Storyline: LeBron vs. Jordan Debate

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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.

During a recent appearance on ESPN, Johnson had some high praise for James, as he said that the Lakers forward was probably the best “all-around” player of all time. However, Johnson said that when it comes to the greatest player ever, he’s still going with Jordan. “First of all, let’s not take anything away from LeBron James,” Johnson said. “Because LeBron James is a great basketball player, one of the all-time greatest that’s ever played the game. LeBron James to me, when you think about all-around basketball players, he’s probably the best of all time. An all-around basketball player. But when you want to say ‘who’s the greatest ever’ it’s still Michael Jordan.”

While Johnson currently has Jordan ranked ahead of James on his own all-time list, he did leave the door open for James to potentially pass Jordan down the road, as James is still in the midst of his playing days. “LeBron James’ chapter is not closed yet,” Johnson added. “He still has some basketball to play, so maybe he has a chance to catch [Jordan] later on if he can get some more championships under his belt. But at the end of the day, they’re both great and they play they game the right way. They made their teammates better, they won championships, and thank god for LeBron because right now that’s what we’re watching. It’s his time. It’s his era, and he’s dominating his era.”

Vince Carter: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, then LeBron James

Vince Carter gives his NBA goat rankings between Michael Jordan, Lebron, and Kobe. He also talks with Matt and Stak about what is left for Lebron to accomplish in his career. Matt Barnes: So for the record, you’ve got MJ, then Kobe, then LeBron? Vince Carter: Yes. Barnes: Does LeBron have the opportunity in your mind to possibly jump Kobe? Carter: He has an opportunity based on what he gets done. If he gets to the Finals again… You’re just gonna give him more credit. Now, ten times in the Finals?! That’s insane if he can get to the Finals double-digit. Wait until it’s all said and done, then it’s fair to have a real debate. Let’s see what LeBron does and then we’ll go from there.

James, often compared to Jordan in the best-of-all-time debate, later tweeted that his excitement about playing with MJ didn’t mean he preferred it over competing against him. “I didn’t say I envisioned MJ as a teammate not an adversary,” James tweeted Monday night. “A question was asked ‘Do I think I could have been a teammate of his and compliment his game.’ I love the greats and would have loved to play with them all during their runs because I (am) a historian of the game but I also would die to compete vs every single one of them too! Don’t ever get it twisted!”

“Me personally, the way I play the game – team first – I feel like my best assets work perfectly with Mike,” James said. “Mike is an assassin. When it comes to playing the game of basketball, scoring the way he scored the ball, (then) my ability to pass, my ability to read the game plays and plays and plays in advance.” James grew up a Bulls fan watching Jordan in Akron, Ohio, and paid respect to Jordan in his tweet: “Nevertheless MJ Thank You for being my angel, inspiration, superhero!!”

How do you rank Jordan, Kobe and LeBron in terms of greatness? Matt Barnes: Those are the top three players in the history of the game. It bothers when I see the disrespect. ESPN just came out with a list, and they had Kobe at nine. When you ask players, they’ll tell you, but it’s always the ‘experts’ that make these lists. My list would be Jordan at number one, Kobe number two and LeBron number three. LeBron can pass Kobe if he can capture another title. That would be a title with three different teams. He’s moving up the scoring list, he’s on the assist list and as far as all-around, he’s one of the greatest we’ve ever seen. Right now, it’s Mike number one, Kobe number two and LeBron three, but depending on how long he sticks around, LeBron can pass Kobe and he’ll definitely be in the discussion with Jordan.

NBA Central: “He only had really one job. And that was to just score. And he did that at an amazing, amazing rate. But I don’t feel like his way of winning then would translate to what it is now. Guys wouldn’t want to play with him.” -Channing Frye on Michael Jordan (NBC Sports North West). Evan Fournier: @channingfrye bro you bugging for real. Lol. Channing Frye: Boris Biaw is the best French player of all time. Evan Fournier: Lol na you aint getting away from that statement with this s—.

Golden State’s Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall, Marquese Chriss and others grew up debating who was the best player of all time — Jordan or James? — in their school cafeterias during lunch. Poole always sided with Jordan. His father, a Chicago native, had told him stories about Jordan’s greatness. But for Paschall and Chriss, James deserved the nod. They didn’t feel comfortable arguing in favor of someone they hadn’t witnessed in person. “I mean, I didn’t get to experience what other guys got to experience as far as seeing MJ or the early Kobe years,” said Paschall, who, at 23, is older than five of his teammates. “However, I legit saw every aspect of LeBron’s legacy. That goes a long way.”


The latest was MJ’s former teammate Dennis Rodman, who described what he feels is the biggest difference between the two basketball superstars. “He [LeBron James] wasn’t bought up this way. I had that desire to win, I didn’t give a s**t what it took. I’ll do the dirty work, I don’t give a s**t. At the end of the day that ring is more important. For Mike [Michael Jordan] when he came up he had one thing in doing – I’m going if I didn’t beat your a** and do my job,” the ex-NBA champion said.

Sanders was asked during an appearance on “The Kyle Kulinski Show” who he’d pick between James and Jordan, and unsurprisingly this is another area where his opinion differs from the current president: Kulinski: Last question: Michael Jordan or LeBron James? Sanders: LeBron James. Kulinski: Is that because of the policy he just supported with you? Sanders: Well actually, yes, I think LeBron has been willing to do what a lot of athletes are not and get involved in the political process, put money into education, and I respect that.

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was asked Thursday what he thought of the Los Angeles Lakers star’s recent remarks about being the GOAT and made an interesting analogy while wondering aloud why James would make those comments with more basketball ahead of him. “His career’s not over,” Ainge said on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich.” “I’d just like to — why he’s saying that, I don’t know. Maybe he thinks that that sells. Maybe he’s taking the Donald Trump approach and trying to sell himself. I don’t know.”

The image of James sitting in what amounted to an ice tomb while being showered with praise by his peers may not do James’ greatness justice. What he’s doing at 33 years old is essentially uncharted territory for any kind of athlete—in any sport. “The sports-science community is just in awe of this guy,” says Dr. Michael Joyner of the Mayo Clinic, one of the world’s leading experts in human performance and physiology. “People should just recognize what they’re watching in LeBron. It’s different than Jordan. People need to get out of Jordan this, Jordan that. LeBron is different.”

Joyner isn’t alone. Dr. Marcus Elliott, the Harvard-trained founder and director of P3, has assessed the biomechanics of some of the best athletes in the world at his state-of-the-art lab nestled along the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Players from Andrew Wiggins to Andre Drummond to Dwight Howard to Luka Doncic have come through Elliott’s lab to find out where they score on 3D motion-capture and force-plate technologies. While he has yet to assess James, he knows what he’s seeing. “He’s hit the quadruple lottery when it comes to genetics,” Elliott says from afar. “Not just the physical side. You can’t get to where he is without being head and shoulders above the competition from a mental standpoint. It’s clear he just owns a different system than, say, Michael Jordan.”

JLEIII: Doing radio has allowed you to stay close to the game and watch LeBron at his absolute best. Where do you stand on the Jordan vs. LeBron debate? Rick Mahorn: I got to go with LeBron James. The reason why? LeBron James plays five positions, and that’s when it becomes really scary. Who can check him? He plays five positions. Jordan could play three, at best. … You have to respect what Jordan did. He’s a beast at what he did. Would he be able to play in this era of basketball? He’d probably get to the foul line more than these guys playing get to it now. To me, some guys revolutionized the game or changed the game, and I think LeBron is a game-changer. So is Jordan. Jordan was a game-changer. But if it’s me picking, you can’t find many people who are 6-foot-8, 250 pounds, and can play every position. That’s scary.

Pippen joined ESPN’s “The Jump” on Friday to respond to Isiah Thomas saying last month on NBA TV that he’d pick James over Jordan. After calling out Thomas for “hating” on Jordan, Pippen explained why he doesn’t like comparing James to his former teammate. “Michael Jordan is the greatest player to ever put on shoes and play in our game. No doubt about it,” Pippen said. “I’m always asked questions to compare him to LeBron. I try to make the best of it, but really, the comparison shouldn’t ever be made. They both play two different positions.

“The way LeBron James play – Michael Jordan was never asked to play that way, because I took that away from him. I was the point forward. I was the facilitator. Michael Jordan was a scorer. He was a defender. He played the game as complete as LeBron James did when he needed to, but he was asked to score the basketball and that’s what he was great at.” But if he had to choose between them, Pippen would go for Jordan every time. “There’s no game that I would ever play in and pick LeBron James over Michael Jordan,” he said. “Not if I’m trying to win.”

Even though Michael Jordan retired in 2003, the debate over whether he was better than LeBron James still dominates NBA talking points seemingly every day. As a result, there are plenty of opinions to go around. Count retired Detroit Pistons big man Bill Laimbeer among those who thinks James is better than Jordan. “I’ll take LeBron James, absolutely,” Laimbeer said to Etan Thomas on The Rematch podcast (h/t Marlowe Alter of the Detroit Free Press, via USA Today).
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ESPN cancels Kevin Durant show

Kevin Durant’s show has been cancelled by ESPN, The Post has learned. “The Boardroom,” featuring Durant, Jay Williams and Durant’s agent Rich Kleiman, will not be renewed after being on ESPN+ for two seasons. While there are no public metrics for shows on this platform, ESPN is able to internally identify engagement and its impact on the $4.99-per-month subscription-based service.
“The Boardroom is not being renewed following two seasons on ESPN+,” ESPN said in a statement to The Post. “Thirty Five Ventures are great partners and we look forward to continuing to discuss any future projects.” “The Boardroom” was publicized at its start as a program to “bring fans behind the scenes of the modern boardroom, showcasing the evolution of sports business through the minds of athletes, sports executives and tech moguls alike.” It didn’t make that many waves, except for one episode that featured Stephen A. Smith.
A woman whose car was left stranded along a Florida interstate when her tire blew out got a little unexpected help from former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, sheriff’s officials say. O’Neal, who lives in the Orlando area, was traveling on Interstate 75 near Gainesville on Monday when he saw the woman pull onto the side of the road, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office said on a Facebook post.
July 14, 2020 | 2:38 pm EDT Update
Anderson went on the Virginia basketball podcast “J Willy Show” on Monday and accepted congratulations on joining the Nets. Granted, they haven’t signed him yet; but considering he gets daily practice updates from Joe Harris and is reportedly the replacement for Wilson Chandler, it strains credulity to think a deal isn’t in the offing. “I just got to Orlando (Sunday), following protocol. I had a negative test, waiting on the next result. I have to get another one,” said Anderson, 27, currently quarantining in an Orlando-area hotel.
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
“Very strict protocol, but it’s all worth it just to make sure entering the bubble everything is clean and clear for everybody who’s already in there, and myself as well. So I’m back in Orlando right now.” Anderson spent most of the season in the G League, first with Toronto’s affiliate Raptors 905 and then with the Long Island Nets. He averaged 20.6 points and 6.6 rebounds to earn All-NBA G League honors, and even got a 10-day contract with Brooklyn.
July 14, 2020 | 1:26 pm EDT Update

Victor Oladipo's remaining salary in dispute

Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo is in an unresolved situation over $3 million in salary, multiple sources told ESPN. Under the rules the NBA established for its season restart in Orlando, players who were healthy but opted not to play would have to forgo their remaining salary for the season. Two weeks ago, in an interview with The Athletic, Oladipo said he was healthy but had decided not to play to ensure recovery from tearing his quad tendon in January 2019.
In the days since, lawyers from the player’s union and the NBA have reviewed the situation and there is dispute over where Oladipo’s situation falls. The union believes Oladipo, who went to Orlando with the Pacers and then cleared quarantine so he could practice, should be paid his remaining salary, sources said. The league, largely in an effort to set a precedent in case other players who are deemed healthy want to leave Orlando and no longer play, believes Oladipo has opted out and should not be paid, sources said. His public comments about feeling healthy has only solidified the league’s position on the matter, sources said. The Pacers support Oladipo’s decision and are willing to pay him the salary whether he plays or not, sources said.
Carmelo Anthony was by no means one of the bigger players in the NBA before the restart in the bubble at Disney World. But it appears he’s joining names like Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic and Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol — he looks slimmer than he did before the league took a pause. Photos of the Portland Trail Blazers legend have made the rounds on social media and “Skinny Melo” has been dubbed. Maybe it’s the right move since he won’t have to do as much work inside the paint with Jusuf Nurkic back and healthy.
The two accomplished NBA stars have traded insults in recent years. Now, Basketball Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green have a chance to exchange barbs directly. Barkley and Green will be part of “The Arena,” a new one-hour long NBA show that TNT will launch July 20, air nightly through July 24 and then continue into the restart of the NBA regular season (July 30) and playoffs (Aug. 17). Cari Champion will host the show that will also include NBA star Dwyane Wade.
A Canadian marketing representative who allegedly had an agreement to represent Zion Williamson and purportedly paid his stepfather $400,000 while Williamson was enrolled at Duke said he was conned by someone acting like they were in the New Orleans Pelicans star’s inner circle. In a court filing last week, Gina Ford’s attorneys included documents that they said showed Williamson’s stepfather, Lee Anderson, solicited and accepted a $400,000 payment in October 2018 from Slavko Duric, a Canadian marketing representative.
Duric told Sports Illustrated on Monday that he was contacted by someone in 2018 who was allegedly acting as a middle man for Williamson’s family and friend, James “Chubby” Wells. Duric said he was offered a percentage of Williamson’s future earnings in exchange for a $100,000 payment to Williamson’s family. “I tried to do something I would characterize as outside the lines,” Duric told SI. “I allegedly was involved early. I was at the front of the line through a person who said he knew the family. Somebody who said he was [Williamson’s stepdad] Lee Anderson spoke with me. Someone who said they were Chubby Wells spoke with me a dozen times.”
July 14, 2020 | 12:38 pm EDT Update
When the Raptors won the title in 2019, it was the only time that the NBA champions did not have a lottery pick on their roster since the league changed to a weighted lotto system in 1990. In fact, the 2019 Raptors had the lowest drafted players among NBA champions since the Houston Rockets in 1993-94. (Although those numbers were a bit impacted by the fact that Mario Elie was selected at No. 160 overall, fully one hundred spots later than the final selection eligible in the modern draft).
July 14, 2020 | 12:02 pm EDT Update
Keith Pompey: Simmons was asked if BB came to him about the position switch or did he go to the coach. He said this: “You just got to work with different things. You got to try different things out to see if they work. We are not at a stage where not a stage where we can be comfortable yet … “So I’ve been having fun in that position, whether you guys say the four whatever it is. At the end of the day,once you just see me on the floor, I’m making plays. “
Monty Williams has always enjoyed watching historical documentaries, thanks to his thirst to learn about various people’s backgrounds. So while scanning Amazon Prime shortly after the killing of George Floyd, “The Uncomfortable Truth” piqued Williams’ interest. White filmmaker Loki Mulholland, the son of Freedom Rider Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, digs into America’s history of systemic racism — and confronts his family’s history of slave ownership. When it ended, Williams immediately began texting friends and family — including his young-adult daughters — to suggest they carve out time for their own viewing. The coach knew that, whenever the Suns could safely gather again, he would recommend the film to players and “hope it has a thought-provoking impact on them.”
Williams took things one step further. Instead of practicing inside a Walt Disney World gym Sunday, the team watched “The Uncomfortable Truth” together. It was the latest example of Williams’ leadership during the ongoing social-justice movement, by encouraging education, understanding and love while guiding his roster primarily comprised of young Black men. “We cannot change out history, but we can learn from it,” Williams said Monday on a videoconference with reporters. “I’m not quite sure if we’re learning from it. I’ll do my part. This is an action for me to be with some guys that I care about deeply, and share with them some things that have impacted me.”
July 14, 2020 | 11:12 am EDT Update
One of the goals for Reimagining Justice is to deconstruct America’s War on Drugs, and that’s a massive thing. How do we turn that around? Al Harrington: We’re really focused on trying to bring home these people who are sitting in jail, still, for marijuana possession. Obviously, there are people now who’ve made millions and almost billions of dollars from it and, you know, there are still people locked up. And after these people have served their time, they have no opportunities because they have to work around with this blemish on their record where it doesn’t allow them to apply for jobs.
Right, they still have that on their record. Al Harrington: And we have to honestly do a better job of holding police accountable for the way they police cannabis. Because I can tell you, for sure, that the way they police cannabis in Beverly Hills compared to where they do it in Compton is totally different. So, there’s a lot of things to peel back in regards to reform in general … At the end of the day, there are still people dealing with this.
Storyline: Marijuana Use
How do you feel about the turn on marijuana in sports, particularly with the NBA? It feels like things are changing around the country but sports is coming slow. Al Harrington: Things are definitely changing. The MLB is no longer testing. The NFL is still testing with no penalty, which is kind of weird. The NBA is kind of the last to the party, but they’re going to not test for cannabis in the bubble with the mental ride that they’re about to go through. Change is happening slowly but surely. When we get the schedule to change and start to do real research on stuff like that, that’s when we’ll be off to the races in regards to opening up cannabis to all of sports.
July 14, 2020 | 9:34 am EDT Update
Chris Grenham: The entire Celtics roster surprised Kara Lawson last night by wearing Duke t-shirts, which made her cry. “These men have changed my life. I have loved my time with the Boston Celtics. Our players are authentic, intelligent, creative and passionate men.” pic.twitter.com/ZqNXHiKEVE

July 14, 2020 | 8:40 am EDT Update