Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
On Friday night, Michael Jordan reminded us that he was the most competitive and likely the greatest all-around player the NBA has ever seen.
But not in his final two seasons. When he last left the court, Jordan wasn't the best player in the world of basketball, not even in the top-five. He finished his career in 2002-03 with the Washington Wizards and averaged "just" 20.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 3.8 apg.
Not bad, but not the "MJ" that we fans and fantasy owners had come to know and love.
The Jordan we came to expect, led the league in scoring 10 times. He came into the league in 1984-85 and immediately put up spectacular scoring numbers. "His Airness" opened his rookie season with a 28.2 ppg scoring average and then after a lost season due to injury began a run of seven consecutive scoring titles averaging more than 30 points a game.
After an aborted baseball career, he won three more scoring titles (and three more rings for a total of six) from 1995-96 through 1997-98.
Jordan was also a stats filler because being on the floor for almost 40 minutes-per-game allowed him to average 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg and 2.3 spg. And he was durable too. He played in 78-or-more regular season games in 12 of 15 years. He was also the No.1 fantasy pick for all those years.
At the beginning of the piece I said he was "likely" the greatest all-around player ever. That's because I'm old enough to have seen Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain.
They might be the only players capable of knocking Jordan from the top spot.
The "Big O" averaged 25.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 9.5 apg over his 14-year career. He led the league in scoring just once, but topped the assist chart in seven seasons. Robertson also put up one remarkable statistical season in 1961-62 when he averaged a "triple-double" for the season (30.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 11.4 apg).
Robertson could do it all and it would have been interesting to watch a matchup between he and Jordan. Jordan was faster and more athletic, but Robertson was the stronger of the two. Both were mentally unbeatable.
Chamberlain, was simply the most imposing physical basketball player of all time. At 7'1" and 275 lbs, he forced the NBA to make rules changes just to limit his dominance. Despite that, Chamberlain averaged 30.1 ppg, 22.9 rpg and 4.4 apg over his 16-year career. His career included a couple of seasons that are hard to imagine. Think about having your fantasy center average 50.4 ppg and 25.7 rpg as Chamberlain did in 1961-62 or 44.8 ppg and 24.3 rpg as he did the following season. You want versatility, in 1967-68 he decided he wanted to league the league in assists and did just that with 702 that season.
But Chamberlain and Robertson played before the fantasy world was created, making Jordan the best all-around fantasy player ever.