Is Michael Jordan the player Michael Jordan thinks he is?
“I don’t think I would lose — other than to Kobe Bryant, because he steals all my moves,” Michael Jordan said.
That’s how Air responded when asked how’d he fair in one-on-one games against Jerry West (seriously?), Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
No one does arrogant better than Mike. But he’s right. Right?
I think so. But I figured I’d show my work. To confirm Jordan’s place as the head-to-head king, I’ve run a hypothetical one-on-one tournament involving all eight players.
Yes, it’s a slow news week — except for the MLB Playoffs. I meant it’s slow for the popular sports.
Michael Jordan (1) def. Jerry West (8)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist foolishly admitted to losing a game of one-on-one to a 49-year-old Jordan last year. With all due respect, I’m not sure a prime West could step to Kidd-Gilchrist today and get a win.
Advantage goes to Jordan, who will beat up West worse than he did Steve Kerr — look it up.
Kobe Bryant (2) def. Elgin Baylor (7)
Laker-on-Laker crime is the best. I could be discrediting the legend here, but Baylor did his damage during the 1960s. He’s a more complete and less athletic Nick Young in 2013.
Baylor scores more on Kobe than Bow Wow did. He will score a point, to be exact.
LeBron James (3) def. Carmelo Anthony (6)
You can smooth talk me into Anthony here until I solve the equation Melo is still wracking his brain over: good offense + good “x” = great basketball player.
“Hair? Arm sleeves? Tattoos? Hats?” said a flustered Anthony.
Defense. “X” is defense. James punishes him.
Julius Erving (4) def. Dwyane Wade (5)
If anyone is that dude, Erving is that dude. The matchup is interesting, though. Wade has always been more of an opportunistic team defensive player than a lockdown man defender. He’s got too much size and hypnotic skill to overcome against Doc.
Jordan (1) def. Erving (4)
Erving rattled off an unusual all-time starting lineup while on the soon-to-be cancelled “Fox Sports Live” earlier this month. He chose to exclude Jordan from the five-man rotation.
If we know anything about Jordan, we can assume he’s watched the clip several thousand times while taking violent cigar rips. As his sociopathic Hall of Fame speech suggests, MJ will probably treat this as a blood feud going forward.
Scratching Sir Michael’s arm was enough to send him into a fit of rage during his playing days. Erving might as well have killed Jordan’s entire family. Mike moves on.
James (3) def. Bryant (2)
Not an outcome I would have pegged a couple years ago. James’ best is now better than Kobe’s best. He’s evolved into the player we all hoped he’d be ever since he risked his amateur status by accepting a demure, fully loaded 2003 Hummer H2 in high school.
James will give Bryant hell on defense. Bryant will try all his tricks, hissing and talking trash in Italian.
In the end, James’ dribble drives and post play give him the edge most nights. This is one of those nights.
Jordan (1) def. James (3)
A matchup so big MTV would resurrect “The Shop” for a one-off episode dedicated to the “Jordan vs. James” debate. That’s the best way I can frame it to establish the significance.
We made it through “Chris Brown vs. Honorable Human Beings” and “Kimmel vs. Kanye” with no “Shop” revival, so this is unchartered territory.
Jordan will hug his children, kiss his wife, and take a few more strides in his favorite pair of oversized jeans. Then he will go to war. After kicking out of multiple finishers and taking a dozen unprotected chair shots to the head, he will win.
Moments later, he will evaporate. Jordan’s legacy is complete.
And as one last “eff you” to Erving, he’ll leave Doc his majority ownership share of the Charlotte Bobcats.