Much has been made of Michael Jordan’s offensive heroics over the years and rightfully so. With a cavalcade of memorable highlights spanning his career, it’s not surprising that they are permanently etched in people’s minds.
Of course, there was more to his game than just jaw dropping dunks, thrilling buzzer beaters and aerial acrobatics. Today we’re going to focus on often overlooked aspect of his hang time, shot blocking.
With a career total of 893 blocks, Michael is ranked #100 on the NBA’s list of career block leaders, which isn’t too shabby for a 6’6′ guard when you consider that Kobe Bryant (who is also 6’6 and a player many consider MJ’s equal) has played for eighteen seasons and has registered 620 blocks. Jordan only played thirteen seasons. Jordan also leads ALL guards in the statistic EVER! A fact well worthy of that exclamation point.
Now before the Kobe fans come after me, I’ll be fair and compare him to someone more renowned for their work on the defensive end. One of Jordan’s old ‘Bad Boy’ sparring partner’s and Bulls fan favourite, Dennis Rodman. The 6’7′ defense minded power forward played one more season than Jordan, but was only able to accrue 531 blocks. It should be noted that Rodman possessed a freakish level of athleticism also.
Another even more athletic forward known for his assaults at the rim, who has a penchant for chase down blocks, is the 6’8′ LeBron James. The Heat star has swatted away 675 shots in his eleven seasons in the league, so he’s on track to pass MJ if he plays another four or five years, remains healthy and averages between 53-55 blocks per season. In saying that, James’s total block output of this season was 26, Michael equalled that in his second last season… with the Wizards in 2001-02.
LeBron’s team mate Dwyane Wade also garners mention, his shot blocking style is probably the most similar to Jordan’s, maybe even a little sneakier in fact. Like MJ, he has a knack for catching his unaware opponent from behind and sending their shot flying. The 6’4′ Wade actually has more career blocks (696) than James and Kobe, which is an achievement in itself, but like James he also experienced a dramatic dip in the statistic this season. With his knee issues, it will be difficult for him to reach Jordan in the category when his career is all said and done.
If what you’ve read above isn’t proof enough that Michael Jordan is the greatest shot blocker of all time under the height of six foot six, then I urge you to watch the clips below to hammer the point home.
So lets start of with this one from his days at UNC. Now technically it’s a goal tend, but for the sake of this piece I’ll use it to demonstrate his defensive mindedness and impeccable timing . Besides, his gravity defying efforts causes him to bang his head on the backboard, don’t see that everyday.
People recall with fondness Michael’s “Is he big enough?” dunk on the Jazz’s 7’1′ big man Mel Turpin, but how about these two swats that came at Thurl Bailey’s expense? (December 2, 1987)
Yep, MJ dropped 54 points and recorded this solitary block on his future team mate Ron Harper (Nov 3, 1989)
Sure Michael hit plenty of game winners, but unlike some people *cough Reggie Miller cough*, Michael was no one trick pony. (April 11, 1992)
This video only has 639 views, it deserves more. Apologies to Tony Smith. #SorryHeatFansNotSorry
As much as he enjoyed dunking on the big men of the NBA, he also enjoyed denying them baskets whenever the opportunity presented itself. The scene of the crime, the O-rena in Orlando. The victim, Shaquille O’Neal. (1996 Playoffs)
We’ll round out proceedings with this two handed annihilation of Ron Mercer in the twilight of his Airness’s career. ‘Nuff said.