Monday, June 11, 2018

G.O.A.T

Hall of Fame Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once said, ~Great players are willing to give up their personal achievements for the achievement of the group. It enhances everybody.~ Let me ask you this question in regards to Michael Jordan and Lebron James, who among the two men is considered to be the greatest basketball player to ever step foot on the court? For its most definitely a divisive question indeed as the initial debates that start off relatively calm end up turning into truly heated discussions/arguments so much so people tend to lose their sanity along with their composure. In any case, instead of focusing on stats such as career points per game times gone to the finals, etc. the focus will be on the following 3 things: competitive drive, being battle tested, and overall leadership.

Without a doubt, Jordan and James' competitive drive to be the best has resulted in countless and impressive accolades worthy of their historic legacy. However, Jordan's competitive drive is considerably noteworthy as his incentive was to play the game for the sheer competition of facing off against opponents who were considered the best as well. Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, Domonique Wilkins, Hakeem Alajuwon, Gary Peyton, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, etc. who were each in some ways teachers of sorts and vice versa. Therefore, the growing confidence in his skills and ability combined with his competitive drive to beat his peers deemed him in a sense a student of the game who was continually learning whether he won or lost. So, what's Lebron learned thus far?

If you think about it, the topic of whether or not Lebron James has actually been battle tested in the more physical has been contested for years. I think its safe to say today's NBA is vastly different when Jordan played as it was a more physical game back then. True, Lebron has faced physical challenges to where he's pushed himself beyond what he's capable of causing his body to break down, which shows his effort and commitment to the game itself. Yet, being tested physically playing the likes of The Knicks and Detroit Pistons back in the day who certainly brought the physicality and then some, which I dare say Jordan thrived on thus earning those quintessential battle scars. Hey, it makes you wonder how Lebron would've faired against Laimbeer, McDaniel, and Oakley who would let you know that he's been fouled.

Current Cleveland Cavs player J.R. Smith said, ~Its almost a gift and a curse. You play on his team, you’re playing with the best player in the world...and on the other side if you win he will get all the credits and if you lost you will get all the blame. That’s probably why Kyrie Irving wanted to be traded.~ Of course, Smith's words speak volume in overall leadership when the media such as ESPN Sportscenter and certain sports commentators would rather tout "The Face" of the Cavs as the greatest while treating his teammates as mere footnotes. Granted, even though Jordan was and will always be "The Face" of the Bulls he shared the spotlight with his non-footnote teammates Pippen, Paxon, Kerr, Grant, Armstrong, Kukoc, Cartwright who he encouraged to shine. Lead by example and in turn the leader will also follow.

In retrospect, there is no debate when it comes to proclaiming who is deemed the greatest player in basketball. Why? When you have former and current player/owners like Kobe who have gone on record as saying he's been the most influential in their career when they were young and for the most part pattered themselves somewhat like him. Of course, this goes without saying that Jordan staying with bulls and creating opportunities to help his teammates to become better whereby he becomes better reiterates the notion of not one person is better than the team itself. In other words, teamwork and working together as a team shows that Jordan is miles above Lebron in that particular aspect. In the end, tremendous amounts of respect are well deserved for a guy who went out on the court playing to win and that is why The King of The Air Michael Jordan will always be in my view the G.O.A.T.

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