The Michael Jordan versus LeBron James “greatest of all time” debate has become one of the most popular debates in basketball – for better or for worse. With LeBron James surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in February, the debate picked up steam again this year.
As always, the NBA community has remained split in regards to the debate. On the one hand, some feel as though Jordan’s undefeated streak in the Finals along with his defensive accolades give him the edge. On the other, some feel as though the longevity of James’ dominance over the past 20 years gives him the edge.
During a recent episode of “KG Certified,” Charles Oakley, the man known as Jordan’s enforcer throughout his career, sounded off. Unsurprisingly, Oakley named MJ the greatest player of all time, while joking about why he’d prefer to play with James over his best friend.
“They asked me, ‘Who’d you rather play with, LeBron or Mike?’ I said, LeBron, but Mike my best friend. Mike ain’t passing me the ball. He don’t care if I get a shot today or tomorrow. But, you know, that’s how he got to be Mike.
“When they always make the comparison, ‘Who you like? LeBron or Mike?’ I says, ‘Frosted Flakes, Corn Flakes. Mike, LeBron.’ So, LeBron got no sugar, Mike got the sugar. I’m LeBron because I was Corn Flakes. So it’s always going to be a comparison.”
Other NBA stars weigh in, “Michael Jordan or LeBron James?”
With the debate being a major topic around the NBA, let’s take a look at how some other legends view the debate.
Gary Payton, who notably faced off against Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals, spoke in 2021 on “Scoop B Radio Overtime,” crediting LeBron James as the better player.
“If you ask me who’s a better all-around basketball player? LeBron James by far. … Two totally different basketball players. Jordan was a guy that he was going to make big shots. He’s going to take the ball every time and shoot it every time he has to. I think LeBron is an all-around basketball player.”
Dwyane Wade, who famously won two titles alongside LeBron James with the Miami Heat, said that as great as his good friend is, MJ will always be his GOAT. He spoke in an interview on Bleacher Report’s “Next 25” in May:
“I never saw Bill Russell play. I never say Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) play. Obviously they are someone else’s GOATs. But my GOAT, I grew up in Chicago, so Jordan is mine.
“I also understand that the generation that’s here now, LeBron James is their GOAT. Before LeBron, it was Kobe Bryant. It just becomes who you grow up watching, who you see and envision and say, ‘Oh, I want to be that person.’”
Who do you believe the greatest of all time is? Drop your thoughts in the comments section below.