He's the greatest player of all time. But Jordan has one thing Bird doesn't: a national championship. Bird won Player of the Year in 1979 over Magic Johnson, while Jordan won in 1984 with Patrick Ewing and Akeem Olajuwon also in college. Carolina wears Jordan-branded uniforms and shoes, and so do a host of other programs across the country (including Michigan and Florida).
ESPN writers and commentators will provide daily roundtables and predictions as the bracket advances through March 31. Borzello: Jordan, on both accounts. With Lew Alcindor out of the picture, this one is clear to me. Sure, few "little guys" have a player as big as Bird, but the idea of rooting for the underdog -- from Valparaiso to Butler to Florida Gulf Coast -- has transformed the way the casual fan embraces the tournament, too. The ESPN Daily delivers the biggest sports news and moments every weekday. The way in which he played the game, there was an aura about him when he was on the floor. View, download, and print up-to-the-minute Men's NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament brackets on ESPN.com 2020 NCAA Tournament - March Madness - Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament NCAA Tournament Bracket - 2020
Jordan and Bird represent both in the final. Jordan is the best there ever was, no doubt. Jordan and Bird ticked every box to rack up votes throughout the tournament: historically good basketball players at both levels, most people voting watched them play throughout their careers -- and they also were both picked as the best player in a given season against stiff competition. Here, writers Jeff Borzello, Andrea Adelson and David Hale break down the championship.
Jordan is the most important basketball player, on and off the court.
Lew Alcindor is considered by most basketball historians to be the best college basketball player, but most of the people voting might have never seen him play at the college level. You simply know greatness. View, download, and print up-to-the-minute Men's NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament brackets on ESPN.com Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim reflects on the legacy of his friend and rival John Thompson Jr., and the standard the legendary Georgetown coach set for defensive basketball. Hale: I'll vote for Bird for the reasons mentioned above. Hyper competitive at everything, but also eminently likeable. No exceptions. Adelson: I spent a lot of time thinking about this question, because it is so difficult to answer. Bird led Indiana State to the national title game in 1979 against Michigan State and Magic Johnson in what is still the most-watched college basketball game on television. Hale: Jordan is the answer to every basketball question, of course, but I'll throw my lot in with Larry Legend. Quite fitting indeed. Both players were two-time first-team All-Americans, and both won Wooden Awards in their final year in college. But the key difference here is overall impact on the game, and for that I am going with Jordan. Calipari: There will be a season, tourney because 'I have a really good team', NCAA approves start date for college basketball season.
These are the two I would've expected to be here before we kicked all this off, and so it's no surprise to see them as the final players still standing. And in terms of importance, the way he helped bring in the business side of basketball -- starting with his Air Jordan sneakers and morphing into Jordan Brand -- has made a huge impact on the sport from a marketing standpoint. The NCAA tournament is all about the big, bad blue bloods against the lovable, fighting underdogs. Plus, it's MJ. Adelson: It is hard to go against Jordan, who remains the GOAT, period. He remains as relevant today as he did in 1982 with the power of that brand alone. Both Jordan and Bird were superstars in college -- Jordan, a marquee name at a marquee school, and Bird, the Hick from French Lick who took little old Indiana State to the brink of a title. That's Michael Jordan. There is no one player more identifiable with Carolina basketball than Michael Jordan, and it is hard to argue against his inclusion here in the finals even though you could make an argument that *not* winning a title his junior season qualifies as a disappointment. On March 19, ESPN launched SportsCenter Special: College Basketball's Greatest of All Time, a 64-player bracket celebrating the best men's and women's players ever. He always does. Jim Boeheim reflects on friend, rival John Thompson Jr. College basketball's 'greatest of all time' bracket: Championship breakdown, Why fouls are down everywhere in college basketball ... except the SEC, Famed Minnesota columnist Hartman dies at 100, KU's de Sousa opts out, citing 'personal issues', UMass penalized for hoops, tennis violations, Purdue to start practices after retests negative, Alabama's Oats says he had positive test in July, Ex-Texas State coach Kaspar denies being racist, CAA releases limited-travel basketball schedules, Rick Pitino and college basketball's second-chance coaches discuss new challenges, The power of the 'Tre Jones Effect' in men's college hoops, The coronavirus and college sports: NCAA reopening plans, latest news, program cuts, more, NCAA grants extra year for winter sport athletes, Survey: Coaches, athletes think racism an issue, Las Vegas to host men's regional for first time, Ohio State, Memphis in Crossover Classic field, Survey: Majority of Power 5 favor restructuring, Kepnang, No.
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