Reasonable opinions tend to go out the window when LeBron James is discussed. The biggest debate surrounding the current best player in the game is how he stacks up next to Michael Jordan. But Jordan’s main partner in crime raised a fairly good point yesterday.
After parents witnessed James dominating a bunch of kids in a game of 1-on-6 at a basketball camp, a fierce debate about the Cavaliers star’s greatness broke out. Jordan and Magic Johnson were the only players mentioned as being on James’ level.
The debate went on for about 10 minutes. It’s an ongoing, years-old argument, but one Hall-of-Famer not mentioned above says people need to look beyond Jordan and Magic when breaking down James’ skill-set.
“I was LeBron James before LeBron James,” Bulls great Scottie Pippen told Northeast Ohio Media Group. “It’s not even close.”
Pippen will turn 50 in September, but he could easily pass for 35. It doesn’t seem like that long ago when he was a dominating force on both ends of the floor. At 6-7, he played some point-forward and would take the opposing team’s best perimeter player out of the game.
Playing alongside Jordan, arguably the greatest player to ever play the game, in many ways took away from Pippen’s greatness and often excludes him from the James discussion – even though Pippen and Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA titles.
“I’m no slouch, but when comparing LeBron’s game, I’m usually left out,” he said.
Look, I’m not the biggest Pippen fan in the world, but there’s something to this. James has said multiple times that he modeled his game off of Pippen’s. And James certainly plays a more physical brand of ball than Jordan did.
“They want to compare him to the greatest, whether it be Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson, but he’s more closer to myself,” Pippen said. “It’s natural for folks to say that, but if you look at how he plays the game and how I played the game, you’ll see more similarities with us.”
There you have it, people. Adjust your LeBron talking points to include Pippen. He’d really appreciate it.