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." ... "
David Falk: "The closest player to me to Michael was Kobe Bryant, in terms of his intensity, his athleticism, his burning desire to win."
SiriusXM NBA Radio: "I don't think the depth of talent today is nearly as deep as it was in Michael's era" Michael Jordan's Agent David Falk explains why you can't compare Michael Jordan to today's players.
Wade recently explained why it doesn’t matter who is the GOAT because we will never see another LeBron James or another Michael Jordan and we should really appreciate the things we witnessed with MJ and what we’re witnessing with Bron now. “When we talk about the GOAT conversations, it doesn’t matter who is the GOAT. He (James) is one-of-one, we will never see another him, we will never see another him, we will never see another Jordan, we will never see another Kareem. No one will ever win 11 championships like Bill Russell. Or I think. Maybe one day somebody will win 12. I just want to enjoy watching and I told LeBron this; this is the first time I’ve ever watched you as a real fan. This is the first time I’ve watched him as a total fan and I texted him, I said ‘bro, you’re f—ing good,” like he’s an animal; he’s one of the best basketball players that’s ever played the game because of the way he plays the game. You know not many players have ever played the game the way he does it and it’s just special to watch.”
Former Houston Rockets star Hakeem told CNBC that it’s always been Jordan for him, and apparently, his opinion won’t change when it comes to this debate on who is the most superior player he ever faced. “When people start comparing him with Jordan, then that’s not a fair comparison. Jordan was a far more superior player in a very tough league, and he was very creative. That’s not taking away anything from LeBron because he is a great player, but it is not a fair comparison because Jordan is a far superior player.” Hakeem Olajuwon, via CNBC
RW: Do you think the title with the Lakers puts LeBron over the top in the G.O.A.T. debate? Mike Penberthy: I don’t know if it’s possible to compare eras. As a player, the NBA calls the game differently from a referee standpoint and the gameplay is played differently in all the eras. What rules are you comparing these guys in? I think [Michael] Jordan was the greatest in his era. I think Magic [Johnson] and [Larry] Bird were the best in their era. I think Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], who doesn’t get any love, I’ve always thought Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the greatest basketball player to ever walk the earth because of what he did from the time he was 15 until the time he was 40.
In a recent interview with Shannon Sharpe, the 2x NBA Champion finally broke his silence on James and the GOAT debate, bringing a unique perspective to the table. “You can’t really quantify it. What LeBron has done is in its own category, what Kobe did, what Jordan, Kareem, Bill… People get very selective, ‘well he only did…’… these are feats that never will be… nobody will be 6-0 in the finals, it just ain’t gonna happen, that’s crazy. 10 finals and counting, I don’t think nobody’s gonna do that. They both have a bunch of MVP awards. They’ve got all the trophies, those guys, Kobe and… everybody’s talking about the GOAT, I’m just trying to get into the building. It will be scholarly debates over this for decades. I know LeBron wants it that way. Jordan was our hero, we all watched Jordan, we all know that ‘okay this is what I’m up against and it is what it is’, but for him to actually create a lane for his own self and then they say ‘he’s arguably the greatest of all time’, there’s nothing else to talk about.”
Who is the GOAT? LeBron or MJ? Collin Sexton: There are three of them, you can't really say one is the GOAT because of the different time eras. Gotta say Kobe, LeBron, MJ. Don't think there's just one person, don't know how LeBron would've played in MJ's era or Kobe in MJ's era. They're the GOATs in their eras.
Isiah Thomas: I as a elder in the basketball community recognize and credit the “evolution” of our #nba sport. I share my knowledge, experience and education with all @KingJames @kaj33 #Goat Status #on and #off the floor. Let it be known!
He sees some similarities between Magic and LeBron James, who won his fourth NBA Finals MVP Award last week with his third different team. Bertka, who still works for the Lakers as a special assistant and consultant at age 93, served as coach Pat Riley’s assistant during the era of Showtime. “Magic was a very unique athlete and basketball player,” Bertka said. “His intangibles were outstanding — his knowledge of the game and competitive spirit and leadership qualities, and what he was able to do as a 6-foot-9 and 215-pound point guard. But LeBron can also play point, or the two-guard, or the three, or four or even the five. He has great versatility as an athlete, but he also has those same intangibles as Magic. That was especially evident this season with the way his leadership and play and inspiration were key factors in our winning the championship. LeBron now may be considered the greatest to ever play the game. He’s getting some attention for that even over (Michael) Jordan.”
After James won his fourth ring in 10 tries, the age-old debate once again sprung up – is James the “greatest of all time” (or GOAT)? According to his former teammate Chris Bosh on Twitter, that debate holds absolutely no importance to LeBron James: “One person who also doesn’t want to talk about GOATs? Bron himself. He’s been a team-first guy since Akron—that’s what makes him great. Kobe, too: ‘Let’s just enjoy each other’s greatness,’ he said. I used to think people weren’t listening to those guys – the same players they were arguing over – but now I think they just don’t care. That’s why I can’t act like the question holds any weight the next time I hear it. If you’re looking to sell papers or get clicks, I promise there are better ways to do it.”
Marreese Speights: First of all, I didn't make the graphic with MJ and Kobe. I just shared it. I want to make that clear. Now, I'm a little bit older. I'm an ‘80s baby, so I kinda grew up watching Michael Jordan play. The reason I tweeted that is because it feels like the younger generation is disrespecting and forgetting the older players who paved the way, especially MJ. For me, being an NBA player and watching him as I was growing up, you can't do that, bro. That's disrespecting the game.
Marreese Speights: I'm not taking nothing away from LeBron. When LeBron is done playing, he will be one of the top-three or top-two greatest players of all-time. But you cannot disrespect these older guys like MJ and Kobe Bryant. Those guys really worked on their game, and their NBA Finals record shows that. Bron went to the Finals in nine of 10 seasons. Cool. But MJ went to the Finals and won the shit six outta six times! Kobe won five of seven times! You know what I mean? So let's keep that respect on MJ and Kobe's name. Don't try to bring them down to boost up LeBron. You can't do that. These younger guys need to stop disrespecting the older players.
Marreese Speights: To me, Jordan is the best player to ever play the game because the man just dominates. Early in his career, he didn’t win like he was supposed to. But that’s the case with just about everybody early in their career; look at Bron early in his career. Jordan won three championships and said, 'Forget it, I'mma go play baseball,' came back and won three more! Are you kidding me?! I feel like that's something a lot of young people don’t know -- or they didn’t know that until they watched “The Last Dance” recently. Do you know how hard that is?! He left the sport and then had another three-peat once he came back! Again, you just have to put respect on MJ’s name and Kobe’s name.
In a conversation with Bill Simmons and Ryen Russillo on the Bill Simmons Podcast, Lakers veteran Jared Dudley recalled the time he and LeBron watched “The Last Dance” together. Even with MJ’s greatness on display, not once did Bron ever admit the Bulls legend was better than him. “No. I never heard him say a comment like that. He was just so like ‘Michael’s a bad boy’. He loved the Rodman series…,” Dudley said.
Meanwhile, Jordan was the best perimeter player of the ’90s. And the second-best was … John Stockton? Clyde Drexler? Grant Hill for that one year? Especially after Magic Johnson retired in 1991, nobody came anywhere close. Instead, Jordan’s era was one where Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and a young Shaquille O’Neal were the dominant forces. Malone and Barkley were the players who beat him out for MVP awards, while Olajuwon pushed Jordan down to third in 1993 and Robinson finished second, third and third at various points. No sane person considered another perimeter player ahead of Jordan on their MVP ballot from 1991 to 1998. In the two years Jordan (mostly) sat out, 193 of the 202 first-place MVP votes went to the bigs I listed above. Just nine went to perimeter players of any stripe. The six bigs I named above were the top six players in the 1995 MVP vote; only then did other perimeter players become a topic.
Meanwhile, the gap between Jordan and every other perimeter player in basketball was simply massive. I’m not going to slow your roll with a giant chart here, but the top 60 seasons in BPM from 1988-89 to 1997-98 include 37 by power forwards and centers. Eight of the others are by Jordan. Just 15 are from other perimeter players. In other words, Jordan was so good that he was the best player even though the league at that time was set up for bigs to be the best players. He was so good that he overcame the gravitational forces yanking on every other perimeter player. By contrast, in the peak 10 seasons of the LeBron Era – from 2008-19 to 2017-18 – every one of the top 19 seasons is by a perimeter player. (In addition to James’s five entries, we have Curry, Durant, Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Dwyane Wade campaigns.). Only six of the top 60 seasons were by a big … 90% of them came from perimeter players.
Metta World Peace sure has a way with words. His unbridled vocabulary was on full display recently when he declared Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James as the GOAT, while also comparing him to extra-terrestrials. World Peace took to Twitter to make his bold claim: @KingJames is the goat. Never thought I would say that over my brother 24 and my favorite mj. I was an Allstar in mj Jersey 23. I changed my number for one season to honor a legend. But the King is the greatest athlete to ever touch this galaxy. Better than the aliens too
Nick Young: To me MJ never went up against a super star besides a older magic in the finals he’s played against stars this the first time ever bron playing against a non super star team in the finals ... what I mean by super stars is Kd curry Duncan ppl that are top 3 in they position ever
Wade Baldwin IV: I know I know the dramatics I’m going to hear!! I knowwwwwww. Lebron is just across the board better than Jordan. I knowwwww it hurts the soul I know.
“I admire his insatiable appetite to be on top and stay on top,” said Thomas. “I’ve never seen a player dominate so many statistical categories. We’ve had players dominate certain areas, but we’ve never seen a player that truly does it all. And he’s done it, without fail, for 17 years. For now, Kareem is the best that’s ever done it. But by the time he’s done, LeBron James will be the best we have ever seen play the game of basketball.”
Getting a vote every year of his career, LeBron also tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most seasons receiving an MVP vote:
Ben Golliver: Lakers coach Frank Vogel on LeBron James as No. 1 all-time in playoff wins: “Nobody impacts winning more than LeBron James. That’s true for this season: That’s why he should be MVP. Honestly, it’s probably true in the history of the game. No one impacts winning more than LeBron.”
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