The debates always end with the same conclusion: Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. People have come for his throne, including Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, but nobody has stolen the crown yet. Jordan's iconic legacy is rooted in some of the greatest notes about the history of basketball. Here are eight moments that back up his greatness in honor of his 54th birthday.
8. All-Defensive Selections
Most statistics about MJ's career focus on his contributions on the offensive side of the ball, which obscures just how great he was on defense. His nine selections to the All-Defensive first team are tied for the most in NBA history with Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Gary Payton.
7. "The Shot"
One of the first clutch moments of his career was "The Shot" to sink the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 1989 Eastern Conference playoffs. Just as famous as the shot itself was his reaction, which has been immortalized on posters in bedrooms around the country. It wasn't good enough to drive him to his first championship, though -- not yet.
6. Scoring With Consistency
Jordan suited up for the Chicago Bulls 930 times in his career. He scored at least 60 points on four different occasions with the team. He scored less than 10 points once -- a game that he only played 16 minutes in as he recovered from injury. That's just unreal.
5. NBA Titles
Nobody will ever be able to catch up with Bill Russell for most NBA championships, but his era was completely different from Jordan's. MJ still managed to guide the Bulls to six NBA titles and he won the Finals MVP award all six times he won.
4. "The Shrug"
When you're hot, you're hot. It can't always be explained, as Jordan would have readily admitted in the 1992 NBA Finals, when he caught fire from behind the arc against the Portland Trail Blazers, which was not in his usual repertoire. All he could do at the time was shrug his shoulders, just like NBA fans around the country.
3. Flu Game
Arguably the most famous individual performance in NBA history, the "Flu Game" was played in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Jordan looked as if he would collapse on the court at any moment as he was terribly ill. Somehow, he did what he does, which is power through to score 38 points and set the Bulls up to clinch an NBA title the next game. By the end of the affair, he collapsed into Scottie Pippen's arms, an iconic moment in NBA history.
2. Dunk Champion
Jordan won two NBA Slam Dunk titles. Those obviously aren't as significant as his MVPs and championships, but those events captured his enormous basketball legacy and how he could generate a buzz like no other, emulating Dr. J on his way to dunking from the free-throw line.
The golden standard for winning championships in today's NBA is to win not just one title, but three in a row. Jordan did that twice in his career, taking a break in between to give minor league baseball a shot.