Former NBA star John Salley indicated that international basketball coach Bozidar Maljkovic offered a shocking opinion about the ability of basketball legend Michael Jordan by stating that Jordan would’ve only been an “ordinary” player if he played in Europe.
Salley played for Maljkovic just after being part of the Chicago Bulls’ 1995-96 championship squad, which was powered by Jordan. After playing overseas, Salley would eventually be a part of the 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers team.
In Jeff Pearlman’s book “Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty,” Salley noted that Maljkovic’s controversial opinion about Jordan was one reason why his international career ended in quick fashion.
“Salley tells that as soon as they were introduced, Maljkovic told him that Michael Jordan (with whom the power forward had just been champion) was ‘an ordinary player’ and that ‘in Europe, he would average 16 points per game.’ At that time, according to this book, Salley had it clear: ‘There I saw that it would last a short time there.’ It was, finally, seven weeks.”
When Maljkovic made his remarks, Jordan had just won his fourth NBA title and would go on to lead the Bulls to titles in each of the next two seasons.
While international players have made a strong impact in the NBA over the past three decades, it’s clear that Maljkovic’s absurdly biased assessment of Jordan’s talents put his own coaching abilities in question.
Jordan is considered by many to be the greatest player in basketball history. However, even if he isn’t given that designation, there is virtually no one else on the planet other than Maljkovic who would depict Jordan as an “ordinary” player.