NBA Rumor: GOAT Debate

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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.”

“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.”

Ray Allen picks MJ as GOAT

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.”

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


“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.”

Rony Seikaly: The GOAT debate is something that people have fun with, but when you’re comparing two great players of two different eras, it’s very difficult to make a call. We’re talking about two immensely talented players and we can go back and forth on who’s better, depending on whether you’re a fan of the 90s or of today. If you’re the latter, you probably don’t know what Michael Jordan did in the 90s and you would automatically think that LeBron James is the best player. If you grew up watching Kobe Bryant, you’d think that he’s the GOAT. The debate is endless, but the only reason I’d give the nod to Michael Jordan is because he had more of an assassin mentality. If he smelled a little bit of blood, he would come after you and you were finished. It’s always the same with Mike Tyson. He was like a shark. LeBron is an extremely talented player, just as talented as Michael, but sometimes he’s more of a Magic Johnson when he has the ball; more of a facilitator and less of a finisher, like Michael Jordan was.

But after two seasons as the head coach for Golden State, the Warriors signed a player who would go on to win back-to-back NBA Finals MVP awards and simultaneously put the finishing touches on the league’s most dangerous team in history. In a conversation with The Ringer’s Logan Murdock, Kerr explained why this player stands above all the rest. “I would say Kevin (Durant) is … when you factor in everything, size, speed, athleticism, I think he’s the most talented basketball player I’ve ever seen in my life,” Kerr said. “It was more just a level of basketball that I’m not sure had ever been reached before.”

Jerry Reinsdorf: “In my mind, anytime anybody wants to talk to me about comparing Michael to LeBron (James), I’m going to tell them to please don’t waste my time. I’m really pleased it showed how great Michael was to people who hadn’t seen him play. I’m truly tired of people trying to compare LeBron to Michael when it’s not even close. They should try to compare LeBron with Oscar Robertson or Magic Johnson. Michael was so head and shoulders over everybody, and that really came out in this documentary. He was a phenomenon. We may never see another like him.”

Cedric Maxwell: LeBron James is the GOAT

Instead, Maxwell has put his name behind Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James in the GOAT debate. In an interview on NBC Sports Boston’s “Arbella’s Early Edition,” the former Finals MVP explained what exactly puts James above Jordan in his mind. “LeBron James is the GOAT now,” NBA legend said. “He’s the GOAT because, not only on the basketball side, but social issues: He’s been involved in every social issue that we look at.” James has been very active and vocal in humanitarian efforts, as well as social issues such as the recent protests over police brutality and racial injustice. “When somebody says, ‘Shut up and dribble’ — LeBron James has put his money where his mouth is, and that to me resonates. That’s why I think more of our players and more NBA people need to step up and find that same courage,” Maxwell added.

Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show on Monday, JR Smith explained in detail what separates LeBron from all-time greats like Jordan and the late Kobe Bryant. “He holds you accountable. One thing about Bron is he leads by example with his work ethic. His biggest attribute is being able to pull people along with his work ethic,” the 6-foot-6 shooter said. “Obviously, it’s easier for the better players to do it. But for my existence, Jordan didn’t do it. Kobe didn’t do it. A lot of players that had that “killer mentality” aren’t that type of person to do it,” he added.

“Jordan and Kobe, they did play defense but they’re scorers. They put up 50, 60, 70 points a night. When you get somebody so well-rounded, rebounding, scoring, passing, dribbling, a good teammate. It’s a totally different atmosphere. He’s a totally different person than those guys. There’s no comparison. Because you can’t compare a lion and a tiger. They’re both cats but they are not the same.” In true fashion, JR Smith finished his analogy with this hilarious quote. “The lion is the king of the jungle. Everybody bows down to the lion. But that don’t stop the tiger from saying ‘I’m a bad m———– too’”.

Not many people can say they played with Michael Jordan and LeBron James. What were the biggest similarities between the two? Larry Hughes: I think the natural ability, the attention to detail, the respect that they ; they were not going to waste their God-given talent. That stands out to me the most… They had a deeper understanding that they weren’t going to let their talent be wasted. And they were going to inspire other people. I mean, even though I played with Bron when he was younger, we still had young guys who were coming to the team that looked up to Bron. It was a situation where he took advantage of that, and I think MJ took advantage of that as well, knowing that he would impact and inspire a lot of kids through a lot of different generations.

More than 20 years after Drexler and MJ last laced it up against each other, Drexler has his own opinion on the GOAT debate. Clyde the Glide believes neither Jordan nor LeBron James should be the only two automatically pegged as the NBA’s greatest player of all time: “I have a real problem with that, because out of all the guys that played the game, for you to have a conversation of these two guys as the GOAT when you’ve got Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, two of the greatest players to ever live – I think you start with those two.”
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