Michael Jordan says the American National Basketball Association is trying to create stars who haven't earned that status.
"When I was playing it was never done," Jordan, now part owner of the Washington Wizards, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "You didn't create Magic Johnson or Larry Bird. They created themselves."
Although Jordan led the University of North Carolina to the 1982 U.S. college championship and then won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics, he said he still surprised people when he came into the league.
"When I came out, no one knew. I had to prove myself," he told the newspaper for Thursday's editions. "Kobe Bryant came out of high school and everybody had already projected him as such a great player."
Players like Bryant, one of the stars of the Losse anybody, making the risk of failure far greater, Jordan said.
He is impressed by some players in the league, including the Detroit Pistons' Grant Hill, but said the NBA is making a mistake by pushing Hill and others as the next Michael Jordan.
"Endorsement-wise, financially, that's fine and good," said Jordan, who plans to stop endorsing products when his current contracts expire. "But they need to portray him in his individuality."
Jordan said players such as Bryant and Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors still have much work to do on the court.
"Kobe, he's got to continue to grow," Jordan said.
He said that Bryant is fortunate that he's being coached by Phil Jackson, Jordan's mentor with the Chicago Bulls.
"He'll listen to Phil," Jordan said."
Jordan said Bryant should ignore Carter's offensive moves, which he said are dazzling.
"But Vince doesn't play defense," said Jordan, a former defensive player of the year as well as a five-time winner of the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award.
Jordan said the Wizards' Juwan Howard, another who entered the league amid extremely high expectations, works hard and can be a winner. But Jordan insists Howard makes too much money.
"He's not a franchise player, although he's paid like one," Jordan said.
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