Over the years, basketball fanatics have argued over who the greatest player of all time is. Although players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Magic Johnson are all in the conversation, the one player that elucidated greatness was Michael Jordan.
Indeed, it’s tough to differentiate players from different eras. But defining greatness is assessing how dominant the player was over the course of his career. Michael Jeffrey Jordan hoisted five MVP trophies, was named to 10 All-NBA First Teams (known as the best five players in the NBA) and won six NBA Champinoships. However, what truly separated Jordan from the rest was his defensive prowess. He illustrated this by being securing nine All-NBA Defensive First Team selections in his amazing career.
Though Wilt Chamberlain once scored 100 points in a game and Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s the all-time scoring leader with 38,387 points, Jordan is still the greatest scorer we’ve ever seen. He boasted an incredible 30.1 points per game, while winning a record of 10 scoring titles.
While no player is deserving a comparison to His Airness, these 15 players were once thought to be the “next” Michael Jordan. Though some players on this list are surefire first ballot Hall of Famers, some never lived up to the hype.
15. Grant Hill
Had it not been for injuries, could Grant Hill have lived up to the lofty expectations that were put on him to be the next Michael Jordan? We’ll never know the answer to this question, but we’d doubt it, as no one else has been able to reach those expectations.
After being drafted out of Duke, where the comparison began due to his prolific play, with the 3rd overall pick in 1994, the first half of Hill’s career looked promising. Unfortunately, he was extremely injury prone in the second half of his career and he only played more than 80 games six times in his illustrious NBA career.
In his 19-year career, Hill posted career averages of 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists per game, while making seven All-Star appearances.
14. Michael Finley
After Michael Finley dazzled Michael Jordan in a one-on-one contest in high school that left Jordan fascinated, Jordan was quoted as saying that the two would meet again in the NBA down the road. In the end, Finley was drafted 21st overall in the 1995 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns.
Following his rookie season, Finley was traded to the Dallas Mavericks on December 26th, 1996 in a package deal for Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd. Jordan was right about meeting Finley in the NBA, but the former Badgers star was another flop that had a good NBA career, but failed to live up to the expectations that Jordan set for him.
In his 15-year career, Michael Finley averaged 15.7 points per game, appeared in two All-Star games and was an NBA Champion with the San Antonio Spurs in 2007.
13. Jerry Stackhouse
A lethal scorer scorer out of North Carolina, Jerry Stackhouse failed to live up to expectations as the next MJ. Though Stackhouse had a solid career, he never won a scoring title or an NBA Championship. So where’s the comparison? Well, Stackhouse did attend the University of North Carolina just like Michael, but that’s where the similarities end.
Though Stackhouse falls in the category of pretenders, he did put together a good career for himself with two All-Star appearances and he now serves as one of the assistant coaches for the Toronto Raptors. On September 9th, 2016, the Raptors promoted Stackhouse to become the head coach for Raptors 905, the franchise’s NBA developmental team.
Stackhouse posted 16.9 points and 3.3 assists per game in his 18-year career.
12. Tracy McGrady
During his illustrious 16-year NBA career, Tracy McGrady won the NBA scoring title twice and was similar to Jordan athletically, but MJ was a multiple-time NBA Champion, while T-Mac struggled to get out of the first round at his peak with the Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets.
McGrady stormed straight out of high school in 1997 and quickly established himself as a scoring threat who was nearly unstoppable on the offensive side. His deficiency on the defensive end, injury issues and lack of postseason success negated some of his Jordan comparisons, though that didn’t stop people from making the comparison.
One has to wonder if T-Mac had stayed healthy his entire career, could he have been the closest player to Michael Jordan? We doubt it, but like with Grant Hill, there’s no way to say for sure.
The seven-time All-Star averaged 19.6 points per game before retiring at the end of the 2013 NBA season.
11. Harold Miner
Living up to any nickname after the greatest player of all-time is certainly hard to overcome and Harold Miner couldn’t live up to the “Baby Jordan” nickname he received in high school due to his dunking ability. Heck, MJ’s own kids couldn’t even succeed at the collegiate level. While at USC, Miner became the school’s all-time leading scorer, led the Trojans to a No. 2 seed in the 1992 NCAA Tournament and won the Sports Illustrated College Basketball Player of the Year award, over rising superstar Shaquille O’Neal and Duke’s Christian Laettner.
After being drafted by the Miami Heat 12th overall in the 1992 NBA Draft, Harold “Baby Jordan” Miner attempted to live up to his nickname by winning the NBA Slam dunk Contest in 1993 and 1995. Sadly, those were the highlights of the explosive dunker’s career.
Miner’s head coach at USC George Raveling divulged, “I always felt the worst thing to happen to Harold was the Baby Jordan tag.” He was right.
In his short stint in the NBA, Miner played for the Heat for three seasons and one season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging only 9.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.