Did Expansion Create A Watered-Down NBA During Michael Jordan Era?

June 10, 1998; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan dribbles against Utah Jazz defender Jeff Hornacek in the first quarter of game four of the 2018 NBA Finals at the United Center.  Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

Before he became coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, JJ Redick was an effective podcaster.

He had a knack for tackling topics that raised questions. More importantly, they received attention.

One of them occurred a few months ago when he suggested Michael Jordan dominated a watered-down NBA because of expansion in the late 1980s and 1990s.

“Jordan was drafted during his heyday, and six teams were added to the NBA,” Redick said. “There were 90 players added to the NBA … Does that not water down the regular season to a degree?”

Many consider Jordan the greatest player in league history, but let’s hear out Redick. In 1988, the NBA added the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets. A year later, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic were born. Then came the Vancouver Grizzlies (now Memphis) and Toronto Raptors in 1995.

Since, some quotes from former NBA stars have surfaced to back the expansion theory. Dennis Rodman, who was one of Jordan’s teammates, made a similar statement way before Redick.

“I just think the league has really filtered out and diluted itself,” Rodman once said. “I just think it’s kind of hurting the league right now.”

And here’s what Hall of Famer Larry Bird had to say.

“Well, I think the expansion teams really hurt the league,” Bird said. “I think it’s depleted some of the talent in our league.”

No one will dispute the greatness of Jordan but this does raise some questions about the strength of his era.

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