J.R. Smith isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and he’s got a pretty solid take in the ever-present LeBron James/Michael Jordan debate. It’s a battle that’s impossible to keep score on, but recent tallies have weighed heavily in Jordan’s favor recently.
Stephen Jackson says Jordan’s defensive achievements make him the best of all time. Kevin Garnett won’t even hear an argument that James is under more pressure than Jordan was when he was playing. And Scottie Pippen said that Isiah Thomas was merely “hating” when he picked James over Jordan.
But one of LeBron’s current teammates came down on his side when asked about the debate on a podcast. Smith appeared on Uninterrupted for an interview and was asked who the “GOAT” was. The question cited Ray Allen’s answer that Jordan is in a “conversation amidst himself” when it comes to the best basketball player ever. Smith respectfully disagreed.
Allen said that “by far” the best player was Jordan. Smith said he once agreed, but now says Allen is wrong.
“By far? Absolutely not. Obviously, don’t get me wrong, growing up, obviously. And I got the jersey tatted on my stomach,” Smith said. “MJ was the greatest of all time, in my opinion, up until two years ago.”
Smith clarified that he was on the Jordan side of the debate until recently, but as LeBron’s career continues and he stacks up more accomplishments in his 30s, the question now for him is what will it take for LeBron doubters to ever change their minds?
“And I was with Ray Allen. By far. The last couple years, at 33 years old, averaging a triple-double a whole month walking into the playoffs. Just hit 31,000 points the other day. Hit 30,000 points earlier this year. What, 8,000 rebounds? 8,000 assists? It’s insane. What more do we have to keep going whether it’s numbers, or just ability? At what point do we just say ‘when?’”
It’s an argument that’s easy to make for Smith, as he sees LeBron at work every night. And he’s saying it on a network that’s also owned by James himself. So there’s that. But to Smith’s credit, he’s a man who only deals in absolutes. Remember: he only plays for that gold, boss.