Michael Jordan won basically all there is to win in his basketball career. He won a college title, six NBA championships, and two Olympic gold medals. Not surprisingly with that many accolades, he faced a bunch of legends over the years. To try and get a picture of how many great players he defeated in his career, here is a team of some of the best players Jordan and his teams took down.
Point guard: Magic Johnson (1991 NBA Finals)
The Lakers were a little past their Showtime highs in 91 when the Jordan and the Bulls took them down for their first title, but Magic was still great. In the Lakers’ run to the Finals that year, he averaged 21.8 points, 12.6 assists, and 8.1 rebounds per game. The rebounds were 0.2 behind Sam Perkins, but he led LA in the other two categories. During the finals themselves, Johnson had two triple doubles. In one, he recorded 20 assists in a losing effort in game five.
Shooting guard: Clyde Drexler (1992 NBA Finals and 1982 Final Four)
A story line going into the ‘92 Finals that seems crazy in retrospect was the battle between Jordan and Drexler over who was better. That debate lasted about a half, maybe. Jordan notoriously went for 39 points in game one, hitting six threes in the first half, as well as famously shrugging.
Jordan’s averaged 35.8 points on 52.6% shooting in the ‘92 finals. Drexler’s stats for that series weren’t bad, but they weren’t...that.
Small forward: Dominique Wilkins (1988 Slam Dunk Contest)
Beating a man nicknamed “The Human Highlight Reel” in a dunk contest is pretty good.
Power forward: Charles Barkley (1993 NBA Finals)
Barkley got the nod as NBA MVP in 1993. Part of that was due to the fact that Barkley was good that season. Averaging 25 and 12 on a 62 win team is going to get you in the conversation. However, a large part of it was also probably due to voter fatigue. Jordan had won the award the previous two seasons, and voters were probably willing to jump on board with something new. Barkley played well when the Bulls and Suns met in the NBA Finals, going for 27 and 13 a game. However, Jordan scored 41 points per game and led Chicago to a win in six games. He probably should have been MVP that season.
Center: Patrick Ewing (1982 NCAA championship game, various playoff series)
Jordan got the last laugh when UNC beat Georgetown in the 1982 championship game, but Ewing was probably the more notable freshman that season. The Hoyas’ center averaged 12.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks as a freshman, but the Tar Heels got them in the championship game. Their NBA playoff meetings didn’t go much better for Ewing.
Karl Malone and John Stockton (1997, 1998 NBA Finals)
Malone had a similar arc to Barkley when he won MVP in 1997. His team went into the finals against Jordan, who probably thought he should have won it. Needless to say, Jordan and the Bulls got their revenge in the finals. Malone also had to deal with losing the finals to them again the next season.
Stockton didn’t have the stigma of getting MVP over Jordan, but he took those losses all the same.
Hakeem Olajuwon (1982 Final Four)
Just two years before being taken ahead of Jordan in the 1984 NBA Draft, Olawjuwon played 20 minutes off the bench as UNC beat Houston to advance to the national championship game. The Houston center scored just two points and got six rebounds, but he ended up having a pretty decent career.
Dan Majerle (1993 NBA Finals)
“Thunder Dan” had made two all-NBA defensive teams when he was tasked with guarding Jordan in the ‘93 finals. That...didn’t work.
Isiah Thomas (1991 Eastern Conference Finals)
Thomas and the Bad Boy Pistons were notoriously thorns in the Bulls’ side in the late 80s and early 90s. When Chicago did finally breakthrough and beat them, Thomas and several other Pistons famously walked off the court rather than shake hands with the Bulls at the final buzzer.
Drazen Petrovic (1992 Olympics)
To give a slight nod to Jordan’s time with the Dream Team, we’ll include Petrovic. The Croatian star led his team with 24 points in a losing effort in the Gold Meal final against the US. He sadly passed away less than a year later.
Blanko (Toon Squad vs. Monstars)
Despite being a giant alien with the ability of Shawn Bradley, Blanko put up a disappointing performance again Jordan’s Toon Squad. He finished with zero points, zero rebounds, zero assists, and zero blocks. He was also completely crossed up by both Lola Bunny and Bill Murray in the sequence that led to Jordan’s winning dunk.
All data courtesy of Basketball Reference, Sports Reference, and this.