Scottie Pippen always had MJ’s back, on or off the court. They were partners in crime, two bloodhounds who unleashed the wrath of Chicago on the NBA for 10 seasons. And even as he settled into retirement, Pippen has stayed true to what he believed while he played: that Jordan was the greatest ever. Now apparently, someone might be swaying his mind.
Before this summer, LeBron was well on his way to creating a basketball resume that was virtually impeccable. But then the Decision happened, and James became Public Enemy No. 1. He still has the stats to back up the claims many have, that he’s the best playing today. But with his awesome showcase in these playoffs, some are wondering if he has regained some of his “clutch” that seemed to vanish in the last few years.
Pippen isn’t questioning anything, telling ESPN that ‘Bron could challenge MJ as the best all-around player ever.
“Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to play the game,” Pippen said Friday on “Mike & Mike In The Morning” on ESPN Radio. “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 P’s and Q’s 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.”
An old Chicago teammate, Horace Grant, didn’t agree with Pippen, saying that MJ not only was the best but that he made every role player on those Bulls’ team better because he gave them the confidence to win and go deep in the playoffs.
While Pippen did say Jordan was probably the greatest scorer ever (and LeBron possibly the best all-around player), it still doesn’t totally make sense. During his prime, MJ never averaged less than 5.5 assists a game. When you add a reputation for being the best defender in the game (during the same time period, he averaged 2.8 spg) and high shooting percentages, it’s hard to say anyone could be a better all-around player. On the other side, James’ playoff stat line reads like this: 26 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 5.5 apg, 1.7 spg, 1.5 bpg). For his career, he’s averaged over seven rebounds and seven assists a night.
As I said in the T-Mac “We Reminisce” post, it’s difficult to compare players from different eras.
But I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last time we have to put up with this comparison.
At their peak, who would you rather have: LeBron or MJ?
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