Where is the next Michael Jordan?

........................................................................................................................................................................................

There certainly isn’t anything finer than what you would find coming out of Carolina, especially where the history of the National Basketball Association is concerned.

In watching this year’s NBA playoffs, I got a flashback to arguably the greatest player in NBA history, Michael Jordan.

I watch Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Tony Parker, and wonder where the superstar quality of Jordan has gone.

Jordan won six championships with the Chicago Bulls, holds the record for the most points ever scored in a playoff game at 63 against the Celtics, has eight playoff games of more than 50 points, averaged 33.4 points in playoff games, and hit numerable game-winning shots that could fill up a highlight reel just focusing on Jordan’s incredible shots in the 1990s domination of the Bulls over the rest of the NBA.

Ever since Jordan retired, the question has always been “who be the next Michael Jordan?”

Close on the heels (pun intended) of Jordan was former North Carolina star Vince Carter. “Vin-sanity” never quite got off the ground in New Jersey and Carter never even came close to the hype of being the next Jordan.

Kevin Garnett came to the league out of high school and was thought to be the savior of the league. Surely, he would lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to multiple NBA titles.

It never happened, although Garnett may yet wear an NBA ring as part of the Celtics’ “Three Amigos” with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.

Not if Boston plays like it did on Thursday night, losing to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, 98-79, in the Boston Garden.

That brings us to the latest, greatest failure in taking up the Jordan mantle.

James, nicknamed the “King,” has yet to live up to his considerable hype. Many thought James would exceed Jordan in greatness with more NBA titles and higher scoring totals. He hasn’t even come close.

According to NBA statistics, James has hit only 36 percent of shots in clutch moments within the last five minutes of games or overtime when the score was within five points.

James has received criticism from analysts on not wanting the ball in clutch situations. One of the issues, according to ESPN analysts, in the game-four loss in Miami was Wade taking most of the shots, particularly late in the game, while James watched from the corner.

Certainly not Jordan-esque, is it?

Where is the wagging tongue while soaring above the defenders for a game-winning lay-up? Where is the clutch shot to win an NBA title with a twisting, acrobatic leap? Where are the NBA titles?

James has not won an NBA title in his nine years in the league, despite his assertion that he and Wade would win many in Miami.

James finally showed up on Thursday night, scoring 45 points and taking the game over. But the Heat still have to win a game seven to get to the meet the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA finals.

The Thunder might have the next Jordan on their roster.

Dirk Nowitzki, of the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, couldn’t get past Kevin Durant and the Thunder. Nowitzki only hit 31-percent of his shots in clutch moments this year.

Kobe Bryant? His Lakers fell to the Thunder while Kobe has only hit 3-of-17 in game-winning shots over the last three seasons.

Durant has hit 42-percent of clutch shots this year. Time will tell if he can lead the Thunder to a championship after they fell to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals last year. The Thunder are only two seasons removed from only winning 30 games in Durant’s rookie year.

That is sounding a little Jordan-like.

I just hate that he is from, “ugh,” the University of Texas.

Even Jordan has not been the next Jordan. As owner and GM of the Charlotte Bobcats, he hasn’t inspired much in the way of hope for his home state’s NBA aspirations. The Bobcats were the worst team in the NBA this year with a 7-59 record.


-- Email the author at mstearns@news-bulletin.com.