How to Play Like Michael Jordan: Learn From the Best Minds in Sports

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If you’re a basketball fan and someone asks you who the best winner in the sport is, the name that often comes to mind is Michael Jordan. Although other champions are in the conversation– Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Magic Johnson, to name a few– Jordan developed a persona of a true winner from a team and personal perspective. If you want to know how to play like Michael Jordan, learn the lessons and mantra he lived by that made him the ultimate basketball icon.

What Makes Michael Jordan a LegendWhat Makes Michael Jordan a Legend?

Michael Jordan’s career is almost mythical. The media painted him as a winner, which is true. But as you may agree, there is no good movie plot without the protagonist struggling. What made him practically a legendary figure in basketball was how he rose out of the ashes and handled the hurdles in front of him.

When Jordan was drafted third overall by the Bulls, they were not in a good place as a franchise. They only managed 27 wins the season before and ranked 22 out of 23 teams in offensive rating and last in net rating. Arena attendance, as anyone would have predicted, was among the league’s lowest.

Jordan changed everything. While an 11-game improvement doesn’t seem like much, it was enough for the Bulls to make some faint noise in the playoffs. MJ suffered a severe foot injury at the start of the ‘85 season but returned to average 43.7 points in a 1986 playoff loss to the Boston Celtics. He experienced setback after setback until he got out of the first round for the first time in 1988. The Bulls then went to the Conference Finals in back-to-back years after that.

The tide began to change in 1991. Jordan and the Bulls finally figured out how to play the rough Bad Boys of Detroit. The Michael Jordan championship era started with an emphatic conquering of Magic Johnson and the Lakers in the 1991 Finals. Over the next seven seasons, Jordan won five more, with the last one in 1998. 

Another with MJ is not just what he did but how he did it. He demands a lot from himself and his teammates, and if he feels that anyone with him is not giving 100%, he’s not afraid to get in anybody’s face and be physical. 

It’s that take-no-prisoners attitude that made him a legend. Plus, when he’s on the court, it’s pure poetry in motion. The footwork is perfect, the leaping ability, the swagger– everything just screams “superstar.” That is why every 90’s kid wanted to be “Like Mike.” 

A huge part of Jordan’s legendary status was his crossover and commercial appeal. If not for him, sports fans won’t have the Jordan brand. Without MJ, sneakers would have been just sneakers, not part of pop culture. Mix all of these stories together– championships, mentality, and commercial appeal–, and you’ve got a living legend.

How Many Hours a Day Did Michael Jordan PracticeHow Many Hours a Day Did Michael Jordan Practice?

Jordan’s work ethic is also well-known. He told then UNC assistant coach Roy Williams that nobody was going to work as hard as him. One of Jordan’s teammates, fellow Hall of Famer James Worthy, attested that.

“After about 2.5 hours of hard practice, I’m walking off the floor, like, drenched [in] sweat, tired. And, here comes Michael pushing me back on the floor, wanting to play a little one-on-one, wanting to see where his game was,” Worthy said of Jordan. 

Worthy spoke of two and a half hours of practice, but Jordan trains typically up to six hours a day. Even when filming Space Jam, he’d squeeze five hours of practice, including a two-hour workout with his personal trainer, Tim Grover.

7 Remarkable Plays of Michael Jordan 7 Remarkable Plays of Michael Jordan 

Michael Jordan is known for clutch plays, electric dunks, and an insane layup package. You re going to see all of them here:

1. The Layup

No, not that one that happened in the 1991 NBA Finals. This play did not happen in the biggest stage, but it was one-of-a-kind that it’s genuinely the only time that this happened. Yes, Air Jordan pulled off a triple pump layup gliding forwards and over defenders.

2. Triple Clutch Jumper

Look at the play at the 3:30 mark of the video. That’s the only thing you need to know.

3. MJ climbs Mt. Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo is one hell of a rim protector and he was proud to tell Mike he hasn’t dunked on him yet. Jordan took that personally as he always has. It’s not one of his best dunks, but you can tell from the finger wag it was worth the wait.

4. The Shot

Again, that’s all you need to know.

5. The Shot 2.0

The most remarkable thing about this was how calm Jordan was before taking that pressure-packed jumper. If he missed, they’ll take trip to Salt Lake for a Game 7. That would hypothetically be fun, but Jordan wanted to end it early.

6. Old MJ still got it

There is no way MJ is going to lose a game against his old team, even if it takes a sprint and go full Wilt on a poor Ron Mercer.

7. MJ’s cradle dunks

The guy had a three-minute compilation of cradle dunks, but watch out for the one at 0:23. MJ practically jumped at the free throw line, did the double-pump cradle, and the highlight.

3 Traits You Should Possess to Play Like Michael Jordan3 Traits You Should Possess to Play Like Michael Jordan

Athletic Ability

First, you can’t play like Mike if you don’t have the complete athletic package. Many basketball players are passionate about basketball, but they are physically not up to far. Of course, athletic ability can be improved with training. However, if it’s getting apparent that you don’t have the bunnies that Michael had, you may have to find another player to mold your game into.

Resiliency

Jordan failed many times. That’s why he succeeded in the last part of his career. Failure and losses are unavoidable, but you have the option of not allowing them to define you. That is why Jordan promised himself that he won’t ever stop trying, even when things don’t go his way.

Work Ethic

All the athletic ability in the world is useless if you don’t work hard. MJ was notoriously a hardworker and trained up to six hours a day. His mindset was to ‘never let anyone outwork him,’ and needless to say, that worked out pretty well.

Lessons You Can Learn from Michael Jordan5 Lessons You Can Learn from Michael Jordan

Here are some of the best-known Michael Jordan tips and lessons that you could take to heart:

1. Be fearful but never doubt. Jordan still felt fear when he played, but he knew how to calm himself down and conquer those fears. One things that he didn’t do was doubt himself because doubt slows things down and immobilizes the mind.

2. Never give up. Jordan missed many shots, committed many turnovers, and blocked a million times in the lane, but he kept on going.

3. Check your ego at the door. In a basketball game, you commit mistakes, miss an open shot, miss open teammates, and get your ankles broken. Overthinking about yourself, how you look, and that everything needs to be perfect is not a healthy mindset. If you leave your ego at the door, you’ll be more free to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.

4. Know your role and stick with it. Jordan was a pretty good point guard when he was thrust into that role in 1989 in a desperation move by Doug Collins. But Jordan knew what he did well was score, so he worked hard to be the best at that. He realized that to be the team’s leading scorer, he had to work twice as hard on and off the court as everyone else. His job was to make his team better, whatever it took.

5. Set lofty objectives. Setting a high standard for yourself and your teammates, as Jordan did, will allow you to have something to strive for. Only then will you have success. As MJ himself said: “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

Wrapping Things Up: How to Play Like Michael Jordan: Learn From the Best Minds in Sports

Many basketball players would love to find out how to be as good as Michael Jordan. It’s a lofty goal, but it’s definitely worth a try if you love basketball. After all, MJ is considered the best to lace up a pair of basketball sneakers.

However, knowing how to play like Michael Jordan is more than just about physical abilities. You need to be mentally strong and have that insatiable thirst for winning. You need to keep your emotions and ego in check and always ready to learn. Jordan did all these, and that made him a true winner on and off the court.

If you’re interested in learning Michael Jordan’s story, check out this basketball biography book.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

Check out more interesting articles about Michael Jordan below:

How Many Triple Doubles Did Michael Jordan Have?

Does Michael Jordan Have the Highest Vertical?

What Positions Did Michael Jordan Play?

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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