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Michael Jordan’s Injury History

Publish Date: 10.08.2022
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

If fans had it their way, no professional athlete would ever get hurt. Injuries don’t just make the game less exciting to watch, but they can completely tank a team’s whole season. That’s even more true if a superstar goes down, especially if that superstar is the best player of all time.

Here, I will break down the few injuries Michael Jordan suffered during his time in the NBA. Looking at those problems will give insight into his career and show how sometimes, in order to be great, players have to be lucky as well.

More Time Off

Jordan undoubtedly played in a tough era. Though pro sports are always difficult, the league is a bit softer than it used to be. There’s no hand checking, players take more time off when they get hurt, and improvements in science have led to a better understanding of injuries.

While organizations have always cared about player health, they are able to handle it much better now than they once were. Sprains or tweaks that athletes would have once played through, now require more time off. Rehab is a much more involved process as well.

Taking all of that into account, it’s easy to see why Jordan put up with more pain than modern NBA players. He had a lot to overcome on that front. While he did get out onto the court as much as possible, he still had issues sideline him every now and then.

Going, Going, Going

During the 80’s and 90’s players did everything they could to stay in the game. Toughness was seen as an incredibly valuable trait, especially during big games. Where many modern stars will sit out ten or so games a season, two decades ago it was a completely different story.

Jordan is a perfect example of that toughness. He played in 80 or more games in seven of his first eight years, with his only absence coming during his sophomore season when he broke his foot in the third game of the year and had to sit out for almost the entire year.

Playing in all 82 games is almost never heard of in modern basketball, but Jordan managed to do it nine times. Not only that, but he played in 78, 80, and 81 games in three of the seasons where he didn’t get all the way. He put up huge minutes as well.

Video: The Biggest WHAT IF in NBA HISTORY - Michael Jordan's Foot Injury Explained

The Biggest WHAT IF in NBA HISTORY – Michael Jordan’s Foot Injury Explained

Built Tough

Looking at his minutes and games played, it’s easy to see that Jordan didn’t have a lot of injury issues during his time. Avoiding ailments is not something players can control, but staying on the court is a key part of becoming an all-time great.

Jordan would not have had the career he did if he had to spend key regular season or playoff games watching from the bench. He wanted to be on the court as much as possible, and he did exactly that season after season after season.

While in today’s game such consistency would likely be the result of good medicine, the doctors weren’t as knowledgeable back in the 90’s. Jordan just had a different gear. He truly was built in a different way.

The foot injury during his sophomore campaign was the worst injury he ever had, and it caused him to miss a total of 64 games. Besides that, he only had one other season where he missed more than four contests.

Video: 5 Times Michael Jordan was Injured but REFUSED to Quit

5 Times Michael Jordan was Injured but REFUSED to Quit

Aging, but Not Aged

During his comeback with the Wizards in the early 2000’s, Jordan suffered a series of knee and foot injuries in the 2001 season. Though he pushed through initially, ailments kept popping up and his aging body couldn’t respond as well as it used to.

That year, he missed a total of 22 games. That seemed like it would be the death blow for Jordan’s career, but the G.O.A.T wouldn’t go out that easy. He came back for one more campaign the following year. In true fashion, he put on a show.

Nearing the age of 40, Jordan played in all 82 games in 2002. Not only that, he clocked 37 minutes a contest while doing so.

That’s more than most modern stars play in their prime, and gave a final look at just how much he could play.

Video: Michael Jordan Wizards Knee Injury

Michael Jordan Wizards Knee Injury

To be considered the G.O.A.T, you’ve got to start and finish strong

Jordan is known for his skill, but he was incredibly tough too. The guard had a level that few players have ever been able to emulate. That included pushing through pain. He had a few smaller issues in his career, but rarely

Even so, he couldn’t beat father time. All players, no matter how great, have to hang up their sneakers eventually. Jordan eventually gave in and resigned himself to the fact that his time had come to an end, but he only did so after playing a full season and getting the last laugh.

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