SPOILER ALERT** Russell Westbrook has been on a tear this season, shattering the triple-double record along the way. All the while, in looking at and more closely appreciating his game, is he the closest thing we have ever seen to “His Airness?”
Michael Jordan is the greatest player to ever touch a basketball and that is something that can not be debated. However, there have been several things debated ever since “His Airness” hung up the sneakers, with the most popular being “Who is the next best?” or “ Who is the most Jordanesque” . While they may seem like one in the same, if you really think about it, they are not the same questions. While the former asked “Who is the next best player?”, there are many debates that try to answer that question, with most ending with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, or some iteration of the two. The latter actually asks about the “Jordanesque” factor, or who most closely resembles “MJ”. This to me is what separates the questions as there are several factors that go into answering it, but the one that most closely resembles “His Airness” may surprise you.
“Michael Jeffrey Jordan” was a slasher/penetrator at heart who developed the mid range to outside jump-shot as he progressed throughout his career, developed his game, and had to rely on the outside shot more as a part of this development. Although we see the gatorade commercial where he shoves off and nails the jumper with extreme ease, he wasn’t always so “deadeye.” Not that he wasn’t always an adequate shooter, but the point here is that he would have rather gotten into the lane to make things happen earlier on in his career. Plain and simply, as his game expanded, so did his range.
In the “triangle”, and especially with the way that Phil Jackson would employ it with his teams, the point guard was important — but it really wasn’t. Whoever his star was, in our situation MJ (who was also a pretty good playmaker), was the guy who the plays were designed and exectued around. In today’s era of NBA basketball, MJ would most likely handle the ball 70–85 percent of the time for his team. So MJ was a ball dominant, scoring guard, who wanted to drive the lane but could shoot, progressively becoming good at it throughout his career.
I can’t hold it in any longer. Fresh off a record setting 42nd triple double that broke “The Big O’s” record, Russell Westbrook is the closest thing we have seen to Jordan. After you pick yourself up off the floor and resume your reading, think back to what we discussed in the beginning. Deep breaths.
The discussion in the beginning was that the best since or next best and the most “jordanesque” are totally different things. While LeBron (Kobe for some lunatics and something for another time) may be the second greatest player to ever play, the player that most closely resembles the way Michael Jordan played the game is Russell Westbrook.
“Russ” is a furious and aggressive driver, that would rather take you with him to the rim as oppose to go around you. Michael Jordan had this same pension or knack when he drove, although he found himself often going over the top of opponents (see number 5 in above MJ highlight video). Russell Westbrook has also came into the league and progressively year by year become a better outside shooter, to the point where you could now call him pretty good, evident in his game winner versus the Nuggets on Sunday. Lastly, and although Kobe Bryant has this aspect as well, there is no person that I think will go as far as Jordan to win at basketball other than Russell Westbrook. I believe that MJ and “The Force” alike would both trip their own granny's if it meant winning a ball game, figuratively, I think.
Some will again point to Kobe, and more specifically the fade-away jump-shot Kobe had in the repertoire, but this was a bit of a farce. Kobe looked like “MJ” when he did certain things, but their games were completely different. MJ was a penetrator while Kobe was an out and out shooter first. Michael Jordan was a slasher who could shoot, while Kobe was a shooter who could drive. Lastly, Kobe shot from the outside, while using the famous pump fake to drive, while MJ often used the threat of the drive to get space for his outside shot.
Aside from the fact that they both share similar all around games and playing styles, developed their games in similar fashions, and share a fire hot passion for the game unlike any other, what else is there? Think about what is being said, or asked here, as it really helps to clarify things. No matter what you think, when thinking about the player that most resembles the way “His Airness” did it, Russell Westbrook has to head that list, or you just aren’t thinking right.