Posted November 01, 2013

Michael Jordan: With Kobe Bryant injured, LeBron James is NBA’s best player

Ben Golliver, Chicago Bulls, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Michael Jordan
(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Sport)

Michael Jordan is ready to anoint LeBron James (right) as the NBA’s best player. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Sport)

NBA legend Michael Jordan said Friday that LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, marking a change in tune, as he’s generally favored Lakers guard Kobe Bryant over the Heat forward.

”It’s hard to pick. It’s hard to say the best player,” Jordan told the Associated Press in an interview. ”You would have to say LeBron because of what he’s capable of doing. Kobe is coming off an injury and you don’t know where he is going to be at his age. I would have to say LeBron.”

Bryant, 35, is out indefinitely as he recovers from a season-ending Achilles injury. He averaged 27.3 points, 6 assists and 5.6 rebounds for the Lakers last season.

The 28-year-old James has won four MVP awards in the last five years and back-to-back Finals MVP awards, leading the Heat to the 2012 and 2013 titles. He averaged 26.8 points, 8 rebounds and 7.3 assists last season.

Back in February, Jordan told NBA TV that he would take Bryant over James because the former had five championship rings, while the latter only had one (at the time).

“If you had to pick between the two, that would be a tough choice, but five beats one every time I look at it,” Jordan said. “And not that he [James] won’t get five, he may get more than that, but five is bigger than one.”

Also in February, the legendary Bulls guard and current owner of the Bobcats told ESPN: The Magazine that he would defend James by encouraging him to go left.

“So if I have to guard him,” Jordan said, “I’m gonna push him left so nine times out of 10, he’s gonna shoot a jump shot. If he goes right, he’s going to the hole and I can’t stop him. So I ain’t letting him go right.”

Then, in an October promotional interview for “NBA 2K14″, Jordan said that he felt he could beat James in a hypothetical game of one-on-one between the two players during their respective primes, but that Bryant might be able to beat him.

“I don’t think I’d lose, other than Kobe Bryant, because he steals all my moves,” Jordan said.

James has embraced the challenge of eclipsing Jordan as the greatest ever.

“I want to be the greatest of all time,” James said in September, according to ESPN.com. “It’s that simple, I’m far away from it, but I see the light.”

Following the Heat’s 2013 Finals triumph, James detailed his “MJ moment” — a late Game 7 jumper — to Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins.

  “I know it wasn’t the magnitude of MJ hitting that shot in ’98, but I definitely thought about him,” James said. “It was an MJ moment.” He paused as a turn of phrase came to mind. “It was an LJ moment.”

SI.com ranked James No. 1 in our Top 100 Players of 2014 list. Bryant was No. 9.

35 comments
LelandWong
LelandWong

Injured or not injured, LBJ is way better than Kobe. Kobe is a ball hog yet LBJ still have a better career scoring average and a PER than Kobe. LBJ defended and played defense in all five positions at an elite level. In fact LBJ is better than MJ ever was.

JoshuaAyo
JoshuaAyo

On top of that, he wouldn't have gotten those 2 champ rings without shaq in the line up which was the most dominant bigman that time.

They call me Bruce
They call me Bruce

Kobe is better than Lebron.  You Lebron homers dont realize this guy needs to be on the most stacked team by far to win and still needing 7 games, a hail Mary shot by Ray Allen.  Kobe has won with literally Gasol, Odom, Ariza, Fisher.  Lebron wouldnt even make the finals today if Wade, Bosh, or even Ray Allen was injured.

reggiewalton22
reggiewalton22

This may not mean much considering the fact that its old news, but i wanna point out the fact that MJ says that Kobe is the best player in the league even though Kobe steals some of his moves. So imagine LeBron was to steal MJs moves he wouldn't just be the best player in the league he would be the most physically dominant. Almost everyone in the league has role models that they steal moves from but not Lebron. He may play like someone(Magic Johnson/Julius Irving) but he doesn't still moves there's a big difference.

Back to Kobe stealing MJs moves.......................... watch the video on you tube at the bottom please(Its crazy don't only look at what Kobe and MJ is doing look at the defense and how similar the two react to it)

Kobe Bryant vs Michael Jordan - Identical Plays

reggiewalton22
reggiewalton22

Overall LeBron is better than Kobe no matter what. The only reason why anyone would say that Kobe is better in the first place is because of his scoring and of course his 3 peat plus the 5 rings. If you've noticed the only way Kobe can control a game  is through scoring and maybe a still here and there. On the other hand you have Lebron who can control a game through assists, blocks, and scoring. Honestly as you can see LeBron waits until the time is right to drop 35 to 40 points a game, just look at his playoff scoring stats, especially game 7s.


CurtisGerard
CurtisGerard

If lebron is SOO much better than LeBron as a passer why he averages 7 apg while bryant averages 6apg everubody looks at Kobes will an him being unstoppable on the scoring end amd forget Kobe averaged 26+ 6 & 6 in multiple seasons which him Lebron are two of the select few to do that in history (Jordan, Mcgrady) so until Kobe looks like T mac on the court during his pistons/knicks/spurs days or Kobe retires Kobe will be #1 in the league amd I'm not evem a Kobe fan, This is coming From carmelo anthony fan but you Lebron fans get brainwashed by ESPN & the "experts" who sucks Lebron off

Eric39
Eric39

LBJ is better than a hurt Kobe, healthy Kobe or prime Kobe!

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

This is why MJ was a terrible GM and one of the worst owners.  Lebron's been a better all around player than Kobe for 5 full seasons now, but Jordan thinks it's only true now because Kobe is hurt.

Either Jordan is really an idiot, or he's just trolling Lebron because he knows that Lebron is going to pass him in most people's minds as the GOAT.

Someonelse
Someonelse

MJ is constantly attacking LeBron, because he is the only one to eventually replace him as the best ever!

Windell
Windell

What's all the fuss? All LeBron does is bulldoze his way to the basket. No finess in his game, his jumpshot suspect. He stole a couple of durants MVPs

kt2112
kt2112

jordan sounds like the bitter old man. there has never been a player like lebron name 1 player who could defend all 5 positions???????????????

spiderpaz
spiderpaz

Kobe at his best was better than Bron bron at his

fry305
fry305

also kobe's supporting cast > lebron's in cleveland.

GerryAllaire
GerryAllaire

@CurtisGerard That is true ONE season also averaging his career high in turnovers, Kobe's highest season for rebounds: 6.9, and Assists 6.0 and not in the same season but his highest for both and neither stack up to any of lebrons years or career and lebron scores WAY more efficiently than kobe, Career high: 46% Lebrons career average: 49% just to some it up for you and even when i say this your still gonna believe kobes better, Lebron averages more Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals, Blocks, FG% and 3pt FG% I just dont get how you kobe fans go on believing he is better, and to add to that kobe isnt clutch he shoots 29% in game tying/winning shots under 24 seconds left lebron- 42%, seriously this isn't even a discussion, Lebron is better than kobe in literally every aspect of the game..

yankeefan2275
yankeefan2275

@CurtisGerard It's funny how everybody seems to ignore these types of comments. The true comments are always ignored.

pm2875
pm2875

Attacking Lebron? How? He was asked a question, and he answered it honestly. LBJ fans are so silly. whiners.

fry305
fry305

@Windell Were you trying to write "Fitness" or "Finesse"? Either way, try watching a game or looking up statistics first. Lebron shoots above average from mid-range and the 3-point line. He can bulldoze you or cross you over or spin around you or fade away or post you up or go left or right. Beat you with strength or speed. Like it or not (You obviously don't like it), but LeBron is the most talented offensive player the NBA has ever seen...and he prides himself on his D

beanie0112
beanie0112

@kt2112 You say this as if you could drop lebron in any era, and he'd be able to guard the centers of that era.  that is false, if he tried to guard a prime Hakeem, Ewing, Admiral, or Shaq he would be crushed.  If he tried to guard a prime KAJ, Wilt, Russell, or hell, even Mark Eaton, he'd be annihilated.  the myth of lebron being able to guard all 5 positions is enhanced by being in his prime during a relatively weak era for centers. 

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

@spiderpaz Better scorer, for certain.  All around, I don't think so.  Both are very good defenders.  Lebron's a better help defender, rebounder, and a much better (and more willing) passer.


coconut
coconut

@Mitch27 u idiot the reason lebron james makes the finals so easily 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013 is cause he plays in a weak eastern conference kobe has so much more obstacles in the west to overcome and much more star power in his conference which makes it hard for him to make it that was like with jordan in his days larry bird and the celtics along with bad boy pistons so just stop sucking up to lebron such a overrated athlete who plays in a soft era of bball go back into mjs era he would get overwhelmed easily man.


coconut
coconut

@GerryAllaire kobe aint clutch compared to lebron give me a break thats coz kobe takes way more clutch shots and shoots in very difficult positioning and good defense lebron doesnt take as much as kobe but if he did he would probs have missed most of them and yea stop sucking lebron off alright. to add to that lebron isnt as reliable as kobe to take over games at its most crucial stages so stop riding lebron.


fry305
fry305

@beanie0112 @kt2112 Not his fault, LBJ doesn't pick the oppposing center. And the giant centers back in the day didn't get to pick the smaller people they were dominating

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

@beanie0112 @kt2112 The only center he definitely couldn't guard is Shaq, who is simply too large.

I'm sure he'd be challenged to guard those other players in the post, because that's not what he does regularly, but athletically he could more than rise to the challenge.  The dude is 260-270 pounds with amazing hand eye coordination, and he can jump out of the gym.  He could guard those guys as well as any one else could.  He wouldn't stop Kareem's skyhook, or prevent Wilt in his prime from scoring 50, but no one has ever been able to do that.

Being able to guard some one doesn't mean being able to shut them down completely.

yankeefan2275
yankeefan2275

@Bearsclone @spiderpaz People blow this out of proportion. Lebron was gifted physically. He was born tall and big. Kobe wasnt. He is 6-6 but some people cannot get big not matter what. Kobe has more ball handling skills and can shoot better. We are talking in his prime, not now, as you cannot compare a 35 year old and a 28 year old. Lebron at 35-36 is going to be more hurt than health. Compare lebrons 34 year old season when it happens and kobes 34 year old season. he isnt gonna touch 25 a game.

StanFlyKidCoffy
StanFlyKidCoffy

@Bearsclone @beanie0112 @kt2112 "

If that is the case, why is lebron the only player in the nba credited for being able to guard all five positions?

Lebron is not even the best defender on his team. Shane battier is, which is inarguable.

Eric39
Eric39

@Bearsclone @beanie0112 @kt2112 Yeah right, Ewing, Hakeem, Robinson, Smits, Eaton, Kareem, Lanier, Unseld, Wilt and on and on, would eat LBJ for lunch. Wake up. It's not a knock on LBJ, but he could never guard those guys. He would have as much chance as Steve Kerr guarding them. "Guard all five positions" is way overblown.

Mitch27
Mitch27

@yankeefan2275 @Bearsclone @spiderpaz That is a pointless argument, because LeBron has never played as a 34 year old.  A lot of veterans change up their gameplay as they age to suit their physical abilities.  Nothing is stopping LeBron from doing the same, as he is a player that always looks to improve his game.  Just look at his shot percentages season by season to get an idea.