The greatest NBA player of all time debate usually winds up being about Michael Jordan and LeBron James. But Scottie Pippen wouldn’t necessarily even put them in the same sentence.
In fact, Jordan’s former right-hand man puts Kobe Bryant above The King, telling ESPN’s Cari Champion on “SportsCenter” on Wednesday, “I don’t think he’s surpassed Kobe at all.”
While the numbers tell a different story between James and the former Los Angeles Lakers star, Pippen’s reasoning is fairly sound. The way Pippen sees it, the Cleveland Cavaliers forward simply is a different kind of player than Jordan and Bryant.
“I don’t think he should be compared to either of those players because they play different positions,” Pippen told Champion. “Kobe and Michael are both 2-guards. They’re both scorers. They’re mostly like a Kyrie (Irving). They’re looking to score the basketball when it hits their hand. They’re not looking to make plays for anybody on the floor. They’re not looking to be a facilitator. That’s the role that LeBron plays because he’s such a dominant and powerful force and he’s a great passer.”
Of course, most NBA fans and historians compare players overall rather than by position, so it’d be hard to find anyone else making that argument. But Pippen’s system of comparing players doesn’t look upon James unfavorably.
“I like to compare him to Magic (Johnson),” Pippen said. “I think he plays a lot more like Magic. A lot more like myself, how I played. Obviously, he’s more dominant than both me and Magic because of the way that he plays the game. His physicality, his athleticism surpass Magic, as well as me.”
Thumbnail photo via Casey Sapio/USA TODAY Sports Images