It's always been a backdrop for bored basketball fans, but the lack of live sports combined with the airing of The Last Dance has significantly increased the theoretical discussion of how Michael Jordan would perform in today's game. Channing Frye dumped a large bucket of gas on that particular fire last night when he hopped on NBC Sports' Talkin' Blazers Podcast to say he doesn't think Jordan's way of winning would translate and players wouldn't want to team up with Jordan nowadays. From the 14:10 mark of the podcast:
"[Jordan] only had really one job, and that was to just score. And he did that an amazing, amazing rate. But I don't feel like his way of winning then would translate to what it is now. Guys wouldn't want to play with him. "- Channing Frye
Frye would go on to explain that Jordan wouldn't average 50 in this league because teams are more well-built to prevent one guy from dominating in that manner every single night. That's probably correct, although I would imagine Jordan would still be the best player in the league anyway. But seeing Jordan's role on the Bulls as only a scorer is quite a take.
Jordan won multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards and was named to a NBA-record nine All-Defense teams. He averaged over six assists per game in five of his six championship seasons. Early in his career, his only role was to score. He was still a great defender, but putting up big numbers on the scoreboard was his only goal because it was his best chance to win. It was when he developed the rest of his game and recognized that pouring all his energy into scoring wouldn't push the team over the top that Jordan began to win championships.
I don't think it's terribly outrageous to think he wouldn't be the most popular guy in the league nowadays. Guys would want to play for him, because winning can make up for a lot of the negatives that come along with playing next to a rather abrasive teammate in MJ. But given how much wider and intensive media coverage is now, those negative qualities would be magnified in ways the news of the late 90s did not reach.
Players now more than ever are moving from team to team looking for the right situation for themselves. If anything, The Last Dance has taught us that being Michael Jordan's teammate is not for everyone. Jordan would be no less great in today's league, but there might not be a line out the door to line up next to him.