Who is the Greatest NBA Player of All-Time?
By Dean Joannou
NBA fans have always sought to enthusiastically debate who they feel is the greatest player to ever play in the league. In the social media age of constant highlights and sound bites, it is easy to find viewers less inclined to live in the moment, preferring to apply each new piece of information to a broader debate of all-time greatness. A player who a fan considers the greatest of all time is usually referred to by the convenient acronym, GOAT.
As it stands, the conversation typically centers around Michael Jordan, who played between 1984-2003, and LeBron James, who debuted in the 2003-2004 and continues to dominate, winning Finals MVP this past postseason.
Mikey Domagala, a senior journalism major, believes Michael Jordan deserves the crown. “Michael Jordan has always been my GOAT, and he still is,” he said. “He is 6-0 in the Finals, and his stats are all time ranked even though he retired in his prime so early.”
Domagala does not underestimate LeBron James’ ability to make the conversation more interesting in the future. “LeBron is right there nipping at his heels. When it’s all said and done, I think LeBron won’t surpass MJ, but they’ll be at the same level,” he said. “LeBron’s longevity and staying in his prime at 35 is incredible.”
Domagala sums up his feelings toward Jordan one last time. “Michael’s overall dominance in the game of basketball, pop culture, shoe culture, and influence on the world makes him my GOAT right now,” he said. “Also, he came back at 39-40 (years old) and was a top-five in the NBA.”
Domagala, whose Facebook page, “NBA Buzz,” has grown to 2.6 million followers, is far from alone in his assessment. An ESPN’s October 15th poll found that 73% of respondents felt Jordan was the better all-time player between him and James.
Senior sports management major Eddie McQuade is partial to LeBron James. “I’m a LeBron fan, so yes, I think he’s the GOAT, but you can’t go wrong either way,” McQuade said.
LeBron James’ 34,241 career points rank ahead of Jordan’s 32,292, good for 3rd and 5th place all-time, respectively. Many consider James’ surpassing Jordan on the career scoring list to be particularly impressive, considering his greatest strength over the last 17 years has arguably been his passing.
Contrary to James, Michael Jordan has never lost an NBA Finals series, winning the championship in all six of his Finals appearances. James has won four titles and has lost in the NBA Finals six times, meaning that while he has two fewer championship rings than Jordan, he has won his conference ten times to Jordan’s six.