Olden Polynice implies Michael Jordan could have been a greater player had he made different life choices

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA player Olden Polynice offered an odd assessment of the legendary Michael Jordan’s potential, suggesting that the NBA icon’s personal habits limited him from reaching his true ceiling.

While speaking with Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson, Polynice implied that the NBA legend’s diet, smoking and physical fitness kept fans from seeing him at his best.

“Can you imagine if this guy ate right instead of eating McDonald’s, did not drink and did not smoke?” Polynice asked. “Can you imagine that Michael Jordan? And actually worked out on the regular?”

The bold remarks will likely cause NBA fans who saw Jordan perform on the court to scratch their heads and wonder exactly how much better Jordan could have been.

One of Jordan’s more prominent vices has been his penchant for cigars, though that never appeared to affect his basketball abilities. His diet may have also been suspect in some instances, though it’s doubtful that the Chicago Bulls or basketball fans in general feel cheated.

Jordan’s last two NBA seasons came as a member of the Washington Wizards after he’d been away from the game for three years. While Jordan was still performing at a high level, he wasn’t quite in the stratosphere he’d been at while with the Bulls.

Becoming an Icon

That tenure with the Bulls came in two stretches between 1984 and 1998. His talents turned him into a basketball legend who is considered by many to be either the greatest player ever or a strong contender for that distinction.

Jordan was the third overall selection of the 1984 NBA Draft and helped lead the Bulls to six NBA titles. Those championships required a learning process that meant getting past two Eastern Conference powerhouses of the 1980s, the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons.

Once Jordan and his teammates cracked the code of winning NBA titles, they won those six championships over a span of eight seasons.

A Brief Step Away

Jordan’s first retirement, which came just prior to the 1993-94 campaign, jolted not only the Bulls, but the basketball world at large. His absence prevented the Bulls from winning their fourth straight title, and his return in March 1995 wasn’t enough to win that year’s championship.

Yet, with Jordan back at the start of the 1995-96 season, the Bulls began another three-year run as NBA champions. Just as he did during the first three Bulls titles, Jordan took home MVP honors in all three years of the second three-peat.

Roughly two decades after his last game, Jordan remains an all-time great. Polynice may be the first person to ever suggest that Jordan didn’t quite live up to his potential.

Share This Article
Brad has written on a variety of both NBA and NFL topics and has worked previously as a sports information director at the collegiate level. A lifetime fan of sports, he's witnessed countless great moments in different sports and understands that stories can be compelling from both the perspective of winners and losers. As a frustrated fan of Cleveland sports, he experienced something unprecedented when the Cavaliers won the city's first championship in 52 years.