He did more for the NBA in terms of marketing and global impact than any other player. He and Kobe are the most globally famous basketball players ever – and without Jordan honestly Kobe wouldn’t have existed really. Kobe’s whole career and marketing was based on Jordan’s. Jordan inspired and influenced an entire generation of players to ‘be like Mike’. He was like that other MJ (Michael Jackson) who transcended what they did. Globally, he was one of the most famous people on Earth. He was influential in the spread basketball worldwide. Countless numbers of players tried to copy his moves. And his shoes are another story.. of course he had the most successful line of sports shoes ever and that also transcended basketball too. Now even K-pop stars are wearing Jordans.
He influenced a generation of players who tried to be flashy like him, without learning the fundamentals. Jordan himself lamented this. All you see on the highlights are Jordan’s dunks and fadeaways, but behind all that was great basketball IQ, athleticism and fundamentals too. The generation of players after Jordan – KG, Kobe, Tmac, Vince Carter, Iverson etc all tried too much to be like Mike in a way and ended up being much more inefficient players who too often tried to be selfish, flashy and play iso 1v1 basketball instead of being like a team player. They were basically playing basketball like a pickup game instead of like a team game. Jordan was so much more than his 1v1 iso moments but young fans only grew up on his highlights and that’s the negative impact he had on the game.
The other thing is Jordan’s generation of players who went into the NBA in the 80s and 90s were mostly all polished from years of college. They came into the game NBA ready. The generation of late 90s and early 2000s players came from high school and were not polished – they were very raw players. With the exception of Lebron (who was an anomaly) none of the other high school players were NBA ready. So they ended up not knowing much about the fundamentals of the game. That’s part of the reason why that whole early 2000s era was so slow paced, is because of all the inefficient shot selections, all the iso 1v1 play, ball hogging and trying to show off etc from the younger NBA guys. That’s the negative impact Jordan had. As a result, the international players started to catch up to the US players culminating in the 2004 Olympics where the inexperienced American players were beat by international players. The international players had learned to play basketball with fundamentals and team play while the American players had regressed. The Spurs knew what was going on and started drafting more international players.
Thankfully, Kobe’s influence and impact on today’s generation of players seems to be more limited and they took the good things about Kobe (his work ethic and mentality) without the bad parts of Kobe (his shot selection and ball hogging tendencies). Today’s players are much more efficient, better shooters, better team players and combined with the softer defense we see a faster paced higher scoring game compared to the early 2000s.