Michael Jordan said the global expansion of the NBA has taken the game to an “all-time high”.
The Charlotte Hornets owner, speaking at a press conference ahead of his team’s clash with the Milwaukee Bucks at the Paris Game 2020, recalled playing in the French capital in a preseason tournament in 1996 and placed it as part of the legacy of the NBA’s international growth.
“The game has grown tremendously since I played here 23 years ago,” he said. “The Dream Team had started it. Then there was the time I played here. Now we have two teams playing a regular-season game here. We have expanded to Africa and China.
“The game is expanding all over the globe. I am glad I was part of it but I think it will continue to get bigger because of the passion for the game of basketball.
“The game is at an all-time high. I think fans are starting to understand how much fun it is to play the game.”
Asked about his team’s trip to Paris, Jordan said: “We are very happy to be here. I imagine there are 28 other teams that would love to do the same.
“Whenever the league invites us (to play internationally), it is great for our culture and for players to understand and see a different country, plus to bond as a unit.
“Every team welcomes the opportunity to play these games, wherever the league asks us.”
Jordan was asked for his thoughts on the frequent comparisons made between himself and LeBron James over the title of ‘greatest of all time’.
“We played in different eras,” he said. “He is an unbelievable player. He is one of the best players in the world, if not one of the best.
“There is a tendency to compare eras to eras and it will continue to happen. I think he has made his mark. When you start the comparisons, it is what it is. I take it with a grain of salt. He is a heck of a basketball player.”
Jordan was also asked for his thoughts on Zion Williamson’s explosive debut for the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night. The 2019 No1 overall draft pick recently signed a deal with Jordan Brand.
“It’s not just me. The NBA is very fortunate to have a young man who shows so much passion for the game, he said. “That is something you can’t give. You are born with it and you want to share it with the rest of the world.
“Jordan Brand looks at Zion as an impact player who brings energy to the game of basketball. We were fortunate he chose us. We can’t play basketball for him but we have the opportunity to showcase his talent. That is what our job is going to be. What you saw the other night is a taste of what to expect going forward. That’s great for the league.