While the argument may never be solidified as it is based solely on what an individual’s opinion is rather than cold hard facts, it does not make the arguments any less entertaining.
The latest person to chime in on the GOAT debate is one of Michael Jordan’s biggest rivals, Hall of Famer Gary Payton who had a lot to say during his latest appearance on Scoop B Radio with Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson.
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Gary Payton Chimes In on the Jordan & Lebron Debate
“Two totally different basketball players,” Payton said of Jordan and LeBron during a recent appearance on Scoop B Radio.
“Jordan was a guy that he was going to make big shots. He’s going to take the ball every time and shoot it every time he has to. I think LeBron is an all-around basketball player.”
The GOAT argument has so many layers to it which is why it is a near-impossible argument to win. You can be the greatest scorer, greatest passer, greatest rebounder and the list goes on. Payton however thinks LeBron checks all the boxes.
“LeBron James by far. He does everything,” Payton said of who is a better all-around player between Jordan and LeBron.
“He passes the ball better than Jordan, He can dribble it a little bit better than Jordan… shooting wise, I don’t think so, rebounding I think he did.”
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Gary Payton Is One of Michael Jordan’s Biggest Rivals
Payton is revered as one of MJ’s biggest rivals and the two famously squared off in the 1996 NBA Finals when Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, took on his Seattle Supersonics.
Jordan lit the Sonics up during the first three games as the Chicago Bulls would coast to a 3-0 lead and looked like they were cruising towards another title.
“I couldn’t guard him until Game 4 and I said, “Forget this injury. We’re down 3-0, let’s try it,” The Glove said to Scoop B.
Payton, who was the 1996 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, specifically went to Sonics head coach George Karl and requested the defensive assignment on Jordan and it worked. Seattle would win the next two games although they would go on to lose the series to the Bulls 4-2.
“We just didn’t plan it right. I think we should’ve let me go against him from Game 1.”
Gary Payton Thinks LeBron Is More Michael Than Magic
While Payton doesn’t think LeBron and Jordan are comparable as players he does think the reigning NBA Finals MVP is likened to another Hall of Famer, that being Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson.
“LeBron is more like Magic,” Payton said to Scoop B.
“He can bring the ball down and play all different positions, he passes the ball and he makes everybody around him better.”
Jordan and LeBron will remain on basketball’s Mount Rushmore, there is nothing that can change that. The book on Jordan has already been closed while LeBron’s story is still being written. The individual accolades along with the team success have stamped both of them as legends in the game.
In the minds of many older NBA fans, nothing can ever change the fact that Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever. However, LeBron is slowly but surely closing the gap in terms of championships as he now has four rings compared to MJ’s six.
LeBron winning his fifth NBA title this year could swing the narrative in his favor.