How Michael Jordan’s Jump Shot enabled his Greatness
Michael Jordan was never a great shooter in high school, college or his early NBA years. He received the same criticism Lebron James gets for not being such a strong shooter, even though their respective field goal percents are off-the-charts considering the high volume shooting and offensive load each carry. Jordan over time used the negativity to put and keep himself in the gym and work on his greatest perceived weakness and throughout his career, he became a better, smarter and more effective shooter from the mid-range and beyond.
One of the most overlooked aspects of Jordan’s shot and his game is that he didn’t pop as many 3s as other elite scorers before and after him. When Kirk Hinrich overtakes you for the most 3-point field goals made in Chicago Bulls history in just his 5th season as a Bull, that’s when you realize that Jordan was an assassin because he was always literally in the defense’s grill beneath the 3-point line and yet when he needed to make big shots from beyond the arc, he did just that. Like that Detroit game-winner in the late 80s. Or the 6 treys against Portland.
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And for someone who was always aggressive inside the 3-point line, whether in the post or in isolation, he played a physical game which demanded double teams and physical play from defenders leading to many trips to the free throw line where he always converted at over 80% throughout his career. Sometimes, he even made them with his eyes closed.
People will never remember Jordan for his jump shot, but for the shots he took that tattooed themselves in our mind’s highlights. His jump shooting ability made the countless drives to the rim, finished by acrobatic layups and dunks, possible. If his fadeaway jumpers and turnarounds from post ups had patents, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Tracy Mcgrady would all be paying millions in royalties to his Airness. Of course, Jordan himself stole some of these moves from his jump shooting predecessors so really, it wasn’t Jordan’s originality that lured us to him, but his consistent dominance using those skills for as long as he did, against the competition and Jordan Rules he faced and the stubbornness to stick to these shots when coaches and teammates often pleaded for the ball; all of these traits is what made Jordan’s jump shot and Jordan himself a lethal force on offense.