Scottie Pippen shocked the basketball world when he claimed that LeBron James was “probably ahead of (Michael) Jordan” during an appearance on ESPN’s First Take on Thursday morning.
Pipped couched his comments with loads of semantics, wording his praise of LeBron James in a way that might suggest he was only talking about statistics, and not where each player ranked in NBA history. Regardless of Pippen’s intent, though, having someone who played with Jordan declare that James is ahead of him by any metric is going to create some buzz, and that’s exactly what happened.
The James vs. Jordan debate is interesting in that it’ll likely come down to what you value most as a basketball watcher. James’ statistics will probably trump Jordan’s when his career is over, and you can attribute that to a number of things. On the flip side, if you value accolades like MVP awards and championships, James is going to have a difficult time passing Jordan at this point in his career. It’s possible, sure, but it would be difficult.
Chauncey Billups, on the other hand, doesn’t believe in neither the statistics nor championships argument. Billups believes that Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all-time, and there is absolutely nothing LeBron James can do about it.
“I don’t think that there is nothing that LeBron can do,” Billups told TMZ. “Not in my eyes. And I’m a huge LeBron James Fan. Huge. But not to pass Jordan, no, there is nothing that he can do.”
In a weird way, Billups’ proclamation that James can never pass Jordan is bolder than Pippen’s claim. In an era where the Golden State Warriors are possibly the best team ever, if James can take them out a few more times and win another ring or three, Billups is saying that even then he’s taking Jordan? That’s bold.
Of course, James winning three or (gasp) four more NBA championships at this point is fairly unlikely, but is it impossible? While Jordan won his last ring at 34 and James will turn 33 at the end of the month, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, we might be witnessing the best LeBron James season right now. I wouldn’t count him out just yet.