Will Smith Leaned Into His Philly Roots When Picking His GOAT Basketball Player

You usually only hear a few names brought up whenever someone is asked to pick the GOAT basketball player. There’s Michael Jordan, there’s LeBron James, every now and then you’ll hear someone cite Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career of excellence in the sport, or Bill Russell’s 11 championship rings in a 13-year playing career.

In a recent clip while promoting his new movie Bad Boys: Ride or Die, Will Smith decided to go in a different direction. The question got posed to himself and his co-star Martin Lawrence, and while Lawrence used a pretty common argument in picking Jordan (he was undefeated in the NBA Finals in his career), Smith leaned heavily on his Philadelphia roots in naming his GOAT — and no, he did not pick Sixers legend Allen Iverson or Philly native Kobe Bryant.

“I mean, ok, so you got a Greatest of All-Time,” Smith said. “I think there has to be avenues. Like, for me, the GOAT basketball player for my life — for my life — the GOAT basketball player is Julius Erving. Like, the basketball player that changed my life.”

Erving spent 11 years as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, and was an important piece of their NBA championship winning team in 1983. Smith would have been a teenager in Philly at that point, so it probably isn’t a big surprise that he holds Dr. J in such high regard.