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Thread: The Last Dance

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonEvans View Post
    Wait... what did you just say there?!?!?

    Talk about killing your credibility! I'm not even sure Kobe is among the 10 best players of all time, let alone in the GOAT conversation. Off the top of my head: MJ, Lebron, Kareem, Wilt, Russell, Bird, and Magic are unquestionably better than Kobe. Kobe was rarely even the best player in the NBA during his career. He won the MVP award exactly one time.



    "JR Rider cost him" - First of all, the Cavs aren't wining that series even if JR Smith (not JR Rider) had taken a shot (who knows if he makes it) versus sending game one of the series into OT. They lost to the Warriors 4-0. And even if you want to contend that Smith's boneheaded play broke the Cavs spirit, there is no no no no way Jordan would have let his team fold after a mistake like that.

    "Kyrie and Love being hurt cost him" - You are aware that Jordan won a title when he was so sick he could barely get out of bed, right? It is not like the Bull had perfect health ever single post-season.

    "Dirk cost him" - So, your contention is that the GOAT lost a series to a team that was clearly less talented because someone on the other team was better than the GOAT? Ummmm, the grand total of times someone was better than Jordan in the playoffs is zero (ok, maybe one... he was merely great, not the greatest, in 1995 when he came back from early retirement).

    "Kawhi cost him" - See my above retort. How can Lebron be the GOAT when he keeps losing to guys who are better than him? This argument makes no sense to me.

    "Playing 6 All-stars cost him" - I'll give you this one. That Warriors team was stacked in a major way and the Cavs simply did not have the weapons to fight back. But, you know one of the amazing thing about the Bulls? Jordan somehow made those mediocre players pretty darn good all by himself. It is not like the Bulls were loaded with All-stars. Other than Pippen, they were a bunch of role players who Jordan molded into the pieces that would prove unbeatable in the playoffs. Lebron's is often on teams that just don't work all that well together. I dunno how much of it is his fault, but this never happened to Jordan. There has to be some responsibility to the star here, doesn't there?

    The GOAT does not lose 6 NBA finals... he just doesn't. Make all the excuses you want but the reality is that Jordan would not let his teams lose. That is what makes him the GOAT. Lebron... not so much.
    IMHO, the realistic discussion only includes MJ, Lebron, Wilt and Kareem. Dominant at both ends of the floor, clearly the best in the game for most of their careers, lots of postseason success (my criteria, admittedly). And I rank them in that order. MJ above Lebron primarily because he ALWAYS wanted the ball with the game on the line, and edges him on most advanced metrics.

    Bird and Magic were both mediocre defenders overall, and Russell was never a dominant offensive player (did not lead the Celtics in scoring even once, and generally ranked 3rd or 4th on the team). Russell also consistently had the most talented teammates through the course of his career.

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonEvans View Post
    Wait... what did you just say there?!?!?

    Talk about killing your credibility! I'm not even sure Kobe is among the 10 best players of all time, let alone in the GOAT conversation. Off the top of my head: MJ, Lebron, Kareem, Wilt, Russell, Bird, and Magic are unquestionably better than Kobe. Kobe was rarely even the best player in the NBA during his career. He won the MVP award exactly one time.



    "JR Rider cost him" - First of all, the Cavs aren't wining that series even if JR Smith (not JR Rider) had taken a shot (who knows if he makes it) versus sending game one of the series into OT. They lost to the Warriors 4-0. And even if you want to contend that Smith's boneheaded play broke the Cavs spirit, there is no no no no way Jordan would have let his team fold after a mistake like that.

    "Kyrie and Love being hurt cost him" - You are aware that Jordan won a title when he was so sick he could barely get out of bed, right? It is not like the Bull had perfect health ever single post-season.

    "Dirk cost him" - So, your contention is that the GOAT lost a series to a team that was clearly less talented because someone on the other team was better than the GOAT? Ummmm, the grand total of times someone was better than Jordan in the playoffs is zero (ok, maybe one... he was merely great, not the greatest, in 1995 when he came back from early retirement).

    "Kawhi cost him" - See my above retort. How can Lebron be the GOAT when he keeps losing to guys who are better than him? This argument makes no sense to me.

    "Playing 6 All-stars cost him" - I'll give you this one. That Warriors team was stacked in a major way and the Cavs simply did not have the weapons to fight back. But, you know one of the amazing thing about the Bulls? Jordan somehow made those mediocre players pretty darn good all by himself. It is not like the Bulls were loaded with All-stars. Other than Pippen, they were a bunch of role players who Jordan molded into the pieces that would prove unbeatable in the playoffs. Lebron's is often on teams that just don't work all that well together. I dunno how much of it is his fault, but this never happened to Jordan. There has to be some responsibility to the star here, doesn't there?

    The GOAT does not lose 6 NBA finals... he just doesn't. Make all the excuses you want but the reality is that Jordan would not let his teams lose. That is what makes him the GOAT. Lebron... not so much.
    Thank you for writing this so I did not have to.

    You cannot defend LeBron against Jordan by saying that LeBron got outplayed by other individual players.

    Spurs in 07 and GSW w/o Kyrie and Love are fair write-offs. The rest of them... not so much.

    Dirk? Really? That would be like MJ losing to MVP Barkley in 93. Was. not. going. to. happen.
    Kawhi and the Spurs? That would be like the Bulls splitting with Utah in 97/98. See above.

    LeBron is extraordinary and by far the best player of his generation. Much better than Kobe-- and I'm an LA born, lover of all things Lakers. He is amazing to watch and I greatly admire how he has carried himself off of the court (aside from The Decision). Michael just has him beat. Michael refused to lose.

  3. #63
    Quote Originally Posted by luvdahops View Post
    IMHO, the realistic discussion only includes MJ, Lebron, Wilt and Kareem. Dominant at both ends of the floor, clearly the best in the game for most of their careers, lots of postseason success (my criteria, admittedly). And I rank them in that order. MJ above Lebron primarily because he ALWAYS wanted the ball with the game on the line, and edges him on most advanced metrics.

    Bird and Magic were both mediocre defenders overall, and Russell was never a dominant offensive player (did not lead the Celtics in scoring even once, and generally ranked 3rd or 4th on the team). Russell also consistently had the most talented teammates through the course of his career.
    My list (no particular order):
    Kareem
    MJ
    LeBron

    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    Anyone else

  4. #64
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    Santa Clara, CA
    Wading into the LeBron v MJ debate. I personally think LeBron is the better basketball player as he has the better all-around game. That's not to say MJ wasn't better than James in various areas... in particular, the killer instinct. But LeBron is the better team player in that he makes his teammates better. Some of those Cavs teams he took to the Finals might not have even made the playoffs without him. Quick - name a single person on the 2006 Cavs that made the finals other than LeBron!... If you said Larry Hughes, you must be Larry's mom.

    MJ was the better dunker. LeBron is/was stronger.

    Jordan was the better scorer and defender. LeBron is/was the better passer and rebounder.

    Jordan won 6 titles. LeBron went to 8 straight finals, has been to 9 and isn't done yet.

    Jordan got to all of his Finals with Pippin and Jackson. LeBron got to his Finals with a smorgasbord of players and coaches.

    One can go back and forth on this. Ultimately it can may down to the Williams/DiMaggio agreement. DiMaggio called Williams the greatest hitter in baseball, while Williams called DiMaggio the greatest ballplayer he'd ever seen.

    That all being said, LeBron is much more of a whiner than Jordan ever was. And "The Decision" was terrible. I really don't like LeBron. But I do think he's the better basketball player. With all due respect to Kareem, Magic, Chamberlain, Russell and Bird, Jordan and LeBron are 1-2 (or 2-1) on my NBA greatest list.

    9F
    Bucket List - Throw a party when Duke MBB has a winning record against Carolina.

  5. #65
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    Colorado
    Here's my bias. I loved the Chicago Bulls. I grew up in Chicago and went to scores of games at the old Chicago Stadium in the late 1960's, the 1970's and 1981. Parenthetically, a great, ratty, rundown old place to watch a ball game.

    I moved to Denver in 1982 so was not there during the Jordan glory years. I followed them closely and saw them in person a few times at various venues.

    Jordan is the greatest player of all time. He is the greatest winner of all time. Pippen was good but did little without Jordan. Many of the other Bulls were ordinary, average players.

    Feel free to disagree and no disrespect to others in the conversation. Jordan was a ruthless, ornery, hard working, relentless player who willed his teammates, maybe tortured them, to heights they never would have reached without Jordan.

  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernDukie View Post
    ďOkay. A simple wrong would have done just fine, but...ď
    Sorry, I may have been a bit aggressive. But, you put Kobe into the GOAT conversation and I just could not keep myself from shouting that down.
    I don't know what you are doing right now, but if you aren't listening to the DBR Podcast, you're doing it wrong.

  7. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by JasonEvans View Post

    The GOAT does not lose 6 NBA finals... he just doesn't. Make all the excuses you want but the reality is that Jordan would not let his teams lose. That is what makes him the GOAT. Lebron... not so much.
    Does the GOAT temporarily retire from the Sport when he loses his coach and his right hand man? MJ was great- no question, but he did benefit from the continuity of an organization- and coach who showed he could win big even without MJ. I would put MJ above Lebron in shooting and ability to will a win- but Lebron has personified excellence on both ends of the court on multiple teams- not sure anyone is close to him on that
    dukelifer

  8. #68
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    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by MartyClark View Post
    Jordan is the greatest player of all time. He is the greatest winner of all time.
    Greatest player? Maybe, certainly a reasonable argument. But greatest winner? Bill Russell won 2 NCAA titles at The University of San Franciso, an Olympic Gold medal and 11 NBA titles in 13 years.

    Howard

  9. #69
    Quote Originally Posted by kako View Post

    That all being said, LeBron is much more of a whiner than Jordan ever was. And "The Decision" was terrible. I really don't like LeBron.
    Different eras. I expect there would be a lot more MJ detractors (from a likability/personality perspective, not from a on the court performance evaluation) if he was in the current era with so much media coverage and the internet with more direct access. (Notwithstanding his gambling issues and his adultery). MJ and the team were able to basically frame his persona in the way they wanted largely. And as for on the court whining, reffing seems a lot different these days as MJ never got called for anything while for some reason LeBron does. Having said all that, MJ is likely the GOAT IMO. You seemingly have to be arrogant in some capacity to have that killer instinct that he had.

  10. #70
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    NC
    Worth noting that Jordan was vested plenty of times in the playoffs - just always before the Finals. He just happened to hit an era where when his teams made the Finals his opponents werenít great. Jordanís teams were favored in at least 5 of his 6 finals. LeBronís teams in just 3 or 4 of 9.

    LeBron was better at getting inferior teams to the Finals, whereas Jordan could not do that. Conversely, Jordan was better at winning when favored.

    This isnít to say one or the other is clearly better. They are both great and in the top 3 or 4 ever. Kareem and Wilt deserve your be in that discussion too, and Kareem has a strong case for #1.

  11. #71
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    LBJ isn't done , MJ is. LBJ has baked his cake but we have no idea if it's fully iced yet. Tough to compare them when LBJ will almost certainly add more individual accolades and very possibly championships to his resume.

    I guess there's a certain segment of the MJ v. LBJ debaters for whom the answer could NEVER possibly be LBJ but the rest of us should at least give the man a chance to take off his apron first!

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDu View Post
    Worth noting that Jordan was vested plenty of times in the playoffs - just always before the Finals. He just happened to hit an era where when his teams made the Finals his opponents werenít great. Jordanís teams were favored in at least 5 of his 6 finals. LeBronís teams in just 3 or 4 of 9.

    LeBron was better at getting inferior teams to the Finals, whereas Jordan could not do that. Conversely, Jordan was better at winning when favored.

    This isnít to say one or the other is clearly better. They are both great and in the top 3 or 4 ever. Kareem and Wilt deserve your be in that discussion too, and Kareem has a strong case for #1.
    Personally, I just canít put old-school centers in the conversation of all-time greats such as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and LeBron James.

    As primary ballhandlers these guys had to be adept at passing from long distances while on the move, shooting from anywhere on the court whether near the basket or not, and, of course, handling the ball all over the court. The centers didnít really need those skills as they were mostly camped out near the basket.

  13. I don't understand the narrative that LeBron makes teammates better as a reason to one-up him over Jordan.

    LeBron didn't win any titles without superstar teammates. He didn't during his first stint at Cleveland, and he needed Wade and Bosh with the Heat, and Kyrie and Love with the Cavs. Were Wade, Bosh, Kyrie and Love "better" players next to LeBron? Was Ingram a better player next to LeBron? Hard to say; certainly not clear enough for this "LeBron makes teammates better than Jordan did" narrative to work unquestioned in my opinion.

    I agree with the assessment that Jordan's Bulls had one superstar in Pippen and a bunch of very good role players. Is it not possible those role players were very good because of Jordan?

    I also hate this 9 finals argument as a reason for LeBron's greatness. Would he have gone to 9 finals if he was on a Western team? Did his Lakers even make the playoffs last year? Making the finals is a flawed milestone given how weak the East was for many of those years. Sorry, how many finals you get to is not an important variable in the GOAT discussion. How many finals you lost, however, is notable.

    All that said, I'm a huge LeBron fan. I bought his shoes, drafted him in fantasy multiple times, and am amazed by what he was doing this season. He is clearly in the conversation for GOAT. However, he is not yet there. There's still time though.

  14. #74

    Russell>Jordan, Wilt, etc.

    One of my favorite posts of all time by the late, and very missed, Olympic Fan (Al Featherstone.) He did an excellent job of describing just how Russell lifted the Celtics when he arrived and how they declined as soon as he left. 11 NBA Championships in 13 years. Back to Back NCAA Championships. Olympic Gold. My GOAT vote stays with Russell. My biggest question is...who is No.2? Jordan? Kareem? Wilt? Etc.?

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympic Fan View Post
    Which record is that?

    We've had this discussion several times. Michael Jordan is the product of the ESPN hype machine. Russell, who played long before there was a Sportscenter, was a far more dominant player than Michael Jordan.

    And, yes, Russell changed the game as much or more than Michael Jordan ever did (the modern goaltending rules are a product of his shotblocking prowess).

    Let's put it in simple terms: His teams won. They won far more often that Jordan's teams (or Wilt's teams or Oscar's teams).

    Yeah, he had good teammates -- but so did the other guys. Look it up, Philadelphia was actually more successful before Wilt joined the team than the Celtics were before Russell joined the team. The Warriors won the 1956 NBA title without Wilt. The Celtics had never before reached the NBA finals (much less won a title) before Russell joined the team at midseason in 1956-57 (he joined at midseason so he could represent the US in the '56 Olympic games). After that, they never stopped winning until Russell retired. The '56 champion Warriors didn't win again, even after adding Wilt, until Russell retired.

    It's worth noting that his San Francisco teams won back to back national titles in his last two years there -- that's more NCAA titles than Jordan, Wilt, Oscar, Jerry West or Larry Bird won COMBINED. Yeah, KC Jones was a teammate for the first title, but Jones was ineligible for the '56 playoffs.

    Just for fun, someday look up Jordan's teammates in 1983 and 1984 and compare them with Russell's teammates in 55 and 56. You might be surprised what you find.

    Let's see ... Russell was the best player on teams that won two straight NCAA titles, the Olympic Gold and Celtics teams that won the NBA title in 11 of his 13 seasons. The Celtics, which had never won anything before Russell, won the NBA title in his first two seasons (then he got hurt and the Celtics lost in the finals), then they won seven more titles in a row. They also won in his final year when Wilt faked an injury and hid on the bench. And the year after Russell retired, the Celtics -- with all those great players who are supposed to be the reason he won so many titles -- finished below .500 and failed to make the playoffs.

    Russell is the greatest winner in the history of team sports -- his teams won the ultimate championship in 13 of his last 15 seasons (14 of 16 if you count the Olympics).

    Jordan was a great player and a great winner too. We all remember that he hit the game-winner to help Dean Smith win his first championshp in 1982. But do you remember that James Worthy was the star of that team (and the Final Four MVP) and it also had three-time All-American Sam Perkins.

    In the two college seasons after Worthy left, Jordan constantly choked in postseason -- to NC State and Duke in the ACC Tournament semifinals; to Georgia in the Elite Eight and to Indiana in the Sweet 16.

    Eventually, Jordan became a winner in the NBA, after a long apprenticeship. After the Bulls added Scottie Pippen. In contrast, Russell won right away and kept winning. Yeah, he won with Cousy (who had never won anything before Russell arrived) ... and he kept winning when Cousy retired. He won before Havlicek arrived and after he arrived.

    Your comment that Oscar and Wilt were better than Russell suggest that you are mesmerized by individual stats -- the way Oscar and Wilt were. They put up great numbers. But they weren't winners. Oscar never got Cincinnati to the national title game, but they got there three straight times in the three years after he left (winning two titles). Can you really argue that a guy's the greatest player ever when his team gets better after he leaves?

    Oscar won one NBA title, when late in his career, he finally hooked up with Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

    Wilt choked against UNC in the 1957 title game and he was constantly beaten by Russell. Yeah, he had great numbers against the Celtics, but at crunch time, Russell ALWAYS shut him down. (Russell explained in his autobiography that during the game, he'd let Wilt get the ball where he wanted and take the shots he wanted -- until the game was on the line and Russell would beat him to the spot and deny him the shots he wanted. It always worked and Wilt -- being the mental midget he was -- never figured it out).

    My point is that the object of the game is to win, not to score a lot of individual points or pile up a lot of stats. Who is to say that the things Russell did -- his ability to dominate games at the defensive end and on the boards -- were not more important than Jordan's ability to score points? The record that you talk about would seem to indicate that Russell's contributions led to more victories than Jordan's contributions.

    Am I right that Russell is the greatest player in basketball history? I think so, but I'm not so arrogant as you are -- and so many other children of the ESPN era are -- to think that my opinion is fact and there's no room for debate.

    Just understand that this IS a matter of opinion and there are plenty of varying opinions out there -- and it's not so crazy to suggest that Bill Russell and not Michael Jordan is not the greatest player of all time.

  15. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by JTH View Post
    One of my favorite posts of all time by the late, and very missed, Olympic Fan (Al Featherstone.) He did an excellent job of describing just how Russell lifted the Celtics when he arrived and how they declined as soon as he left. 11 NBA Championships in 13 years. Back to Back NCAA Championships. Olympic Gold. My GOAT vote stays with Russell. My biggest question is...who is No.2? Jordan? Kareem? Wilt? Etc.?
    I saw Russell play and besides, I'll take OLY's word for it.

    GoDuke!

  16. #76
    I don't get the notion that MJ's teams rolled in the Finals. The Suns and Jazz in '98 were leading a game 6 late. The Sonics were hanging around in their game 6 for a long time. I also don't buy that Pippen was "nothing" without MJ - the 93/94 Bulls were 55-27. MJ also did lose a playoff series during this run but it has been wiped away because he had just come back - fair enough - but he did lose.

    Also adding Phil Jackson teams were aesthetically brutal to watch.

  17. #77
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    It's game 7 of the NBA Finals and you can draft any player in history in his absolute prime to be on your team. Who are you taking?
    Singler is IRON

    I STILL GOT IT! -- Ryan Kelly, March 2, 2013

  18. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven43 View Post
    Personally, I just canít put old-school centers in the conversation of all-time greats such as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and LeBron James.

    As primary ballhandlers these guys had to be adept at passing from long distances while on the move, shooting from anywhere on the court whether near the basket or not, and, of course, handling the ball all over the court. The centers didnít really need those skills as they were mostly camped out near the basket.
    All of this has to be cosidered relative to the era that they played in. Otherwise the answer is always "today's players are better".

    Jordan played in an era where most small forwards didn't have great ballhandling skills, and 200lbs was a good size for a wing (weight training didn't really start to take off until the latter part of his career). If you dropped him into today's era, it's questionable whether he'd have the same impact. Because guys like LeBron and Durant were playing different roles back in the 80s and 90s than they are today.

    By the same token, Chamberlain and Abdul-Jabbar played in a different era, where bigs were asked to play differently than today. You can't just assume that they would be the same type of player if they were developing in today's world.

  19. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by howardlander View Post
    Greatest player? Maybe, certainly a reasonable argument. But greatest winner? Bill Russell won 2 NCAA titles at The University of San Franciso, an Olympic Gold medal and 11 NBA titles in 13 years.

    Howard
    Yup, you are right.

    I was trying to talk about Michael's drive to win and, that in my opinion, that drive exceeded any other player. I didn't say it very well and, if I did, it would be debatable.

    Bill Russell, by record, is the winningest b-ball player and I did not intend to ignore the obvious.

  20. #80
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. synellinden View Post
    It's game 7 of the NBA Finals and you can draft any player in history in his absolute prime to be on your team. Who are you taking?
    Larry Joe Bird. But since he didn’t get to play at his prime for very long, without some injuries here and there, I can’t say he’s the GOAT. One game - Game 7 - in his prime and injury free? Yep, I’m taking Bird.

    And I dare Jason to tell me I’m crazy this time.

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