Some prioritized production and impact long-term on the court. Others prioritized influence off the court from cultural branding, style, music, and experience as an executive. In our scoring system, the top vote on a former or current player’s ballot received five points, the second received four points, the third received three points, the fourth received two points, and the fifth received one point. Below are the results of the poll.
Many people debate who’s the greatest player ever, but there’s no debate for the most influential player of all time, and we have the numbers to prove it. HoopsHype polled a mix of 52 former and current NBA players for their most influential players ever, and Michael Jordan won in a landslide.
Michael Jordan: Share of the vote: 73.85 percent of the maximum amount possible Almost half of the voters in our poll (25) voted Michael Jordan No. 1 on their ballots. No other player got more than five first-place votes. MJ really ran the table here, and how can you argue with that? His on-court accomplishments are unimpeachable, as is the cultural impact. He was, after all, the most famous person on the planet for a while, turning millions into basketball fans across the globe. “He just made the game look so fun and painted an amazing picture with the way he played,” one former NBA player who played for Jordan told HoopsHype. “Off the court, seeing how he carried himself. He showed the business side from a branding standpoint that was unreal. His logo speaks for itself, and he ran the basketball operations of the Wizards and played while doing it.”
Share of the vote for LeBron James: 37.69 percent of the maximum amount possible No player has ever entered the NBA with more hype as a teenager and exceeded those expectations more than LeBron James, who finished with the most second-place votes (11) in the poll. His nationally televised free agency decision in 2010 across the country was an iconic must-see television moment. “LeBron’s ability to influence his peers, public opinion, his basketball dominance from a very young age, and his philanthropic work puts him up there with the most influential NBA athletes,” one former NBA player and current assistant coach told HoopsHype.
Now more than a decade later, it is clear that that bitter loss still stings for LeBron James. In a recent episode of HBO’s The Shop: Uninterrupted, James revealed the harsh reality behind that unforgettable moment in his career. According to LeBron, the reason why they lost that series was because he was in a different place mentally: “My first year in Miami I was down here I was literally like, I wanted to prove everybody wrong,” LeBron said. “And I like literally lost myself in the moment. I lost myself. And I got all the way to the championship that year and lost. Afterwards I was like we lost because I wasn’t even there.”
In a recent episode of “The Shop,” LeBron James admitted that it pisses him off when he is not mentioned amongst the greatest scorers in NBA history. “When they talk about the best scorers of all time, they never mention my name,” James said in the episode. “It pisses me off.”
James added that he does not consider himself to be a score-first player. Instead, he prefers to get his teammates involved. “I’m not like a natural scorer,” James said. “I love getting my guys involved, I’ve always been that way.”
Jorge Sierra: 🐐 MOST PLAYOFF SERIES LED IN SCORING 🐐 Michael Jordan: 36 LeBron James: 36 There's a caveat, though: MJ played only 37 series to LeBron's 49. Jordan was only outscored once... by Terry Cummings... by one point.
When asked the poll question, NBA legend and NBA TV analyst Isiah Thomas responded "Absolutely," Giannis would perform at the same level. But, Thomas didn't stop there. He went on the rail against former players trashing current players and even mentioned Oakley by name. "Giannis going around Oakley, Giannis going around all them. He dunkin' on them. He bigger, he faster, he stronger. You can talk all that stuff 'cause you don't play no more. You can talk all that stuff 'cause you got gray hair and you sitting on the sidelines, smoking cigars about what you used to do. That dude will dog you ever single time y'all step on the court."
"He'd be dunkin' on all them," Thomas said of the players from his era, pleading with them to stop the hate: "All y'all stop it with 'he wouldn't dominate in the 80s.' We ain't never seen no dude like this come into our league. And give him his props, give him his credit. He would dog anybody in the 80s, 90s, 2000s and 3020 when we get there," Thomas said.
First Take: .@IsiahThomas believes that LeBron is the most dominant player he's ever seen. "When he passes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in scoring, you HAVE to anoint him as the GOAT."
In 2016 LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers made history not just by winning the first NBA championship in the history of the franchise but also by coming back from being 1-3 down in the Finals. That was when James felt like he is the greatest player of all time. “That moment I was like ‘I’m the greatest basketball player people will ever see.’ In all facets. I can play the 1 through 5, I can guard 1 through 5,” James told former NBA star Kenny Smith. “Just literally did something that’s never been done in the history of the sport. I mean teams that go down 3-1 was 0 for like 32 in Finals history. Nobody ever coming out of there and nobody gave us a chance.”
NBA Central: LeBron on the moment he felt like he was the greatest player of all-time: pic.twitter.com/iYP2JTkHbn
This ranking is not in dispute. It’s a formality, a wave of the hand, a tip of the cap, an admittance of the obvious. The sky is blue. The earth is round. Michael Jordan, No. 1 on The Athletic’s NBA 75. The best player in the 75-year history of the NBA. Case closed. There is no next. There is only one, and it’s Jordan.
“He checks all the boxes, and nobody else checks every box,” said veteran Jordan chronicler, journalist and author Sam Smith. This isn’t new ground for him. Smith actually wrote a book about Jordan titled “There Is No Next.” Smith also wrote the seminal 1992 book “The Jordan Rules,” which humanized and demythologized Jordan at the beginning of his incredible run of winning six NBA titles in two symmetrical three-peats.
But in the “image is everything” era when Jordan made exponentially more money outside of basketball from endorsements, no one backed it up on the court like Jordan. He created a new world in both sports marketing and sports myth-making. “In tennis or golf or boxing, the mystique is the individual,” Jordan’s agent David Falk said to Henry Louis Gates Jr. in a 1998 New Yorker story. “Whereas no matter how great Bill Russell or Bob Cousy was, it was the Celtics dynasty, it was always institutional. Michael changed all that. Singlehanded.”
Steve Kerr won three titles with Jordan, another two with David Robinson and Tim Duncan and then three more as a coach with the Warriors. He’s played and coached against the best players in the league since the late 1980s. During the 2017 postseason, he joked about the “back in my day” philosophy comparing champions of yesterday to the unworthy teams of the present. “The game gets worse as time goes on,” he said. “Players are less talented than they used to be. The guys in the ’50s would’ve destroyed everybody. It’s weird how human evolution goes in reverse in sports. Players get weaker, smaller, less skilled. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.”
Eric Walden: Quin Snyder adds that the Jazz really struggled in transition against the Lakers. Also had nothing late for LeBron James, "the greatest player of all time. Some people might dispute that, but that's what I'm calling him."
Oakley spent most of the event taking questions from students, including one about who’s the best player between Jordan and LeBron James. “They’re both different players, it’s kind of asking if you like Corn Flakes or Frosted Flakes better,” Oakley said. “You like them both.” When asked how hard it was to reach the NBA, Oakley said, “You only get out of life what you put in.”
LeBron is, according to The Athletic’s voting panel of NBA experts, the second-greatest player ever. Which makes him, arguably, the greatest ever. All time. Through 75 history-rich seasons. From Akron, Ohio, to the top of the world.
For years, the debate has been Michael or LeBron? LeBron loses that one more than he wins, but he still has the chance to change more minds. Either way, he has been so great, for so long, LeBron has elevated himself to the most rarefied air in NBA history, and we know he’s been there for quite some time. Maybe the only question is, does LeBron know?
“No, I don’t,” James said with a pause, as he walked through the loading docks at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center. “One thing that I do know is that I am gifted, and I put in the work to be as great as I can be on the floor,” he said. “And I understand that through time and commitment and dedication that I put myself in position to be mentioned with some of the greats that ever played basketball, period. Not just in the NBA, but period.”
HoopsHype: Where do the GOATs rank statistically in their respective draft classes? Both Kareem and LeBron are No. 1 in all main categories.
Isiah Thomas: The greatest all around player ever let it be known @KingJames @ESPNNBA @FirstTake @NBA @NBATV
“These GOATs, these names that we throw out, it’s not gonna just be a lot of those players. But the game continues to keep moving forward. And so we are gonna continue to see things that we have never seen before. And the eyes are gonna get younger and younger,” Wade said on the Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. “We are not going to have a conversation about the GOATs. Now it’s going to be the younger, younger, younger generation. And they’re gonna forget about Jordan like we forget about Kareem.”
Jorge Sierra: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the only player in the Top 10 in three of the five main statistical categories. That's no longer the case. After last night's game, LeBron James is also Top 10 in three categories (points, assists AND steals). Isiah Thomas: The two GOATS @kaj33 @KingJames let it be known.
Jorge Sierra: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the only player in the Top 10 in three of the five main statistical categories. That's no longer the case. After last night's game, LeBron James is also Top 10 in three categories (points, assists AND steals). Jared Sullinger Sr.: Real talk Kareem don’t get talked about enough. But Bron will damn near be in every top 10. That’s amazing and laughable at the same time…. Dudes unreal
In the eyes of Harrington, players in the Jordan era were a lot less friendly with each other compared to the way players interact today. “Michael Jordan came up in the era where everybody hated each other,” Harrington said. “They did not f— with each other, was no homeboys in the offseason, was no, ‘Let’s go to the clubs in the summer and go holler at some chicks.’ It was none of that. … When they played, it was war. LeBron has dominated an era of his little bros. They all his little bros, everybody. Who he had it with? Who? What star has LeBron had it with? What team has LeBron had it with?”
James scored a season-high 39 points in Indianapolis, including eight of L.A.'s 12 points in the extra session, to help the Lakers erase a 12-point second-half deficit and finish their five-game road trip with a record of 2-3. James made the day a special one, lifting L.A. back to .500 at 10-10, securing the win without Anthony Davis, who was out with flu-like symptoms. "That's why he's the GOAT, man," said Lakers guard Malik Monk, who had 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench. "I've been watching him my whole life. He's like our [Michael] Jordan in my generation."
The three-time NBA champion was asked whether he’d rather build a team around Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry or Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant. Wade gave it some thought, but he ultimately decided to go with Curry. “I’m gonna go with Steph,” Wade told Dan Patrick after being asked whether he’d rather start a team with Curry or Durant. “… I guess I went with Steph because Steph has kind of revolutionized the sport. He’s one of those Mount Rushmores from the sense of changing the game the way he has.”
TheWarriorsTalk: Joe Lacob via @957thegame : "How many championships does LeBron have?  Steph has?  I really wanna see Steph get into that pantheon, at least equal to him. Nothing against him..."
As for two other legends Garnett crossed paths with, during a video call a few months later, I ask him about the difference between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. “It's a different level of respect,” he replies. “Michael Jordan I looked at as f------ God. And I thought he was my version of what basketball looked like. And with LeBron, it was more like the little homie. Here's the little homie growing up, and man, little homie is getting better than everybody! God damn!... I definitely talked some s--- to him. I've definitely said some crazy s--- to him. He's definitely said some crazy s--- back to me.” Garnett also praises LeBron for carrying the NBA as long as he has: “You've gotta have that in you to be able to have those shoulders to carry it. No man is perfect in this s---, and there ain't no telltale book on how to do this s---. He's done a great f------ job. I just felt like it was only right to give him that respect.”
Shawn Marion on LeBron, Kobe and MJ comparisons: “Let's just appreciate what he’s done, man. I mean, right now and I’ma leave it like this. Last time that I checked MJ was the first person to wear number #23. Is he not? So the next person to take the number #23? It was LeBron. But Kobe emulated everything MJ did on the court; from the fadeaway to all that other stuff and he truly patented his game after MJ. I don’t think LeBron ever tried to do that. I think LeBron is setting out to follow in his [MJ’s] steps to try to be the best player he can be in this generation, which he did. Because when you look at it I think it’s generational.
Shawn Marion: I think LeBron, by far, has been one the best athletes that we’ve witnessed to see right now and we’ve got to appreciate it. Stop trying to compare the two. If you’re really going to try to compare those two, Kobe was the closest thing skillswise to MJ, but LeBron is a different type of player. I mean, athletic-wise when you look at LeBron you don’t look at him as a scorer-scorer because he does everything on the floor, and he wants to do everything on the floor. So just appreciate it for what he’s done and how he’s doing it; going to as many NBA Finals and vice-versa and just leave it at that. I don’t think that you can compare the two. I think MJ is in his own lane just as well as LeBron is in his own lane. I got the chance to play against LeBron, Kobe and MJ and I gotta say Kobe as far as skill set and mentality is the CLOSEST thing to MJ.
Scottie Pippen: My years in Chicago, beginning as a rookie in the fall of 1987, were the most rewarding of my career: twelve men coming together as one, fulfilling the dreams we had as kids in playgrounds across the land when all we needed was a ball, a basket, and our imagination. To be a member of the Bulls during the 1990s was to be part of something magical. For our times and for all time. Except Michael was determined to prove to the current generation of fans that he was larger-than-life during his day—and still larger than LeBron James, the player many consider his equal, if not superior. So Michael presented his story, not the story of the “Last Dance,” as our coach, Phil Jackson, billed the 1997–98 season once it became obvious the two Jerrys (owner Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Jerry Krause) were intent on breaking up the gang no matter what happened.
Bob Pettit: I played against some of the greatest players to ever play the game. When you start picking centers, it’s hard to beat Wilt and Bill Russell. In my opinion, Russell is the greatest player who ever played. I’d pick him to start my team, in his prime, any time. Then the Lakers had both Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. They were such wonderful players. You have to include Oscar Robertson, too. He’s one of the greatest all-around players to ever play. These guys can play any time, anywhere and be extremely successful. You can build a team around any of them today.
BIG BABY !!: To you in your personal opinion who’s the greatest basketball player of all time. Damian Lillard: MJ.
Recounting his memories about the pair, former Sacramento Kings scorer Walt Williams heaped praise on Bias and even reckoned that the late former college basketball prodigy was indeed “a little bit ahead” of Jordan in terms of overall skills. “I know certainly either we would have been talking about him [Bias] as the greatest of all time, or Jordan would be on an even different level,” Williams recently told Basketball Network. “I think those guys certainly would have pushed each other to the max. The thing about Len Bias when you compare him to Michael Jordan, I think he was a little bit ahead of Michael when they were in college with his skillset.” “The jump shot that Bias had that was just the prettiest thing you could ever see,” he added. “He could defend multiple positions; he was a kind of a hybrid of how you see the game played now. And that’s the tragedy of not seeing a Len Bias. I think the game would have gravitated to where it is much quicker.”
Too often the NBA's greatest-of-all-time debate gets boiled down to Jordan vs. LeBron. I know this bothers many observers who were old enough to watch you play; how bothersome is it to you to be excluded from the GOAT discussion? Kareem: GOAT discussions are fun, like debating who’s faster: Superman or the Flash. It’s a metaphysical mystery. The question can never be answered because players from the past were trained under different restrictions and played under different rules. Then you have to ask what to give more weight to: Scoring, defense, assists? All of them? But the stats don’t always reveal the particular conditions and challenges of each season. Way too many variables. How about we just discuss the O’GOAT (One of the Greatest of All-Time)?
NBA Central: Cade Cunningham calls LeBron the G.O.A.T. over Michael Jordan “LeBron is the best player I’ve seen with my eyes. … I’ve seen all the Michael Jordan stuff, dude is different. I can’t argue with the fact that you think he is the GOAT but...I say LeBron.” lakersdaily.com/cade-cunningha…
The list of MVP awards, All-Star appearances and other accolades is extensive, but in the eyes of NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, James isn’t better than Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant because of the talent he’s played with, as he said on HBO’s “Back on the Record with Bob Costas“: “In fairness, I don’t even put LeBron past Kobe; let’s get that out of the way…LeBron has stacked his teams; let’s be realistic…The struggle is a part of your legacy.”
Marc Stein: The NBA, I'm told, will release an all-new top 75 players when the list is unveiled in October. Meaning that players listed among the league's original top 50 revealed in 1997 at an All-Star Weekend (also in Cleveland) are not all automatically assured of a spot in the top 75.
But this time around, it’s not a current superstar or an NBA legend who weighed in on the whole global conundrum of Who’s Better Between LeBron and MJ? But nevertheless, he’s quite controversial: Tennis star Nick Kyrgios. In a video recently posted by the ATP Tour on Instagram, Kyrgios was asked the age-old question. The fiery Australian, as expected, gave a bold answer. “LeBron’s better than Jordan. Not even a debate.”
On if the constant ‘G.O.A.T.’ debate gets exhausting: LeBron: It can be exhausting, you said it, but I’ve always looked at it like any time you’re compared or you’re even mentioned with the greats to ever play this game, it’s become humbling for me, because the same people they put me in the category with … are the same guys that I looked up to for inspiration when I was growing up. And I needed that inspiration growing up in the inner city here in Akron, Ohio. So to have the Michael Jordans’, the Kobe Bryants’, the Ken Griffey Jrs’, the Deion Sanders’, all those unbelievable sports figures when I needed it, they helped me. So it’s like, ‘Wow, you guys are comparing me to these greatest players that I’ve ever seen when I was growing up. It’s humbling, man.
Matt Barnes says Steve Kerr is absolutely right ... telling TMZ Sports Kevin Durant is, in fact, "more gifted" than Michael Jordan! "He didn't say a better player," Barnes told us out at LAX this week. "He just said more gifted."
Scottie Pippen: LeBron James won a championship without any help
With his star teammates, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, going down to injury, Durant averaged 35.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists on 42.7 minutes per game in the Nets' Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, including 49 points in Game 5 and 48 in Game 7. "He just showed he's the most talented basketball player on earth, if not of all time," Kerr said. "Honestly. He's just so gifted. I loved coaching him, and I'm looking forward to doing so again."
Kerr won two championships with Jordan as a teammate on the Chicago Bulls and won two more coaching Durant, so he just might have the best perspective of anyone when it comes to this debate. "I think he's more gifted, I really do," Kerr said. "That's saying something, but Kevin is a different ... entirely different breed. He's 6-11 with guard skills, unlimited 3-point range, passing, shot-blocking -- his shot-blocking at the rim, it's just stunning. Watching him this year was really, really gratifying to see.
“I think he’s more gifted, I really do,” Kerr said of Durant when prodded by NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai to compare the two players. “That’s saying something, but Kevin is different … entirely different breed. He’s 6-foot-11 with guard skills, unlimited 3-point range, passing, shot-blocking — his shot-blocking at the rim, it’s just stunning.”
"Durant has just showed he’s the most talented basketball player on earth, if not of all time,” Kerr said. “Honestly He’s just so gifted.”
Onlinegambling.com analyzed over 400,000 tweets containing the phrase 'GOAT' and the goat emoji, and according to the study, Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell has the highest percentage of mentions that tie back to the "GOAT" phrase. They did this for every major sport. "During May 2021, we scraped and analyzed over 400,000 tweets containing the phrase 'GOAT' and the goat emoji," according to the study. "We then created a seed list of athletes who are widely considered by sources to be the greatest in their field. We then cleaned our initial list for errors and looked at the frequency to which these athletes appeared, using the resulting percentage as the basis for the GOAT %."
You played 14 games against Kobe Bryant. What did you think of him, back in those early years of his career? John Starks: He came into this league with a lot of confidence. That surprised me the most, being 18 years old and he felt like he belonged right away. Obviously, he looked up to Michael and patterned his whole mentality and game after Jordan, which has been well documented. But I was impressed with his intelligence out there in the court being such a young player. You could tell he was a student of the game, knew the history of the game. And I think that’s what made him so special as a player, he went out there and say ‘You know what? I want to compare myself to the greats.’ So he looked at obviously the best of the game at that time, Michael Jordan, and he went there every single day trying to duplicate MJ. More than anybody he was the one who came as close to MJ in my book to surpass him but quite couldn’t get there because Michael is a different animal. But I respected that in Kobe.
SI: You get asked this question a million times: What is the difference between Kobe and MJ? In the book you say Kobe worked harder but MJ worked smarter. Do you think this was just a way for Kobe to try to be better than Mike, or was it just his attitude about everything else? Tim Grover: It was both. They knew their ways to win, and that was Kobe’s way to win. He needed to constantly outwork everyone, outstudy them, he needed to watch more film. That was the way he was brought up and that was his language of winning. When I started with him in 2007, my biggest challenge was to get him to stop. We actually got to do less. Kobe was always like, “I got to do more.” I was like, let’s see if we can propel this back just a little bit and put different things in different compartments and get you better results and having you do actually a little bit less. It was challenging, but he was open to it.
World Peace appeared on the Fierce Talk with Ryan Garcia podcast where they talked about everything and anything hoops. Among the topics they discussed was the never-ending debate on who’s the real basketball GOAT. The standard for many is the number of titles won. Taking this similar logic, World Peace believes that Russell is the GOAT and not the Chicago Bulls legend. “I think Bill Russell is (the GOAT), honestly. Bill Russell got 11 championships. I look at Michael as one of the greatest. But I think Bill Russell is the greatest. When you can win in your era. That’s what it’s about. Winning in your era. And nobody dominated like that. Not even Michael Jordan.”
Oubre is one of a few players actually playing today that agree to the notion that the game in this day and age is undeniably soft compared to previous decades. As such, he has a pretty strong take on the GOAT debate: “This game today is a little bit more soft. To call anybody a GOAT is disrespectful to… the hard-earned award Mike and Kobe have won.”
“I come from the Jordan era, so I’m biased,” said the 13-time All-Star Wade. “Jordan will always be my GOAT. I played basketball because of Michael Jordan. All of us have our own individual opinions. LeBron is going to be the GOAT for a lot of generations. Jordan is just my GOAT. I made it out of the hood because I saw Jordan play at a level where I said, I want to do some of that.”
“LeBron is one of my good friends,” responded Wade. “I have so much respect for what he’s doing now, what he’s done and what he will eventually do. It will definitely be an argument that needs to be had. If LeBron ends up the all-time leader in points, top five in assists and rebounds, with four, five or six championships, you have to at least have the conversation. But it’s hard to really have the conversation while he’s still putting on that jersey. When he’s done, his statistical line is going to be the greatest we’ve ever seen.”
"LeBron does not have the dominance of Michael Jordan. Six rings. Six championships. Has not lost in his era. We don't even think of any other stars in his era. He owned an entire decade of basketball," said Hollins of Jordan. "So when I say that LeBron is the greatest player that ever played, I believe that is something that he grew into. I believe he got to a point where he surpassed Michael because of the way the NBA is played. "LeBron plays in an era in which five guys have to work in synergy or four guys around one player, in which that player has to make everyone better. The difference that I see between Michael, who is the greatest scorer, and LeBron, who is the better player in my mind, is how LeBron can both score and share the basketball and make guys play above their level. That's where I give the difference in that Michael was more dominant, but LeBron is the better player because of his passing ability."
Anthony Puccio: This is pretty cool. Highest voted GOAT’s in all states across America via @betonline_ag pic.twitter.com/BcI48ygDXz
Who would you say is the GOAT, then? Ray Allen: In my opinion, M.J. is the GOAT. LeBron is a product of M.J., so a lot of what's in LeBron -- in his DNA -- comes from Michael. For anybody that says that LeBron is the GOAT, they're growing up in today's era, and they believe what they believe based on how it feels and what he means to them, and that's OK. But the way M.J. affected the game, man, he had a stranglehold on the league and he struck fear in everyone because he was an unstoppable player.
Hoopsview: Gilbert Arenas on why LeBron James is the GOAT: “If you give Jordan and Kobe those Cavs teams, they wouldn’t have made the playoffs.” (via @WhistleSports)
Tim Reynolds: Most points before turning 36, NBA history 1. LeBron James 34,332 2. Kobe Bryant 31,700 3. Wilt Chamberlain 30,335 4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 29,779 He also already has more points than anyone before turning 37 or 38 in NBA history, too. So yes, No. 1 all-time - well within reach.
He added, “Of course he ascended right to the top just like everybody thought he would. I think he’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime performers. Same with Michael Jordan. Because I was such a kid back in the day when Jordan was around, I looked up to him. “I was a younger guy back then. I appreciate what LeBron’s doing and bringing to the game, he’s unbelievable. But for me, just because Jordan has that mystique, I just got to go Michael Jordan just off the mystique. Both guys are phenomenal,” Austin said.
Only four players in league history were teammates with both Jordan and James: Scott Williams, Larry Hughes, Jerry Stackhouse and Brendan Haywood. HoopsHype was able to connect with all four of them.
“I don’t think it would be fair to give a comparison on them,” Stackhouse, who only played seven games with James in 2010, told HoopsHype. “I played with LeBron at the prime of his career and I played with Michael in the last year of his career. I just think both are unbelievable players. They’re probably one and two in the history of the game. That’s where I’ll leave it.”
WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR CONVERSATIONS LIKE WITH MJ? Larry Hughes: It was great. It’s not too many times you get to take a plane ride and go on trips and gamble with The Boss. That’s what it was. We were gambling with The Boss. We were doing shooting games at the practice arena from half court with The Boss. It was fun. We all competed. We all had a couple of dollars. We didn’t take it too far. You see him with the cigars. You see that stuff on video. I got to experience that. I can verify that that’s how that guy moves around. It was a fun experience for me.
Brendan Haywood: It was great playing with LeBron because he is one of the best teammates ever. He really wants to have everybody included. He wants to have guys on the same page. He wants to do things off the court to get guys engaged with each other, whether it’s taking guys out to the movies or having a room in the hotel where everybody could down and watch TV, eat, play video games. We knew we couldn’t go out in the city but we were still able to get out of the room. He is just thoughtful like that. He is always thinking about how he can help his teammates and he is the best gift-giver ever. We had all the Beats by Dre headphones. If he had a commercial for it, we had like ten of those. If he did Samsung phones, we all had them. If the new LeBron shoes came out, everybody would get them. He is an incredible, thoughtful teammate. It made guys want to run through a wall for him. It made his teammates work even harder. I think he learned a lot of that from the Heat. Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley taught him how to include everybody but he took it to the next level.
Scott Williams: The competitive part of MJ’s game was off the charts. I always considered myself a competitive person. I don’t think anybody that makes it to the professional level in any sport doesn’t have a degree of competitiveness and a feistiness in them. Nobody had that gear like Michael had that gear. It’s been talked about and written about. But during my rookie year, I played with MJ before he had a championship ring. I’ve never seen a guy so hellbent on every single thing that he did, from the moment that he woke up in the morning. I’m not even talking about when he was at the practice facility. I’m just talking about the whole aspect of his day and his night before he goes his eyes to go to sleep. All he could think about was getting an NBA championship. His intensity was off the charts. It was electric. You could sometimes feel the hair on your arms raise up with how intense things would get at moments in practice. I’m not talking about the games! I’m talking about practice! Our training camps were like playoff basketball. It was almost a sickness with this guy. I don’t think people can comprehend what it was like with MJ.
Brendan Haywood: The thing that they most have in common is that they impact winning. But they go about in totally different ways. That is why it’s so unfair that LeBron is always compared to Mike. He doesn’t play like Mike! He wasn’t trying to fully dominate like Mike! LeBron wants to play an overall floor game. Bron is more like Magic Johnson but with next-level athleticism. That allows him to do incredible things. LeBron wants to get the 8, 9, 10 assists. He wants to get the rebounds. He wants to get his 26, 27 points. He isn’t just worried about scoring, though. He’s not trying to destroy you. He’s not worried about how many buckets he gets.
Tom Westerholm: Lol @John Karalis prefaces a question to Thompson with “You’ve obviously played with one the greatest players ever.” “THE greatest player ever,” Thompson interjects.
Kevin Durant: @dkeys7193 Mj is one of one, God level, unmatched, unparalled, a pure master at this s***. I’m still watching his games to learn. Leave me out of it please
Isiah Thomas on LeBron James: "When it's all said and done, it's gonna be hard for people to look back 10 years from now and say 'he wasn’t the best'."
Even after LeBron James claimed his fourth NBA Championship, not everyone is sold on his status as the NBA’s GOAT. In a chat on The Dab Roast podcast, 6x All-Star Shawn Kemp explained why he believes LeBron can never match Jordan on basketball’s hierarchy of greatness. “I’mma say Michael Jordan. I think LeBron James has done great, but only thing Michael Jordan ever did was win. There’s players as myself who haven’t won a championship that were very good. There’s guys who I’ve seen win championships, they’re good players, but they had a good team also around them,” Kemp said. “And I look at Michael Jordan, he played with the Bulls, and he had Scottie Pippen. But without Michael being there, the Bulls wasn’t gonna win the championship. It came from Michael Jordan.”
Dino Radja shared his takes on various topics stretching from the NBA to his 2018 induction in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame talking to the Croatian news website Index.hr. Plenty of strong opinions presented by the retired player, former member of the Boston Celtics. “When the comparisons between LeBron and Jordan start, I vomit,” he argued, “My son assures me that LeBron is better but for me, it’s not a discussion. If he had played twenty years ago, LeBron wouldn’t have been able to do even half of this. Today, when LeBron enters the paint, everyone moves away from him, but Jordan was getting beaten like no one and he still dominated. In front of LeBron were Kobe Bryant and some others. I respect LeBron but Kobe was better.”
Falk claimed that Jordan would easily average 60 points on 75 percent shooting in today’s free-flowing (not to mention hand-checking) era. Perk, who was obviously not buying it, appeared on the latest episode of ESPN’s The Jump and went on a lengthy tirade. “That’s BS. You know, the bad part about it was that he was dead serious,” the one-time NBA champion said. “Look, David Falk might be sitting back sipping too much of that moonshine because to say that Michael Jordan would average 60 points on 75 percent shooting, that is absurd! I wouldn’t even do that when I be going to the LA fitness. I’ll be going getting buckets. “But to say so–to disrespect this generation like that–it’s just disturbing to me. And he’s out of like [saying] Jordan with an average 60 points and 75 percent shooting, that’s just crazy!”
Appearing on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show, I asked Isiah Thomas if a company offered a blank check to he and Jordan for the opportunity to discuss their differences in exchange for an hour-long uninterrupted television special for them to air out their grievances, how much would the check amount to? “Well I don’t need the check; that’s not what I’m about,” Thomas stated. “So you wouldn’t have to pay me anything. And honestly until ‘The Last Dance’, I never knew there was a beef. You know again, I had gone out to dinner with him, I had seen him socially… I never knew that he felt THAT way about me. So again, I have no hard feelings against anyone and when I talk about the greatest players, I’m only talking about it from my perspective. No slight to anyone but, it’s just an acknowledgement of how great LeBron James is and what I’ve been watching. It’s just like the acknowledgement of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Isiah Thomas: “Now in the White community, that might be different. Tom Brady doesn’t have to speak for and Joe Montana doesn’t have to speak for the White community and uplift them in America. In the Black community, it’s always been different; whether it be Joe Louis when he was fighting Max Schmeling and how important that fight was; Jesse Owens winning the gold medal in Germany and how important that was, Tommy Smith [and John Carlos]…so when you look at Muhammad Ali; Muhammad Ali wasn’t the greatest because he could knock people out – Muhammad Ali was the greatest because of what he did outside of the playing field; outside of the ring. So the champion has always carried that mantle; particularly in the NBA – Bill Russell carried it, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar carried it, Dr. J carried it, I carried it and now LeBron is doing it.
Isiah Thomas: So when you look at what the ‘GOAT’ means for us in terms of lifting us up in the society, speaking for the voiceless in our community; you can be a champion on the floor and you can be a champion off the floor. So what he’s done statistically – the numbers don’t lie. But also what he’s done OUTSIDE of the playing field, that doesn’t lie either. So you know, in terms of being a complete basketball player in terms of passing, dribbling, shooting, rebounding… no one has done what he’s done statistically in EVERY single category. Now we’ve had players to dominate one category. But we’ve never had a player that’s come in and dominate it in so many statistical categories across the board. And that’s LeBron James.”
David Falk: "If Michael Jordan played the game today... I think he'd average 60. I think he'd shoot 75% from the floor." ... "
July 3, 2022 | 9:44 pm EDT Update
For the Nets, trading Kevin Durant correctly is a lot more important than doing it quickly. League personnel who spoke to The Post said Nets general manager Sean Marks — and by default team owner Joe Tsai as well — are adamant about getting back All-Star caliber talent in return for Durant. And with their disgruntled star having four years left on his contract, the Nets are in no rush to deal.
League executives who spoke with The Post said Toronto was not only well-positioned, but confident of being able to put together the best package. The Raptors have balked at the notion of putting Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in any deal, although those same executives opined that could be a negotiating ploy by savvy Masai Ujiri, who has a history of pulling off huge trades.
Seemingly every contender has touched base on Durant, with some even showing tepid interest in Kyrie Irving. Philadelphia spoke with the Nets, although a source told The Post “nothing happened there.”
The 76ers — who are currently negotiating with James Harden — are keeping an eye on Irving, a source told The Post. And with former Nets point guard Goran Dragic spurning Dallas to ink a one-year deal with Chicago — according to Boardroom, which is owned by Durant — The Athletic reported that the Mavericks are also showing interest in Irving.
Kellan Olson: Suns have announced their Summer League roster. Ish Wainright is on the squad. Former Colorado guard McKinley Wright IV also in there. Same case as last year with a handful of guys from overseas.
Anthony Slater: James Wiseman played 5-on-5 full contact today for the first time in this reintegration. He remains on track for a likely summer league appearance in Las Vegas at some point. Jonathan Kuminga will meet team in Vegas, could get some action.
July 3, 2022 | 7:04 pm EDT Update
Marc Stein: Frank Ntilikina’s $2 million contract for next season becomes guaranteed tomorrow and the Mavericks’ intention, league sources say, is indeed to retain the former Knicks lottery pick. More NBA from me: marcstein.Substack.com