Thursday, August 31, 2006
Jordan vs. Montana
There’s no denying that Michael Jordan was perhaps the greatest basketball player ever. What I find most interesting about Jordan’s career is actually the time he DIDN’T play. As most of you know, I’m an all-around dork but particularly so when it comes to statistics and probability. It’s rare to find so striking an example of one player’s influence on a team both positively in attendance and negatively in absence. Here's the history of the Chicago Bulls from NBA.com. Let’s just simplify things and look at championships instead of analyzing the individual seasons' records which are somewhat meaningless anyhow given the extended postseason in the NBA. From 1990 to 1993, the Bulls won 3 NBA championships with Jordan. After the ’93 season, Jordan retired and the Bulls failed to win another championship. Then, the first full year Jordan returned and for the following 2 years, the Bulls won 3 more championships. In 1998, Jordan retired for good and the Bulls have pretty much been pathetic ever since.
Let’s contrast this story with Joe Montana. As opposed to Jordan, when Montana left the 49ers, his team didn’t fall apart. In fact, the 49ers won Super Bowl XXIX just 2 years after Montana was traded to the Chiefs.
I frequently use the example of Jordan and Montana as allegory for leadership in business. While my ego would sometimes prefer to be Michael Jordan, I'd really rather be Joe Montana.