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While Michael Jordan is considered the greatest basketball player in the NBA, there were many upcoming players throughout the years that were considered the next MJ. Although many burned out or never lived up to the hype, there were others that upheld the tag to be one of the best in the NBA. Here are 12 basketball players who were, at one time, considered to be the next Michael Jordan.
- Len Bias. Sadly, we will never know Len Bias’ full potential in the NBA because he died of a drug overdose a few days after the Boston Celtics drafted him in 1986. He was named ACC Player of the Year just like Michael Jordan, while the two squared off against each other in college.
- Harold Miner. His nickname was “Baby Jordan” in college at USC because he was a dynamic and explosive dunker. However, he never lived up to the hype in the NBA, as an all-round player or scorer. The closest he ever got to MJ status was winning the Slam Dunk Contest, like Michael Jordan, in 1993.
- Grant Hill. He was drafted #3 during the 1994 NBA Draft and for the first half of his career it looked like he could be the heir to Michael Jordan’s legacy. Unfortunately, he was very injury prone and never had the same explosiveness as a basketball player in the latter half of his career.
- Stephon Marbury. It looked like the Minnesota Timberwolves had a superstar on their hands when they drafted Stephon Marbury at #4 in the 1996 NBA Draft, but his ego got in the way of his gameplay. He clashed with Kevin Garnett, who was drafted the year before, and was traded shorty after to the New Jersey Nets. Now he plays in China at age 37.
- Dwayne Wade. During the early half of his career, Dwayne Wade won three NBA Championships with the Miami Heat, as his game resembled Michael Jordan. However, Wade is on the back-half of his career, as he starting to look slower and older. While he has half of the NBA Championships as Michael Jordan, he won’t have the same stats when he retires.
- Jerry Stackhouse. Both players went to the University of North Carolina and played the same position, but that’s where the similarities end. Jerry Stackhouse had a very solid NBA, but he never won an NBA Championship or a scoring title.
- Vince Carter. When he entered the NBA with the Toronto Raptors, Vince Carter was dubbed “Air Canada,” as an homage to Michael Jordan. While he had the same kind of explosiveness and game as MJ, he never solidified himself as a champion or great basketball player.
- Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Penny Hardaway was an athletic and dynamic basketball player with the Orlando Magic. During his first two seasons with the team, they were one of the best in the Eastern Conference. The Magic even surpassed the Bulls to the NBA Final in 1995, but lost to the Houston Rockets. Sadly, injuries got the best of Penny and he was never the same player again.
- Kobe Bryant. This Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar actually surpassed Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list, but Kobe Bryant only has five NBA titles, while MJ has six. Kobe Bryant has yet to retire, so he could get his sixth ring before he retires, but with the way the LA Lakers look today, I wouldn’t be so sure that he’d return to the NBA Finals anytime soon.
- Tracy McGrady. T-Mac won the NBA Scoring Title twice during his 16 years in the NBA. His game grew over the years, but hit his peak in the early 2000s with the Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic. McGrady’s game was very similar to Michael Jordan, but MJ was an NBA Champion, while T-Mac never got out of the first round of the NBA Playoffs as a starter. He did manage to get the NBA Finals with the San Antonio Spurs in 2013, but McGrady sat on the bench as a third unit player.
- LeBron James. While LBJ only has two NBA Championships under his belt, he’s probably the closest to Michael Jordan on this list, in terms of celebrity and impact. He left the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010 and the team floundered. He then left the Miami Heat in 2014 and the team is struggling to stay above 500. LeBron James is one of the greatest players in the NBA today, while he has the luxury not to be in the league during Michael Jordan’s reign as His Airness.
- Derrick Rose. D-Rose is an athletic and explosive point guard, but his tag as “the next Michael Jordan” comes from his status as the next superstar on the Chicago Bulls. While Derrick Rose is young, he has one league MVP title and no championship rings in the Windy City. Hopefully, he could bring the NBA title back home to Chicago.
Do you think any of these players lived up to the hype? Who were other basketball players considered to be the next Michael Jordan?