‘Like a Cat’: NBA Legend Jerry West on How Michael Jordan’s Athleticism Was Unmatched Since His College Days

Published 10/14/2021, 12:30 PM EDT


Michael Jordan was a generational talent. His impact on the floor has mesmerized every one who has come across his game, regardless of their age. In addition to inspiring the youth, he also impressed the legends of the game in his era. Among them was Mr. Logo, Jerry West, who was a stellar guard in the NBA between 1960 and 1974.

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West dedicated his entire life to the NBA – first as a player, then as a coach, and ultimately as an executive. And it takes a lot to impress a person who has seen generations of prime talent in the NBA. Michael Jordan certainly did that and indeed became a player in a league above all on his own. Even in college, West was impressed by how athletic Michael was.

In an interview with Fubo Sports, Jerry West recalled the time he saw Michael’s peak athletic performance in his college.

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Jerry West on how Michael Jordan impressed him while he was college

Reflecting on how Michael Jordan was the best offensive and defensive player in his time, Jerry West remembered a story from Michael’s college days.

He said, “His athleticism! He was in Carolina, and they were running, I forget, a 100 or 40-yard dash. And he ran some spectacular number. And the late Dean Smith, who was a really good friend of mine, and also Roy Williams, who just retired at North Carolina, we were all close, and they were talking about him, I think it was running the 100 or something like that.

“He ran in some spectacular timing.”

29 Apr 1998: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls in action against Jason Williams #55 of the New Jersey Nets during the NBA Playoffs round 3 game at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Bulls defeated the Nets 116-101.

Further, West added, “And one of the coaches said something to him differently, and he said ‘oh, I can do better than that’. He went out at two-tenths of a second faster. And like vertical jump means a lot, but it means a lot to the ones who have skill. Some guys jump quickly, some guys have to wind up. Michael Jordan was like a cat.”

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Ever since his college days, Jordan was dominant in all aspects of the game. Perhaps it was this spirit and energy that he brought to the NBA that put the league on the global map. 

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Do you feel Jordan was responsible for the global recognition that basketball has today? Let us know in the comments.

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Chaitanya Dadhwal

225 articles

Chaitanya Dadhwal is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Even though his journalism is driven by his desire to understand both sides of an argument and give a neutral perspective, he is biased towards Houston Rockets and Arsenal, and he has shown exactly how loyal he can be through tough times. Currently a Law student at Jindal Global Law School, he aims to have his own sports management firm one day and enjoys rap music during his time off.

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