Posted on: June 2, 2011 7:50 pm
Magic Johnson says that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Nobody knows exactly why, but former Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen decided to state publicly last week that Miami Heat forward LeBron James "may be the greatest player to ever play the game."
Of course, that comment was taken by virtually everyone as a snub on legendary Bulls guard Michael Jordan, and rightfully so.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson, one of the league's all-time greatest players, became the latest to take sides against Pippen's statement publicly.
"I have tried not to comment on what Scottie Pippen said," Johnson wrote in a message on Twitter. "But Michael is the greatest ever - point blank."
Johnson's voice gets added to a chorus of those disagreeing with Pippen, as the response to his comments came fast and strong.
Former Bulls forward Horace Grant, teammate of Jordan and Pippen, came to Jordan's defense, saying that he "totally disagree[d]" with Pippen and that Jordan was "the best basketball player to ever play the game."
Former Detroit Pistons guard Isiah Thomas jumped into the mix too, stating that James has a chance of eclipsing Jordan but that he isn't there yet.
James himself said that he had "a long way" to go to be mentioned among basketball's greats.
Look there is no debate here. Jordan is the greatest of all time.
But Johnson's words do carry a special weight, though, because his prime predates Jordan's prime. In the zoomed-out narrative of the NBA, the Larry Bird / Magic Johnson era gives way to the Michael Jordan era. Yes, Jordan and Johnson were colleagues -- the Bulls beat the Lakers in the 1991 Finals, of course -- but Johnson is inarguably Jordan's elder from a historical standpoint.
Whenever these debates come up, players invariably favor their idols or the guys that came before them. If not that, then they favor their fiercest competitors or the players whom they could never defeat. Rarely do they favor the players that came after them. It's a difficult mental proposition for someone that stood atop the game to reconcile the idea that someone younger than him could be better.
But that's the power of Jordan's greatness. It doesn't matter if you played before him, against him, after him or all of the above. He was the greatest that you ever saw, at least if you're thinking straight and remembering things accurately. Who knows what Pippen's excuse is.
Posted on: June 1, 2011 5:32 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 6:14 pm
Shaquille O'Neal's larger than life personality set him apart from the NBA's other great big men. Posted by Ben Golliver.
There are bits and pieces of all of the league’s premier big men in O’Neal. His dominance on offense was matched only by Wilt Chamberlain. The shattered backboards were Daryl Dawkins redux. His rebounding drew comparisons to Moses Malone, his shot-blocking instincts to Bill Russell. His jump hook wasn’t nearly as deadly as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook but he made it work. Ditto his footwork and short turnarounds, loosely and somewhat hopelessly co-opted from Hakeem Olajuwon. O'Neal has even carried the philanthropic torch passed down by David Robinson.
What O’Neal possessed that none of those big men had was a natural, authentic, instantaneous bond with both basketball media and fans. His goofy, oversized, larger-than-life persona made him the center of the NBA’s attention for more than a decade. It's quite possible that personality and his off-court exploits will come to define him even more than his on-court production.
When it comes to pure marketability, O’Neal was the heir to Michael Jordan, but with a key difference. “Be Like Mike” was the ultimate one-way road. Jordan was omnipresent and yet, oddly, inaccessible. The enduring image of Jordan is his competitive stare. He was an old-style hero in the Mt. Rushmore sense.
O’Neal was not that. He cast himself, against all odds, as the everyman. O’Neal never cared if he was carefully packaged or not. He helped turn the phrase “self-promoter” from a slur into a full-fledged business plan. He was who he was – whether you, or his critics, liked it or not. He rapped poorly on his own terms, appeared in terrible movies on his own terms, “sold out” to Hollywood and the Los Angeles Lakers on his own terms, shacked up with a reality TV star on his own terms and, through all of it, made himself appear totally accessible, on his own terms.
He was able to accomplish this because he developed a unique brand of fearlessness: He was never afraid of being the punchline because he was always in on the joke. O’Neal wasn’t burdened with the world that faced Russell. He never took himself too seriously or criticism too personally, like Abdul-Jabbar. He learned to deal with the attention his size and skill attracted without turning on the media or turning into a recluse, like so many big men that came before him. He defied every stereotype constructed for star NBA centers up to that point: he was too cuddly to be a freak; too happy to be a monster.
In doing so, O’Neal established himself as a super-sized superhero, paving the way for modern athletes to re-think their interactions with fans. An early adopter of Twitter, O’Neal, true to form, announced his retirement in a video appeal directly to his fans which, conveniently, helped get the video delivery service into headlines across the country. A shrewd marketer but one, always, without pretense.
If Jordan was the greatest manufactured NBA commodity of all time, O’Neal stands as the league's most effective self-promoter. Jordan’s aura sold you his shoes, underwear and sports drink; Shaq sold himself … and whatever products go along with him. Legions of professional athletes – across all sports – have followed his path. It feels like there's no turning back.
It’s a credit to O’Neal’s personality that we never tired of it. Despite the injury-plagued seasons, his weight problems, the endless string of nicknames –The Big Aristotle, Diesel, Shaq Fu, Big Daddy – and the regrettable forays into reality television, we can’t get enough, even after all these years.
O’Neal may be leaving the NBA but he’s not about to disappear from the planet. He will make sure of that. Shaq isn't going anywhere whether we like it or not.
Posted on: June 1, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 11:27 am
Posted by Matt Moore
The best thing about Scottie Pippen saying LeBron might one day surpass Jordan as the greatest ever is that now every single person ever affiliated with the NBA in any meaningful capacity is being asked about it, often by reporters. We have such a moment today where Isiah Thomas was asked to weigh in on it. Thomas and Jordan never got along, not really, but the former Detroit Bad Boy and Knicks disaster of a GM has Jordan's back. From ESPN New York:
“I think LeBron has a chance to eclipse Jordan if he continues to improve his game, but where they are right now, you still have to take Jordan as being the better player,” Thomas said. “Now, six years from now, if LeBron continues to add different facets to his game, then maybe you can have that argument and you can have that debate.via Isiah: Not sure if LeBron will ever surpass MJ - Knicks Blog - ESPN New York.
The problem here is we can't really look into the future and see how things would shake out. We've got no way of knowing if James is going to continue his climb to the apex of his career, and add a single, let alone multiple titles. We can only really appreciate what James is doing right now. Everyone gets caught up in comparisons and you'll never beat history except when someone else is being compared to you. Really, we should just take advantage of being able to watch a great player functioning at a high level. Unless he fails. Then we'll mock him. Because that's how this works.
It should be noted that it shouldn't surprise anyone that Thomas lacks the capacity to see down the road, to look into the future and see how things will be. Because that's pretty much how he ran the Knicks. Give guys with questionable work ethic tons of money and don't worry about what will happen in four years with the size of those contracts. If Thomas could, then maybe he'd acknowledge that he's in part responsible for the upcoming lockout.
But hey, he's got Mike's back!
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:13 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 6:18 pm
Posted by Royce Young
And now for the next installment of the "silly argument that we're having because Scottie Pippen said something." If you missed it or tried to make yourself forget, Pippen said that LeBron James may be a better overall basketball player than Michael Jordan. As a result, there was quite a bit of harumphing and yelling.
LeBron accepted the compliment from Pippen but ultimately disagreed. Well, add in former Chicago teammate Horace Grant as someone that doesn't agree with Pippen. Via Sports Radio Interviews:
“WOW! Pip is my man and you know we will always be close, but I totally disagree. LeBron is gonna be one of the top players to ever play the game but Michael Jeffrey Jordan, who we bump heads at times is I think in my era the best basketball player to ever play the game.”
Grant was then asked if maybe Pippen was upset with Jordan over something, if there was some unknown grudge that caused the comment.
“(Laughing) I hope not, I don’t think so, but you know to say that somebody, I mean listen, I’m mean I’m kinda at a loss of words cause Michael Jordan I mean when you win numerous MVPs and you’ve taken the team to six championships and probably could have been eight if he didn’t retire those two years. You know MVP’s and the playoffs and the championships I mean man he made us better, he made believe me, he, myself, Scottie, BJ, even Bill Cartwright who I still love, he made us better players.
"He gave us that confidence, but first we had to earn his trust and once we earned his trust man you know you saw championship after championship and as far as talent wise, that’s no man. Who do you want to take that last shot when three seconds are left in the game? Who do you want the ball in their hands the last 3 seconds? He proved that he can score the last few seconds of a ball game or if he gets double teamed that Steve Kerr or John Paxson are right there so you know I love Scottie, but I totally disagree.
“You know this is a great country we live in. You’re entitled to your opinions but your uhh uhh…[Waddle: YOU'RE WRONG!] Yeah, yeah he’s wrong on this one.”
Grant isn't the only player that's taken up for Jordan (obviously). Kareem Abdul-Jabbar though didn't take up for either, writing an open letter to Pippen that said, "So I would advise you to do a little homework before crowning Michael or LeBron with the title of best ever. As dominant as he is, LeBron has yet to win a championship. I must say that it looks like Miami has finally put the team together that will change that circumstance. It's my hope that today’s players get a better perspective on exactly what has been done in this league in the days of yore."
Days of yore? Really Kareem? And nobody has forgotten Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. Or you, which is what I think he was really trying to say when he said not to forget about the old guys. It's just eras in basketball are difficult to compare, especially the Russell-Chamberlain era. No need to lecture everyone about basketball history. I don't think anyone has forgotten Wilt, Russell, or you.
This is part of sports and really more part of basketball than any other. We all love to talk and compare and debate. The "who's better?" question is always a fun one. The consensus is that Jordan is the greatest ever. I think Pippen's point was that LeBron was more of the total package, which people kind of ignored, but in the end, it got people talking. Which may have been the whole intention.
Posted on: May 28, 2011 7:03 pm
Edited on: May 28, 2011 10:32 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Scottie Pippen seemed to rattle the very foundation of basketball when he claimed that LeBron James may (operative word: may) be better than Michael Jordan. It was a claim that virtually no one on the planet really believes, much less wants to hear.
But Pippen said it and with him knowing MJ as well as anyone, we all had to at least acknowledge the comments and therefore, discuss them to no end. Well, finally we have LeBron's thoughts. Via The Sun Sentinel:
“Mike was an unbelievable player,” James said Saturday. “I got a long way, long way to be mentioned as one of the all-time greats. Not even just Jordan – there are a lot of great players who have played in this league: Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and all these guys that are floating around with multiple rings. Bill Russell. All of these guys who have pioneered the game for me and [Dwyane Wade].
“I’m gracious, humbled by Scottie’s comments with him being a teammate of his and seeing Michael on a day-to-day basis. But as far as me? I don’t know. I’m not going to sit here and say I’m better than Jordan or if I’m not better than Jordan. It's not about that.”
First part? Great answer LeBron. Bravo. Quality move to acknowledge that not only that you shouldn't be mentioned alongside Jordan, you shouldn't be mentioned alongside about 20 of the all-time greats. Not at this point. Your career is still very young (LeBron is just 26 -- !!!) and you haven't accomplished near enough as a basketball player to have your named spread across with the likes of Jordan, Bird, Russell, Kareem, Magic Johnson or even heck, Scottie Pippen. Not yet.
(And can I point out here how I love how LeBron always misuses words? You're "gracious" of Scottie's comments? He obviously misspoke and it was accidental but he does that a lot. He's trying to answer humbly but the wrong word can confuse things.)
Second part? You started well and then of course you had to go ahead and LeBron your answer by saying you won't say you're as good or not as good. Ugh. You see LeBron, this is why these types of things always come back to get you. You tried to answer this in a humble way. You tried to acknowledge your place. But you aren't the one to determine these things anyway. So just say, "Oh man, I'm not Michael Jordan. Not by a long shot. Maybe one day, if I could get to my dreams. But I have a whole lot to accomplish before then." And leave it at that. Just put a period on it, tie a bow and walk away.
That's why young stars like Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant are so darn refreshing. There's no double-talk. No ego in anything they say. They always -- and I mean always -- let their game do the talking and leave the rest up to everyone else.
I just don't understand why you said you've got a long way to go and then came back and said you're not going to say you're not as good as Jordan. That's the type of stuff that bugs people. One day maybe you'll learn. I do agee with LeBron on his last line: It definitely isn't about that. I don't know why everyone is always hung up on comparing or finding the next Jordan. I think LeBron James should be the next LeBron James. A one of a kind, freak of a basketball player that has the potential to be an all-time great.
Maybe one day we'll actually have to have this discussion. With LeBron in The Finals chasing that first ring, he could be starting a long run of them. Then we might not be able to say he's not as good as Jordan either.
Posted on: May 27, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 12:29 pm
Scottie Pippen says that LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game.
Posted by Matt Moore
Bulls fans are having a bad morning. They lost the Conference Finals Thursday night. They blew a double-digit lead late as LeBron James flew by them like they were standing still. And this morning, Scottie Pippen, Bulls Hall of Famer, Jordan's running mate, said on ESPN Radio Friday morning that LeBron James, the most hated man in Bullsland?
Pippen says he's the probably the greatest player of all time.
“Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to play the game,” Pippen said. “But I may go as far as to say LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game because he is so potent offensively that not only can he score at will but he keeps everybody involved. You have to be on your Ps and Qs on defense. No guy on the basketball court is not a threat to score with LeBron James out there. Not only will LeBron dominate from the offensive end as well, but he’s also doing it on the defensive end which really makes him the complete package. He’s able to get in those passing lanes, shoot those gaps and create transition opportunities where he is pretty much unstoppable.”via Pippen: “MJ Best Scorer, ‘Bron Best Player … To Ever Play The Game” « NBA.com | Hang Time Blog.
Whoa, there, Scottie, let's not go nuts, here.
The problem here is the word "is." If Scottie had just thrown in a "could end up as" or a "has a chance to be" this isn't an issue. Because everyone recognizes how great LeBron's game is. But the results haven't been there.
Fair or not, and you can make the case it's not but it doesn't change anything, we judge athletes on results more than performance. More specifically, we tier players based on performance, then judge them based on results. An example: everyone would agree LeBron James is a greater player than Robert Horry, despite Horry's impressive ring total, because Horry was never "the man" on a team. Jordan, however, is considered a greater player because he won six rings while being the man. And was totally unstoppable in nearly every situation. Stunningly, this is an area where both people who love and hate stats can agree. The numbers say Jordan is nearly untouchable.
And the fact remains, Jordan did win those titles. He is that icon. There's a massive sense of overinflation of Jordan's accomplishments because so many writers and people in the target audience grew up in the era and Jordan was a cultural phenomenon as well as a basketball one. If you take all that away? He's still the greatest of all time. That's how big the gap is. There are other players you'd probably consider before LeBron as well. Russell. Chamberlain. Magic. Bird. Olajuwon. He's already a top ten player, but the best? No chance. Not yet.
However, Pippen does have one point. What player has made as much of an impact on both sides of the ball, and was as insolvable as LeBron? He guarded the MVP point guard into a nightmare series. He rained threes to get his team back from down 11. He's a two-time MVP. He's on the verge of winning a ring, and should he do so, there's a great chance he can win several more. Win three, why can't he win six? Then the conversation starts.
Then, not now.
For now, we have to respect history, even if Scottie's too close to the trees to see the forest. This isn't about LeBron teaming up with other great players or any sort of hypocritical, hyper-critical nonsense. It's just about the results. And until James possesses those results, Jordan remains the GOAT.
(One last note: This is actually the best thing Pippen could have done for Chicago. Instead of focusing on how their team choked away leads multiple times in this series, how the MVP fell apart and failed them in the biggest moments, how all their regular season success resulted in a gentleman's sweep to the hated Heat, they can all rally around the greatest player in city history, remember the good times, and feel good about themselves again. This is the Pippen media version of Batman taking the blame for Harvey Dent in "The Dark Knight.")
Posted on: April 24, 2011 11:26 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 11:33 pm
New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul hit Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant with a mean crossover during Game 4 of their Western Conference playoff series. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Just before halftime of Game 4 between the New Orleans Hornets and Los Angeles Lakers, Hornets point guard Chris Paul added Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to his crossover victims list, nailing him with a vicious left-to-right cross at the top of the key before getting to the basket to finish an uncontested lay-up.
Paul methodically dribbled near the three-point line, setting Bryant up with a behind-the-back dribble from his right to the left. As Bryant leaned in, Paul unleashed the beast, crossing back over to his strong hand and leaving Bryant in cement shoes. A few power steps and Paul was near the rim, where he kissed in the lay-up as he crashed into the baseline crowd.
Here's a look at the video.
The obvious comparison is Allen Iverson's immortal crossover of Michael Jordan, in which he set it up with a similar back-and-forth rocking motion. Bryant was left grasping at air just like Jordan was, although Iverson settled for hitting a pull-up jumper rather than attacking the basket.
In case you haven't watched an NBA game in the last 15 years, here's video of Iverson working Jordan courtesy of YouTube user vanessama.
Iverson's cross is seen as a stepping stone in Jordan's aging process and the heralding of a new generation of players. Paul's doesn't carry that kind of weight. Bryant is still near the top of his game, and the Lakers remain atop of the NBA.
Posted on: April 12, 2011 12:13 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 12:24 pm
New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul says he would "think about" signing with his hometown Charlotte Bobcats in free agency. Posted by Ben Golliver.
All-Star point guard Chris Paul has his New Orleans Hornets back in the playoffs, a monumental accomplishment considering all the turmoil that has surrounded the franchise this season. The stories around Paul are never about what he's done, though, they're always about what he's going to do. As in, where is he headed in free agency.
The Associated Press reports that Paul, a North Carolina native, would give consideration to the Charlotte Bobcats once he hits free agency.
In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press to promote Saturday's Jordan Brand Classic high school basketball game in Charlotte, the New Orleans Hornets guard said signing with the Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats in 2012 "would definitely be something to think about."is this a story? No.
Paul is a Jordan Brand athlete who is never going to slight MJ in public. He's also trying to drum up local interest so the last thing he's going to do in this situation is stomp on the hopes of Bobcats' loyalists.
More importantly, Paul wants to win. That's not happening in Charlotte, at least not in the short term, not unless Paul and another high-profile free agent decide to follow the Miami Heat model. That feels like the longest of long shots. There are other situations where Paul could plug in and be an immediate impact player for a team that's much more ready to contend. This might be a bit blunt, but one can argue that the Bobcats don't have a single championship piece on their roster right now.
It's also worth noting that he didn't specifically commit to the Bobcats in any meaningful way, simply acknowledging that they would be a possibility. At this point, with so much time and a potential restructiring of the Collective Barganing Agreement before next summer, any player in Paul's position would keep all of his options on the table.
Shortly after the Associated Press went with its story, Paul took to his Twitter account to provide some context for the statements. "Come on now people, I did 3 different interviews about the Jordan Brand Classic this morning and was asked if Michael Jordan had influence on free agent signings and I said at the end of the day guys want to win...they askd would I want to return home and I told them I'm focused here in NO and that's the future and anything can happen. Hate when people try to turn things around just to make it a story...#slowdown."