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Posted: Monday October 01, 2001 11:17 PM
Updated: Wednesday October 03, 2001 4:33 PM

Will Michael Jordan
still reign supreme?

Read both sides, then see how our users responded.

Jordan may not be the player he was, but he won't have to be. Jonathan Daniel/Allsport

By Marty Burns, CNNSI.com

Remember when Michael swiped the ball from Karl Malone in the '98 Finals? He knew where the play was going before the other nine guys on the court.

That's why he'll still be able to hold his own against the likes of Vince and Kobe.

The NBA game is as much mental as it is physical. With double-teams, traps and weakside shot-blockers, superstars must think their way around the floor. Jordan might be 38, but he still has the same IBM hoops brain, the same 20-20 court vision and the same fierce desire.

He'll also use the new rules. He'll zone up and then attack from odd angles. If he finds himself isolated on D, he'll use textbook body positioning and his knowledge of where his teammates are to force his man into tough shots.

At the other end, Jordan might not be able to soar over foes, but he'll use his strength to create space around the basket. He'll run his man off screens. He'll stick his fadeaway. He'll find a way.

Jordan has too much pride to let anybody -- including Vince and Kobe -- put a sneaker on the back of his baggy shorts. Not while he's still breathing anyway.


Twenty-three-year-old Kobe Bryant will test Jordan's endurance. Jeff Gross/Allsport

By Jennifer Cooper, CNNSI.com

"At 50 years old, Michael Jordan will still be better than half the players in the league," reigning NBA MVP and league-leading scorer Allen Iverson said about the Third Coming.

No argument there; Jordan can outplay almost anybody. But we're not concerned with just anybody.

The point here is that the NBA's brightest stars -- namely, Iverson, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter -- are approaching their primes while Jordan is headed down the other side of that mountain.

Sure, adrenaline, and a competitive drive will carry him part of the way. But when the fourth quarter rolls around, experience, court savvy and creating imaginary rivals won't help Jordan make jumpshots or keep up on defense if his 38-year-old legs aren't willing.

In fact, Jordan was victimized by Iverson's crossover even before his recent three-year hiatus.

The Man Himself said, "I know that I'm not 25 years old. I'm not stepping up and saying I will be 25 years old when I step on that court."

Well, Kobe and Vince aren't 25 years old, either; they're 23 and 24, respectively. And that's the one aspect of the game His Airness can't control.

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