NBA players are the sum of their parts. Athleticism doesn’t come from a single place, nor is it the result of one unique trait. NBA teams are learning that more and more each year, as they continue to evaluate new aspects with each passing season. That includes hand size.
Most NBA players have large hands, but a few have hands that are much bigger than their body size. Jordan was one such example. This article looks at how his mitts compared to the rest of the NBA by evaluating their sheer size as well as how they improved his overall game.
It’s important to note that the NBA measures hand size in two different ways: the span and the length. Both are critical in figuring out how big a player’s hands are, and each measurement helps inform their overall game.
Length goes from the base of the palm to the tip of the middle finger, while span is measured from the tip of the thumb to the end of the pinky when the player’s hand is fully outstretched. NBA players usually excel at both, but some players go far beyond the norm.
Jordan was one such player.
Grip in More Ways Than One
Michael Jordan had plenty of attributes that helped make him the greatest of all time, and that includes his hand size. His large paws had a length of 9.75 inches, as well as a span of nearly one foot long (11.375 inches). Both elevated his game.
Having big hands may not seem like a gigantic advantage at first, but they are critical in the game of basketball. That’s because they allow players to easily palm the ball, grab rebounds, and make key blocks, contests, or game-saving steals.
Jordan was incredible on offense, mainly due to his ability to control the ball both on the ground and in the air. His hand size allowed that to happen.
On top of that, he also played immaculate defense. His hands were a big reason why he was able to disrupt opponents and deflect assists in tight passing lanes. While he may have still been able to do that with smaller mitts, he certainly wouldn’t have been as effective.
In that way, Jordan’s hand size helped him on both sides of the ball. He wasn’t a terribly big outlier when it came to his other measurements, but his hands were quite special.
Larger than Life
Jordan’s hands are big, but it’s hard to see just how big they are without proper context. Looking at the rest of the NBA, the league has an average length of 9 inches and an average span of roughly 10 inches. In both of those, Jordan more than succeeds.
His hands were big for just about every position, even when compared to big men. For example, Shaq’s hands measured 10.25 across and 12 inches long, and Giannis’ hands were 9.85 and 12 respectively.
Both of those men tower above the 6’6 Jordan, but their hands are barely bigger. That’s true across the entire board with forwards and centers. In that way, Jordan’s hands are big for his position, and they’re big for every athlete who has ever played the game.
Few physical traits are more overlooked than handspan. A player’s palms and fingers are not something teams put a lot of importance on, but they matter quite a bit. Being able to easily hold the ball goes a long way. Jordan showed that time and time again.