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Dwyane Wade Talks NBA GOATs, But Has A Sobering Thought About Michael Jordan's Legacy

As the NBA commemorates its 75th anniversary this season, it’s hard not to look back on the numerous talents that have graced the league over the years. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, fans marveled at the skills of legends like Bill Russell, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain. They’d later be followed by others like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Of course, one all-time great that just about anyone, basketball fan or not, knows is Michael Jordan. Fellow veteran Dwyane Wade is among those who’s in awe of Jordan and the other icons of the game. However, during a recent discussion about the greats, he shared a sobering thought about the icon and others. 

Many of the aforementioned names have since been immortalized within the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Not only that, but many fans evoke their names when discussing both past and contemporary players during debates. (I can’t tell you how many lengthy b-ball discussions I had with my friends during my high school days.) But despite their immense talents, Dwyane Wade isn’t so sure how relevant names like Michael Jordan will be as time goes on:

I watch players play the game, and I’m like, ‘I thought I was good.’ They’re way better than me. … I mean, of course, these GOATs, these names that we throw out, it’s not just going to be a lot of those players. But the game continues to keep moving forward, so we’re going to continue to see things we’ve never seen before. And the eyes are going to get younger and younger. We’re not going to be the ones having a conversation about the GOATs. Now, it’s going to be the younger, younger, younger generation, and they’re going to forget about Jordan the way we forget about Kareem.

What Dwyane Wade seemed to be saying During his recent appearance on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast is that as more talent comes through the door, older names could fall by the wayside. To be honest, I can honestly see what he’s saying in some ways. The NBA is currently filled with talent, and the current crop of fans are likely more familiar with contemporary players and maybe only a handful of icons from the eras like the ‘60s and ‘70s. But could Michael Jordan actually be one of the stars to be forgotten as time goes on?

Michael Jordan Has Amassed An Immense List Of Accomplishments

By the time Michael Jordan entered the NBA in 1984, he’d already made a name for himself as a star player at the University of North Carolina. And it didn’t take long for him to make a splash with the Chicago Bulls, as he eventually received Rookie of the Year honors and others following his debut season. By the end of his career, he’d earned the NBA MVP award five times, been named to 14 All-Star teams and of course, won six championships with the Bulls – and earned the Finals MVP award during each title run. These accolades, believe it or not, don’t even scratch the surface of his impact, though. 

Much of his career was candidly captured in ESPN’s emmy-winning docuseries, The Last Dance, back in 2020. The show seemed to paint a picture of a highly competitive man, who aimed to be the best on the court while also showing off his good and “bad” sides. Though it received praise from many fans, the “so-called documentary” also earned backlash from some former players. Former Bull Scottie Pippen hasn’t minced words regarding his displeasure, even going so far as to say that his former teammate used it to “glorify” himself. He even claimed that the project was His Airness’ attempt “prove to the current generation of fans that he was larger-than-life during his day—and still larger than LeBron James.” Though fans can only debate the merits of that statement, it’s interesting in the context of the discussion at hand. 

Will Basketball Greats Like Michael Jordan Truly Be Forgotten As Time Goes On?

I’d agree with Dwyane Wade on the matter of some of the younger fans not being aware of older legends. As a Celtics fan, I’ve heard some modern-day enthusiasts discuss the likes of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Bill Russell. But you honestly don’t hear much about players like Dave Cowens and Jo Jo White. Nevertheless, I do believe that Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and others will live on. Quite frankly, they’re just a special crop of players who just happen to transcend the game. 

Dwyane Wade, along with his contemporaries like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul, will also likely be remembered for years to come. It’s true that the casual fan may not be totally aware of every player, but hardcore ones are sure to be well-versed in their history, ensuring that the legacies of certain players carry on.

Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.