First of all, I am going to clear this up: young Michael Jordan (1985-1993) was one of the greatest defensive guards in history. He in on the short list of greatest defensive guards, along with Walt Frazier, Sidney Moncrief, K.C. Jones, and Joe Dumars. Jordan's only weakness was being posted up. Magic Johnson exploited this in games 1 and 2 of the 1991 Finals. After putting 3 fouls on Jordan in the first half of game 2, Phil Jackson opted to move Pippen over to guard Magic and put Jordan on James Worthy. Fortunately for Jordan and Jackson, Worthy was playing on a sprained ankle, which eliminated his dominance (he had 3 inches on Jordan, and he was the guy who dropped 42 points on Dennis Rodman in Game 7 of the 1988 finals).
Young Jordan was an exceptional ball defender and he was the very best player of his era at roaming the passing lanes.
There, it's out. He was a very good defender. I don't have any problems with his 1988 defensive player of the year award and his 6 first-team all defense awards up that point.
However, after that, he was a very overrated defender. He got old and lost a step and it showed. It happens to everybody, but Jordan's fans couldn't accept it. Let me give examples.
In 1995 and 96, Clyde Drexler and Anfernee Hardaway continued giving Jordan problems when they posted up on him. That is undertandable as they were bigger than Jordan. However, Jordan's lost a step on his quickness and in 1996, Pooh Richardson lit up Jordan...Pooh Richardson. Damon Stoudamire had his way with Jordan that year (Stoudamire's rookie season). While Stoudamire was very quick, Phil Jackson's answer to him spoke volumes about Jordan: Phil put Scottie Pippen on Stoudamire. Jordan was so slow that a 6'7" 225 lb FORWARD was Jackson's answer to a guard. Phil began opting to put Ron Harper on the other team's better offensive guard. Jordan fanatics claim this was "resting" Jordan for offense. No, this is called "rationalizing." Young Jordan guarded the other team's best guard AND lit up his opponents for 32+ PPG. Old Jordan simply could not guard the best guards any more (remember when he got caught in the switch with Allen Iverson the next year and how bad Iverson made him look?) .
What was truly sad was that Jordan continued making first team all-defense, but Ron Harper did not. Jordan wasn't even the best defensive guard on his own team any more. He didn't deserve those accolades.
Sour Grapes? Dream on. Undeserving Accolades aren't uncommon to Jordan. Remember the 2002 All-Star game? The fans vote and they DON'T want to see old Jordan. They don't name him a starter. If Jordan deserved it, the coaches, who pick the reserves, would name him a reserve. Instead, they too, pass on Jordan. Then, the media starts crying for Vince Carter to give up his starting job to Jordan and apply pressure until Carter gives in. The fans didn't want to see Jordan and the coaches knew he wasn't good enough, but he still makes it, because the media wants to see him.
And then there's the 1988
dunk contest. It's just sad how we have to manufacture our heroes