There is something about MJ that motivational theory and categorization cannot reach.
When it comes to champion-minded athletes the distinction of intrinsic and extrinsic collapses.
In fact this distinction is just an illusion if we take a better look at it (but I won’t go down that road :).
The moment MJ steps on the court, there is no motivation, no desires, nothing to be drawn to. It is just him, at that moment, doing the best he can.
Motivation can be discussed with athletes outside the court/game/race/etc. However if athletes cannot get rid of their motives, they cannot reach self-actualization which should be the uppermost value on their pyramid. That was MJ’s drive. And it was simple, because he was feeling it and was able to demonstrate it with ease. In fact this is his talent, not basketball skills. 🙂
To cut short I believe the most accurate description of his greatness can be found in the psychological term ‘flow‘.