Lately, there has been a lot of talk about The Great One. By that, I mean Michael Jordan. Especially with all of this Dream Team vs 2012 Team USA talk. Many people have been feeding into that fodder–it recently came to a head with the newestDream Team vs 2012 Team USA feature by NBA 2k13. Many people have compared both teams, but more specifically compared Michael Jordan to LeBron James.
There has been talk, most famously by John Salley on ESPN’s popular radio show The Herd, where he stated that Michael Jordan is not in the top five of greatest players of all time. Good show, Mr. Salley. Good show.
Here are the quotes taken from Mr. Salley brought to you by CBS Sports.
“I love Michael. I’m a Michael Jordan fan just like everyone else. I just don’t think he’s the greatest player ever.
“I think the greatest player I’ve ever played against was Magic Johnson. Next, was Larry Bird. Then, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The hardest guy I had to guard: Hakeem Olajuwon. No one can guard Hakeem. And then, Kevin McHale.
“Isiah Thomas was the best player I ever played with. At 6-foot-1, scoring 41 points on one ankle. Should have been on Dream Team 1.
“In 1981, when I went down to visit Georgia Tech, I watched Michael Jordan play and literally get ridiculed for taking a jump shot in the championship game that went off the backboard and they won. People are forgetting that Michael was just one of the players when they went to the Dream Team. It was Clyde Drexler, it was Magic Johnson… these were good players. But he wasn’t the best. I watched Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman push him left and him shoot 32 times… We weren’t worried about him. We knew if we pushed him left and he picked the ball up, he couldn’t pass it.”
That’s not all there is. You have Jim Boeheim coming out and saying that he used to think “Michael Jordan was the best player ever.” That was before he coached LeBron James, apparently. He lauded LeBron for being so coachable and such a great player. Coach K did the same thing as well saying that LeBron was the only player who could ever guard all positions on the floor. The media took these quotes, as they should, and have run with them.
There have been many people who have brought into question the legacy of Michael Jordan because of LeBron James winning a championship this season. LeBron is now back where he was before he played his first game in the public eye. He is supposed to be the one who finally removes Michael from his thrown–and that is, in fact, a possibility. But right now, we’re being a bit premature to call LeBron James the greatest player of all time.
Have we forgotten about the other champions as well? Or has James just surpassed them too. Four months ago, James could receive no credit in the public eye. However, now that he’s a champion that’s all changed. LeBron had a legendary season; most definitely one of the top five of all time. However, that doesn’t mean that consistency doesn’t play a factor in your greatness.
We all know what James can do–he’s the best player in the game today. But he’s only won one championship. Sure, he stuffs the stat sheet, but he’s also been to three finals and has only won one. Michael is a perfect 6 for 6 in this area. He also won his first championship by the seventh year of his career, not the ninth. He’s a much better winner than James with a far worse team.
LeBron James can’t do much more than Michael Jordan could on the floor. He’s a very gifted passer, there’s no doubt. But lets not act as if Michael was terrible at it. He averaged 5.3 assists per game throughout his career. Right now, James is at 7 in his ninth year as an NBA player. Michael Jordan has 10 scoring titles throughout his career and has averaged over 30 points seven times. LeBron? Only twice. Not to mention only one scoring title in nine years. Jordan had seven by that time.
LeBron can guard the one through the five now, but in Jordan’s era there was no way he could guard fives. He’d get destroyed in the post nine out of 10 times. Its that simple. With the likes of Robinson, Ewing, Chambers, and many others James wouldn’t stand a chance. The post game was much more of a factor than it was today.
So, before we crown LeBron the greatest of all time, lets let him finish his career. LeBron James is one hell of a player, but is he better than Michael? Plain and simple. No.