It rages on — the debate over who’s the best of all-time. Michael Jordan? Magic Johnson? Kobe Bryant?
LeBron James? That is where the argument gets testy. Jordan just celebrated his 50th birthday. Because Jordan won six NBA titles and all those scoring titles and big shots to win big games, I throw my support behind Jordan.
Kobe Bryant, a 15-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion, is in my view the closest to Jordan in the debate.
Seven times he has been to the NBA Finals. Why Magic Johnson does not get more support in this ongoing debate I cannot figure out.
After all, he won five NBA titles also and reached the NBA Finals eight times. Gaining ground and coming on fast is LeBron James of the Miami Heat. He has been spectacular: reigning NBA three time MVP and champion and the clear-cut best player in the game today. James has been to the Finals three times and is 1-2, losing in the Finals with Cleveland, swept 4-0 in 2007 by San Antonio. In 2011, James lost the Finals to Dallas before capturing the crown last summer over Oklahoma City.
It’s almost like a strong rush to put him on the Jordan level when he has not done nearly the things Jordan did. I remind advocates and supporters of Magic- Kobe-Jordan-James of this: It’s about the RING. As dominant as these players are and were, the game of basketball is not played by an individual. It’s a team game, and to ultimately be deemed the greatest, in my unbiased book,
you have to win the most titles. That’s when strong advocates of James and Magic say Jordan and Kobe had Phil Jackson as head coach. This is a strong argument, but I toss it out because you still have to win it on the court as a player. Jordan had Scottie Pippen; Magic had Kareem Abdul Jabbar, James Worthy and Pat Riley; and Kobe had Shaquille O’Neal for three of those titles. James currently has Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
And remember, Wade has two titles himself, one more than James, which technically puts Wade ahead of James, right? But that’s for another argument, considering they are teammates now. I will cast my vote for Jordan as the clear-cut greatest of all time, because he’s got six titles and zero losses in the Finals.
That includes two threepeats plus six straight scoring titles and zero losses in the Finals. Magic has four, while Kobe and Lebron have two each.
Now, I have been reporting on sports for 34 years and have covered all of these guys. And remember, Jordan has a huge feather in his cap considering this is a team game. He was the greatest star on the best team
in NBA history, the 72-10 Chicago Bulls, who won the 1996 NBA title — the only team ever to win 70 or more games. EVER!
Jordan also won his six titles playing during a time when the game was far more physical. And he played against Hall-of-Famers Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Magic, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Pattrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Gary Payton and Dennis Rodman.
It’s clear-cut — Jordan is the greatest of all time with Magic second, Kobe third, and LeBron coming on fast. Forward further evidence to support your argument to [email protected]
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Fridayat 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm,
and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at Fitz BeatSr. Larry welcomes