"An ordinary player" - Legendary European coach claimed MJ would have averaged 16 points per game in Europe

michael-jordan-1988

Not many people criticized Michael Jordan when he started collecting scoring titles, MVP trophies, and NBA championships. When he was in his prime, MJ was already a sporting legend and a pop culture icon.

But as always, when your star gets brighter, a growing minority will question your skills and status. Such critics do not believe the hype. Some of them even want to pull you down from the pedestal.

While Jordan was the world's best player in the 1990s, the great international basketball coach Bozidar Maljkovic claimed Michael would have been an ordinary player if he had played in Europe.

Jordan can’t hang with European ball?

“Salley tells that as soon as they were introduced, Maljkovic told him that Michael Jordan (with whom the power forward had just been champion) was ‘an ordinary player’ and that ‘in Europe, he would average 16 points per game,’” Pearlman wrote.

While a handful of European players, such as Detlef Schrempf, Rik Smits, Vlade Divac, and Dražen Petrović, made it to the NBA, it was only in the 2000s that they truly made their mark.

Maljkovic might have looked at Jordan’s stats in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, where he averaged just 12.7 points across six games. But judging MJ’s performance in that tourney is unfair as the roster was packed with legends like Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and more. Scoring didn’t need to be his priority.

Nevertheless, Jordan scored at will when it mattered the most. Michael's best scoring performance came in the gold medal game against Croatia, where he dropped 22 points.

Lover turned hater?

Interestingly, the European coach did not hold the same opinions about MJ in 1982 when Michael was still with North Carolina. Maljkovic called Jordan the 'best basketball player of all time' after seeing him play in an exhibition game.

“He is, without a doubt, the best basketball player of all time,” Maljkovic said, per Slobodna Dalmacija. "I first saw him sometime in 1982, when he played for University North Carolina against Red Star Belgrade, where I was the assistant coach. And after the game, I told one of the journalists that I had just seen the best player in the world, and he replied, 'Jordan, who? Haven't you seen Wilt Chamberlain's footage?' But I insisted that Jordan was the best, which later proved to be true.”

Did Salley lie about his encounter with Maljkovic? After all, the former NBA power forward is known for fabricating or exaggerating basketball stories. Or did Bozidar's thoughts on Michael change over the years? Either way, Jordan playing in Europe, where the playstyle relies more on team effort than individual talent, is an interesting thought that would have been fun to watch.

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