NBA Rumor: GOAT Debate

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Hakeem Olajuwon: Jordan far superior player than LeBron

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.”

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.

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


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