Until the end of time, NBA fans and analysts will be arguing between Michael Jordan and LeBron James as to who was the better player and/or had the better professional basketball career. In some ways, that is an entertaining conundrum and, in others, it can be aggravating and even boring.
Still, when a player with Isiah Thomas’ Hall of Fame resume discusses a topic like determining the best NBA player of all-time, there is a certain amount of weight to his words. This week, Thomas discussed the James vs. Jordan hypothetical and, in the end, he emerged with two interesting takeaways.
One acknowledges the debate between the two players. While some believe that is the debate to determine the best ever, Thomas doesn’t necessarily agree.
Thomas believes that legendary center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, not Jordan or LeBron, is the best to ever do it, referring to him as “the pinnacle” for the purposes of the discussion. From a longevity standpoint, Abdul-Jabbar holds the all-time scoring record by a comfortable margin, and well before his run alongside Magic Johnson for the Lakers in the 1980s, he was an utterly dominant force on both ends of the floor.
While that point from Thomas may not be universally well-received, he tabs LeBron as his choice over Jordan, citing his multi-faceted ability over Jordan’s scoring dominance. Beyond that, Thomas’ assertion that James is “bigger, faster and stronger” is one that is often overlooked and, even if it feels like sacrilege for a player that competed with Jordan on a nightly basis to make this proclamation, Thomas certainly isn’t alone in this particular evaluation.
No one’s mind will be changed by Isiah Thomas’ insight here but it does provide food for thought and at least a minor fist pump to those old-school NBA historians that hold Abdul-Jabbar in obscenely high esteem.