One pick's obvious, but who else would M.J. take? (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
With the PlayStation 4 set for retail release this Friday and the next-gen version of "NBA 2K14" among the new console's launch titles, 2K Sports is again ramping up its promotional efforts. And while Miami Heat star LeBron James is this year's 2K cover boy, when you've got Michael Jordan in the promotional fold, you might as well use him.
Back before the game's release for the PS3, 2K offered up a brief interview in which the Hall of Famer and Charlotte Bobcats owner discussed, among other things, which players from NBA history he'd have most enjoyed facing in a game of one-on-one while in his prime. Now, in the second half of that interview, the Chicago Bulls legend discusses, among other things, which four players he'd pick to round out a pickup hoops squad that would, in his words, "make sure I hold onto the basketball." (I'm assuming he means "hold onto" in a "winners stay, losers walk" sense, because having this kind of squad and never passing to the other four guys would be a real bummer.)
I'm guessing Jud Buechler's crushed right now. Porky Pig, too.
Scottie Pippen's an obvious choice, of course; I think that particular perimeter pairing proved quite effective en route to six NBA championships in the Windy City. Having Magic Johnson to trigger the fast break with those sorts of wing weapons and orchestrate in the half-court would be a treat — the trio played together with the '92 Dream Team in Barcelona, but that was after 12 NBA seasons, an HIV diagnosis and a retirement, and nowhere near the prime of Magic's facilitating abilities. Michael never played with a playmaker like that in Chicago or with the Washington Wizards, and it'd be interesting to see how that sort of table-setter would impact Jordan's offensive attack.
Ditto for Hakeem Olajuwon — as M.J. notes, "The Dream" was one of the most versatile and gifted big men of all time, a dominant two-way player the likes of which he'd never teamed with in his playing career (with all due respect to Bills Cartwright and Wennington, Luc Longley and Will Perdue, of course). Having that kind of premier back-line option behind them would give Jordan and Pippen license to be even more aggressive in defending the perimeter, which would be truly terrifying, and on the rare occasions when Magic wasn't generating open-court layups and Jordan wasn't going to work, it'd be an awful nice option to take a possession off by dumping the ball down into one of the most effective post players the game's ever seen to get an easy bucket or create a wide-open look off a double-team.
Worthy, to me, is the most interesting choice here. While he'd obviously have that old-time Showtime chemistry working with Magic, and while he and Jordan have experience sharing the wing from overlapping a year at UNC, James primarily played the three during his pro career, and the perimeter's pretty well stocked here. With his ability to beat more lumbering sorts off the dribble, he'd make for an interesting small-ball four, but he wasn't an elite shooter, and might not be quite the sort of inside-out weapon or defensive presence you'd want bridging the gap Hakeem and Pippen. There are all sorts of arguments to be made for that other forward spot — Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, etc. — and it'd be interesting to hear more about why M.J. went with his fellow former Tar Heel.
Then again, when your primary curiosity in a five-man unit is the selection of a no-doubt Hall of Famer, one of the 50 greatest players of all time and the player who earned the original "Big Game" nickname, you're dealing with some pretty high-class first-world problems. I'd worry a bit about only having one ball to go around for all these scoring threats, too, except that when you hang onto control of the court all day, there's plenty of possessions to go around.
Now, dear reader, we open the floor to you. Which four players of any era would you pick to surround Jordan? Let us know in the comments or via one of the multiple social-networking options listed below.
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