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How Michael Jordan Killed the Game - by CoachRB

The most recognizable name in the history of basketball is Michael Jordan. There is not a corner of the world where the mention of "Michael" raises eyebrows. As much as Air Jordan has given to the game, is it possible that he is also responsible for killing the game?

Michael Jordan was cut from his team as a young player. From that day on he committed himself to be the best he could possibly be. The incomparable drive in Jordan is legendary. His ability to score, dunk, play defense, and win are unmatched. Of all of the traits he possesses, his competitive spirit may be his best attribute. Nothing gets in the way between Jordan and success.

When Michael Jordan hit his peak in the late 1980's, it was obvious to the world that he would lead his Chicago Bulls to Celtic-like success. The result was an incredible 6 NBA titles under Coach Phil Jackson. Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Bill Cartwright, John Paxson, and Dennis Rodman represented an unbeatable combination of skill, tenacity, and competitiveness. Jordan, the prince of late game heroics, was the magnet that made everything flow in the same direction.

Air Jordan Nike-brand shoes have been sold by the millions. The shoe reflects his game. Smooth, sleek, powerful, and explosive. Some will remember that Michael became a good shooter only after years of developing his stroke due to his drive for perfection. In the end it was his ability to put the ball on the floor that made him unstoppable. His drives were strong, quick, and acrobatic. His ability to get to the basket forced the Detroit Pistons to establish an elaborate set of "Jordan Rules" in an attempt to slow him down. Nothing slowed Michael Jordan down.

The Michael Jordan phenomenon created basketball phrases new to the game. Players everywhere worked on their ability to "put it on the floor" or "get to the rim". How many times have you heard "And 1" as a shot is taken off the dribble drive? Scoring off the dribble slowly became the preferred mode of scoring points in the NBA. As with many popular trends, "the bounce" became the skill that dominated individual practice activity. Players from the NBA down to grade school worked to perfect their ball skills and driving ability.

With the advent of Michael's slashing to the rim, players all over the world perfected this skill through practice. Was all of this activity good for the game? Not only did it focus on dribbling and driving, it was a blow to the jump shot. Since the glory days of Michael Jordan the art of shooting has steadily declined. Shooting percentages have been on the decline for years now. Pitiful free throw percentages are seen in the NBA, College, and high school levels. Kids are growing up without the ability to consistently shoot the ball. Certainly it is not fair to blame Jordan for this, but with fame comes responsibility. His fame was so enormous that if he had started to make half court hook shots, kids in every gym in America would have worked tirelessly to do the same.

The problem with the dribble drive is that every second spent on it takes seconds away from shooting jump shots. If repetition produces mastery, lack of repetition equals mediocrity. Shooters are not born they are made. They are made from hours of sweat, hard work, and thousands of shots. Gyms no longer are filled with jump shooting gym rats. Where did all the gym rats go?

Walk into most gyms these days and you will see kids lined up at the three point line. They hang around this line not to shoot, but to drive to the rim to attempt the dunk. Most kids have no chance to dunk, let alone touch the rim. Yet visions of SportsCenter dunks are still fresh in their mind. They spend hours trying to dunk it just one time. What a waste of time most coaches would tell you. Why? Games are not won on the drive and dunk. They are won with toughness, fundamentals, and shooting. Yes, I said shooting.

Our kids must fall in love once again with the jump shot. No matter how great the slam dunk is, it will never put three points on the scoreboard like the popular three point shot. Both the drive and the jump shot have their place in the great game of basketball. They can survive together in balance. Lets open the door and invite the passion for shooting back in the gym.



Randy Brown has passion for the game of basketball. He works as a basketball consultant and mentor for coaches. Visit him at www.coachrb.com for free resources, Q & A, newsletter, and coaching programs. A speaker and writer, he has authored 75 articles on coaching and is nationally published. His 18 years in college basketball highlights a successful 23-year career. Mentored by Basketball Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson at Arizona. Resume includes positions at Arizona, Iowa State, Marquette, Drake, and Miami of Ohio, 5 Conference Championships and 5 NCAA apprearances. His efforts have helped develop 12 NBA players including Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott, and Jaamal Tinsley. To contact Randy, email him at rb@coachrb.com.

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