Who’s the greatest basketball player of all time? Basketball legends such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain, or Kareem Abdul Jabbar may come to mind when thinking about this question. These big names dominated the game in their era but would not be able to match up to Jordan in his prime.
Let’s take a look at each player to understand why not.
Now, I have to admit that I am partial to Kobe Bryant because of his work ethic and desire to win. When someone told him he couldn’t, his attitude said “watch me.” That time of mentality carries a very good basketball player into a basketball legend.
Kobe mirrored a lot of his game after Michael, which makes him the easiest to compare. Jordan had more scoring titles, shot the ball better from the floor, and won more championships, to name a few. For how much it pains me to say this, Kobe falls short of the mark of GOAT status. RIP Mamba.
LeBron James is the most athletic basketball player we may ever see play the game. This doesn’t mean that he is on the GOAT level. The positive thing for LeBron is that his career is not over, so a couple more championships could change this narrative.
Although LeBron had one of the best finals performances against the Golden State Warriors in 2016, he has often shown signs of having a weak mentality, as well. Everyone will remember his 2011 finals collapse in most 4th quarters where the better Miami Heat lost.
The Cavaliers should have won Game 1 of the 2018 Finals if not for JR Smith’s major mistake. LeBron’s resilience to being a leader for his team lacked greatly, as shown by his actions on the bench and after the game. Talk stats all you want, but LeBron’s weak mental game is what puts a mark on his career.
Here, we get in the story where it becomes hard to measure different eras. We don’t really know how the 2 eras would match up, but it is pretty apparent that the talent in the league was much better in Jordan’s era.
Wilt Chamberlain was very athletic and skilled for his time, but his play would not translate well in later years in the NBA. He only has 2 NBA championships which makes it hard to argue that he is the best to ever play.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar had all the talent to be the best player to ever play but didn’t have the drive and focus that Jordan had. His stats tell the story of a GOAT, but his mentality was not that of Michael Jordan to transcend the game and destroy whoever was in his path.
Kareem’s era is another knock against his career. It is hard to compare them exactly but looking at them side by side, and there is a difference in skill that is apparent.
Michael Jordan is the GOAT
Michael Jordan is the GOAT because he is the best part of them all. He has the drive of Kobe Bryant, the athleticism of LeBron, the scoring ability of Wilt, and the winning swagger of Kareem.