As I write this, I’m doing two of my favorite things: thinking about basketball and listening to Jay Z (hence the title duh). With all this recent talk of legacies and people arguing about teaming up and all that nonsense, I just decided to appreciate greatness for a change. I’m about to give you the greatest individual seasons since 1984 (again hence the title). In the spirit of fairness and objectivity, I’m not going to go back any further than that. Before we get into this list, let me give you some insight. I’m not judging and ranking these seasons based on the end result or any type of accolades and accomplishments. I’m judging strictly off who played the best basketball. Period. Naturally most of these singular campaigns will have garnered some notable achievements but that will have no bearing on where they are placed on the list. Well enough small talk, let’s get down to business………….
5. Kobe Bryant 2005-2006
To me, this was Kobe at his most unstoppable. He went on a tear. Played with a chip on his shoulder the entire year. He torched the other team’s best defender and perpetually harassed their best (perimeter) scorer on a nightly basis. In what was considered a down season for the Lakers after many recent years of success, Kobe attacked with a relentless that has seldom been matched by anyone to lace up a pair of sneakers. And of course he had that monstrous 81 pt game against Toronto. Oddly enough, his lowest scoring game of the season came earlier in the year against the Raptors. Guess he was on get back.
4. Scottie Pippen 1993-1994
This was the first (and pretty much only) taste we got of Scottie as “The Guy” on his team. And he did not disappoint. He proved he could lead a team and he put the full range of his skills on display. Scottie was a terror. I’m sure there were doubts about his ability to carry the whole load and I’m also sure that by season’s end all those questions were answered.
3. Larry Bird 1987-1988
Larry Legend put on a show in his last season before he got bitten by the injury bug. He destroyed everyone, which is honestly par for the course for him, but this season was exceedingly brutal for the opposition. It was probably the most dominant Larry had been at any point in his career. He seemed to be aging like wine until his back turned into sour grapes. A shame he was cut down so early. At least we got nine good years at which we can marvel.
2. Allen Iverson 2000-2001
Now there might be a small bit of sentiment attached to this selection but despite that, I’m sure no one would argue that A.I. tore the league apart during the year like few had done before him. He was on a mission and to be honest, I felt sorry for anybody who stepped in front of him. He ran through the Association like a hot knife through butter. And he did it while battling multiple injuries. He also gave us one of the most exhilarating postseason runs we’ve ever seen. Two classic 7 game series and an incredible Finals against one of the greatest teams ever. And come on let’s be real, the step over on Tyron Lue made this season totally worth it.
1. Michael Jordan 1988-1989
I know most people are going to have a problem with this. But let’s be open minded here. Mike dominated on an insane level. Doug Collins had a crazy idea to move him to PG and they damn near had to call the police. All that “MJ is selfish” and “MJ can’t make his teammates better” nonsense flew out the window. I think this is the point where he really started to fully round out his skillset. Even though he still hadn’t conquered the Bad Boys obstacle course yet, it was becoming evident that he was the best player in the league. This was an incredible run by MJ and was a beautiful mixture of his athletic peak and a refined skillset.
So there you have it folks. Do you agree with this list? Don’t be shy. Share what you think are some of the greatest individual seasons we’ve seen. If you want to go past 1984 I’m cool with that. I know some of you are old.
SN: As I previously stated, team results have nothing to do with this. It is strictly based off individual performance. Also, I did not want to list multiple seasons by one player. If that was the case, I could have listed Michael Jordan five times. Most importantly, I don’t expect everyone to agree. We all judge the game differently. I encourage healthy debate. Let me know what you think.