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Jordan says LeBron is best player in league (now that Kobe is injured)

Nov 1, 2013, 6:37 PM EDT

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Back in February, Michael Jordan said Kobe Bryant was the best player in the NBA, he would take Bryant’s five rings over LeBron James’ one.

Since then LeBron has won a second ring, a second consecutive Finals MVP, and his fourth regular season MVP award in the last five years.

So, how do you feel now MJ, he was asked in an Associated Press interview?

“It’s hard to pick. It’s hard to say the best player,” Jordan said. “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.”

Two quick thoughts here.

First, if in the last couple years you thought Kobe right now was better than LeBron right now, I’m not sure what sport you’ve been watching. Historical standing is up for debate (both are still playing, LeBron is still in his prime, it’s too early to have that conversation) but on the court right now it’s LeBron then everyone else in the league. Second, if you’re going to say “but Michael Jordan said Kobe was best just months ago” I would say look at his history as a GM/owner and talent evaluator.

But go ahead and fire up the tedious Kobe/LeBron historical debate we shouldn’t have yet in the comments if it makes you happy.

Jordan said he’d be happy to talk to LeBron and try to be a mentor.

“Sure, I would be willing to talk to a bunch of the kids,” Jordan told The Associated Press on Friday. “And actually I do. I don’t advertise it because I don’t want it to be misconstrued or to be viewed as tampering with other stars. I’m in a more difficult position than other owners because it can be viewed in a different way.

“But I’ve always welcomed an opportunity to talk to anybody, LeBron included.”

Jordan also killed the ridiculous idea of a comeback for a night.

“My knees feel good. My feet feel good. Everything on my body feels good and I don’t want to ruin that at the age of 50,” Jordan said. “I may mess around at my camp in Santa Barbara. The kids ask me to dunk and the next thing you know it was all over the news and the Internet. Then Jalen Rose says I’m coming back at 50. I try to stay away from those scenarios as much as possible.”

  1. yousuxxors - Nov 1, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    is it just me or does Jordan seem to have something against lebron? maybe hes just angry and bitter in his old age about trying baseball.

    • maikoch - Nov 2, 2013 at 3:17 AM

      Maybe he realizes that LeBron James is incredibly overrated.

    • belleby123 - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:06 AM

      Newsflash: Jordan is the most competitive athlete in the history of professional sports. I remember when Kobe first came into the league and appeared briefly in the All Star game with Jordan. Jordan acted like he wanted to punch him in the face. Kobe was what, 19? I felt bad for him. But that was Jordan–he didn’t want to beat the other guys, he wanted to humiliate them. Vince Lombardi would have been proud. Now, with LeBron being top dog by anyone’s yardstick, Jordan wants to put him in his place to. If the doofus can just bring to the Bobcats what he has in himself, though, then he would be on to something.

    • cullenand99 - Nov 2, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      Jordan knows that LeBron is the only player currently in the NBA that can surpass him and have a greater legacy, that’s why he’s bitter against him.

    • antistratfordian - Nov 2, 2013 at 7:00 PM

      “is it just me or does Jordan seem to have something against lebron?”

      It’s not just you. Ever since LBJ did the opposite of draft mates Wade and Melo and spurned Jordan Brand to make his own brand, MJ has been criticizing him. (Now LeBron’s brand is selling like hot cakes and it’s really the only player brand even remotely close to Jordan Brand – even though it’s not really close. Yet.).

      Even before the 2004 draft – MJ was saying LeBron wouldn’t be a good pro for at least 5 years. MJ – the sage talent scout that he is – was going off about, “going against 5’11 players in high school is not the same as going against NBA players. He’s going to be in for a rude awakening. Maybe, in 5 years, if he works real hard, he can turn into a decent pro.” I guess LeBron averaging 27/7/7 at age 19 really took MJ by surprise.

      So that’s been Jordan’s angle on LeBron since day 1. Obviously, because of MJ’s competitiveness, he didn’t like the fact that James was anointed “The Chosen One” or “The Next Jordan” before playing an NBA game. He didn’t like the fact that LeBron was exceptional at the one thing Jordan was criticized for most – passing. He didn’t like that LeBron could also score as well as he could pass. The whole idea of a flashy mega-superstar passer has been MJ uncomfortable since the 80s (via Magic, who Jordan said he hated losing MVPs too). He probably didn’t like the fact that Nike gave LeBron $90 million before he even played an NBA game either. So, in short, Jordan has always been defensive about LeBron.

      And, not surprisingly, according to Phil Jackson Kobe Bryant has been the same way since 2004 too… Jackson wrote that Kobe has always put a bullseye on LeBron’s back. Jackson even speculated that Kobe held a press conference the same day LeBron was getting drafted to try to take some shine off of what Jackson called “LeBron’s big day.”

      So Jordan and Kobe have always been defensive about James. They saw him as a threat – and with good reason.

  2. vi3tguy415 - Nov 1, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    its simple. LeBron is better now than kobe since hes injured. career wise, kobe all day. people r fascinated by james’ rebounds n assists numbers but don’t realize kobe’s not that much far off. 7 n 8 vs 6 and 5.5 or so. kobe’s scoring is way way way ahead of james. don’t understand why everyone thinks james is better. smh.WE NEED NOT TO LOOK AT THE PRESENT AND FORGET THE PAST. I bet 4 more yrs from now, people will say kyrie Irvin’s career is way better than CP3. give me a break.

    • motrip69 - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:59 AM

      Actually Lebron leads him in scoring also

    • motrip69 - Nov 2, 2013 at 9:03 AM

      And the present is the only thing that matters when judging who’s the best presently### Duh !!!

      • vi3tguy415 - Nov 2, 2013 at 12:26 PM

        Reading is fundamental. Stop chewing on lebums…..I said career wise

  3. vi3tguy415 - Nov 1, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    and stop with that nonsense ‘ nobody can be compared to LeBron”. look at grant hill’s numbers and talk to me.

    • antistratfordian - Nov 1, 2013 at 7:38 PM

      Okay… I’m looking at Grant Hill’s numbers and they don’t even come close. He’s not anywhere near as efficient with his time on the floor as LeBron – Hill is not even in the same realm in terms of raw productivity.

      • vi3tguy415 - Nov 2, 2013 at 12:29 AM

        its simple. LeBron is better now than kobe since hes injured. career wise, kobe all day. people r fascinated by james’ rebounds n assists numbers but don’t realize kobe’s not that much far off. 7 n 8 vs 6 and 5.5 or so. kobe’s scoring is way way way ahead of james. don’t understand why everyone thinks james is better. smh.WE NEED NOT TO LOOK AT THE PRESENT AND FORGET THE PAST. I bet 4 more yrs from now, people will say kyrie Irvin’s career is way better than CP3. give me a break.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 2, 2013 at 6:33 PM

        Kobe’s scoring isn’t “way way way” ahead of James. That’s why LeBron is 3rd all time in scoring average and Kobe is 10th. Even if you remove Kobe’s years riding the bench, his career scoring average is still less than LeBron’s.

        LeBron has more points than any 28 year old player in history. Kobe also came in the league at age 18 but he trailed LeBron at age 28 in total points.

        “people r fascinated by james’ rebounds n assists numbers but don’t realize kobe’s not that much far off.”

        Not that far off? LeBron ranks 28th all-time in career assist average (the only non-guard in the top 40). Kobe ranks 120th!

        LeBron ranks 173rd all-time in career rebound average. Kobe ranks 494th!

        So LeBron is 3rd all time in scoring average, 28th all time in assist average, 173rd in rebound average. Kobe is 10th all time in scoring average,120th all-time in assist average, 494th in rebound average. That’s not “close.”

        LeBron is the only player in history in the top 5 in scoring average who is also in the top 30 in assist average.

        LeBron is the ONLY player in the history of the NBA with career averages of at least 27 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds.

      • vi3tguy415 - Nov 2, 2013 at 12:30 AM

        U sure u know ego grant hill is? Not George hill right dummy?

      • antistratfordian - Nov 2, 2013 at 1:08 AM

        u sure you know what efficiency is? not just stat-per-game, genius?

        efficient productivity is about how many positive things you’re doing each minute on the floor. nobody in the modern game has been more efficient than michael jordan and lebron james. no one else even comes close to those two, much less grant freakin’ hill. he didn’t shoot well enough, didn’t score enough points, and wasn’t a good enough defender… among other things.

  4. antistratfordian - Nov 1, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    “Back in February, Michael Jordan said Kobe Bryant was the best player in the NBA…”

    This isn’t exactly what MJ said. His position is actually very similar to what it was back in February. Here’s the conversation from 9 months ago:

    RASHAD: Kobe or LeBron?

    JORDAN: Well, I mean… (pause)… that’s a tough one…. I’ll say… (pause)… Kevin Durant! (nervous laughter) Nah… in terms of dominance over the game of basketball, it would be LeBron. Championships won? Kobe Bryant.

    Curious cake-and-eat-it-too type of wording there. So I’m not sure what question he was actually answering – an “all-time” question or a “right now” question? It seems like he was crystal clear about the “all-time” question but deliberately vague with the “right now” question.

    I guess that doesn’t really matter now. Jordan has finally come to his senses. He was going to come around eventually, Kobe-injury or not.

  5. dls612 - Nov 1, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    Is that suppose to pass as a compliment? Kobe is the son Jordan always wanted!

  6. captainwisdom8888 - Nov 1, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    The basis of all arguments regarding who is the best player in a respective sport is this: EVERYONE’S CRITERIA OF EVALUATION IS DIFFERENT. One person may point to Kobe’s 5 rings and say THAT makes him the best player, while another person may say that those 5 rings point towards Kobe being the best player in the PAST. Now, are we asking ourselves who is the best player in the past, or the best player over the course of their entire career, or is the question more about WHO IS THE BEST PLAYER IN THE NBA RIGHT NOW?

    If the heart of his discussion lies in the present tense, then I believe there is very little room for debate that the best player on the planet right now is Lebron James.

  7. kb2408 - Nov 1, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    The fact that MJ gives the nod to LeBron in part because Kobe is coming off of an injury and is 6 or 7 years older is testament to Kobe’s greatness. Former/current players see things in a completely different light than sports columnists and numbskulls on a sports blog.

    • borderline1988 - Nov 2, 2013 at 11:30 PM

      “Former players see things in a completely different light than sports columnists and numbskulls on a sports blog”

      Maybe that explains the personnel moves that Jordan made to build the Bobcats. Because this numbskull thinks they suck and that Jordan has no clue how to evaluate basketball talent.

      But maybe if I was privy to the light, everything would make sense.

  8. jimeejohnson - Nov 1, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    KD’s a close second.

  9. captainwisdom8888 - Nov 1, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    I agree that former/current players see things very differently, and I would also contend that their own personal feelings towards the players in question can often count for as much as anything when it comes to basing their opinions on players.

    • kb2408 - Nov 1, 2013 at 9:03 PM

      Hmmmm, does that explain why D.Wade gave the nod to Kobe as the best player of this era?

      • motrip69 - Nov 2, 2013 at 9:01 AM

        Yeah what else would Wade say

  10. nflcinbengals - Nov 1, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    MJ

    #1

  11. 00maltliquor - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    File this in the, “No Freaking Duh” file, right behind the Thank You Captain Obvious folder.

    • eaglesandravens - Nov 2, 2013 at 12:19 AM

      Next to the “Nah, you think?” file.

  12. peddealer - Nov 1, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    Kurt Helin = Homeless man’s Craig Calcaterra

    • davidly - Nov 2, 2013 at 5:41 AM

      I can just see you sleeping on the street with only the Fireplace app from your iPhone to keep you warm.

  13. thetooloftools - Nov 2, 2013 at 12:35 AM

    Will LeBron EVER OWN the child he had with Sharon Reed (smoking hot) newsy and ex- clevelander?
    He needs to own it and move on but he won’t. Because he’s an Akron punk.

    • 00maltliquor - Nov 2, 2013 at 12:49 AM

      Dafuq you talking about??

    • cullenand99 - Nov 2, 2013 at 9:52 AM

      Why does it matter to you?

  14. shawnc16 - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    As soon as I read this article, I knew it was written by the Lebron groupie Kurt Helin.

  15. shawnc16 - Nov 2, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    Kurt Helin is a Lebron groupie.

  16. motrip69 - Nov 2, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    Who is Michael Jordan,didn’t he pick Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison as top draft picks ?? Didn’t he trade Rip Hamilton for Jerry Stack house? Doesn’t he own the Charlotte Hornets ? Being a great player doesn’t make s great talent evaluator , you all should Google up what Jerry West said about Lebron, I think his resume is superior to Jordan’s .

    • redbaronx - Nov 2, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      @motrip69 – MJ the GM (or President) is a disaster! I’m from DC and Wizards fans were glad Abe Pollin give him the boot. MJ made a lot of bad moves for us, and seems to be doing the same for the Bobcats (New Hornets).

      Why he feels like he needs to say he’s better than other guys, and make subtle digs is beyond me.

  17. jzone954 - Nov 2, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Well…..here it goes…..AGAIN
    The bi weekly quote from Jordan on Lebron and Kobe….AGAIN….

  18. ringjames - Nov 2, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    I believe Jeffrey has a man crush on LeBron. Why does he always answer questions about LeBron?

    in fact, Jeffrey knows LeBron is better than him.
    Jeffrey praises Kobe because he knows even if Kobe gets a 6th ring, stats will come into the conversation when determining who’s better. Jeffrey averaged 30-6-5 over his career. While Kobe averaged 25-5-4 for his career.

    LeBron on the other hand is averaging 27-7-7 over his career. If he gets a 6th ring, Jeffrey knows stats will decide who the GOAT is. And LeBron has better numbers than him.
    Oh and I didn’t even mention Jordan averaged like 4 more shots a game than LeBron. but he’s ony averaging 3 points more.

  19. redbaronx - Nov 2, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Is it just me or is Jordan getting less classier by the year? I love MJ the basketball player, but off the court he seems to take pot shots at every other player for one reason or another. He just had to qualify his remarks about LeBron “….now that Kobe is injured”.

    I think LeBron is the best player in the NBA the last two years period without any “asterisk” to it. Offense, defense, organizing his team.

  20. torontofalcon - Nov 2, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    Kurt the biggest LBJ homer man. I could feel him get sensitive about this topic while reading this article

  21. adamsjohn714 - Nov 2, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    Honestly, the quotes from Jordan about the Bobcats not tanking were worrying enough. I believe the man has lost his mind. Thankfully, I can still watch his actual basketball career on NBA TV and youtube, so I don’t think he’s been crazy his whole life.

  22. teedraper - Nov 3, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    I’ll trust Jordan’s assessment before some hack reporter like you Helin. Where have you EVER gotten front office experience to criticize anyone you FLUFFER!

    & you’re weak attempt at reverse psychology is lame at best you crab bish!

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