Rarely does a contemporary of Michael Jordan rank him behind LeBron James in the GOAT debate. And yet, Bill Laimbeer did it and explained it.
Michael Jordan may be globally considered the best basketball player of all time, but not everyone is ready to unanimously grant him this G.O.A.T. One of his contemporaries and hated ex-rival, Bill Laimbeer, thinks for example that a player who arrived after « MJ » surpasses him in this hypothetical ranking: LeBron James. This is what he explained during his appearance on the show « First Take » on ESPN.
« I’m not afraid to say that LeBron James is the best player of all time. He is 2.03m, 115kg, runs like the wind, jumps like no one and knows from the day he arrived in the NBA how involve his teammates in the victory.
This is something that Michel Jordan took a long time to learn. If we only refer to the titles, Jordan has more, obviously. But I think LeBron James would get to do what he does today in any generation.
So I firmly believe that he is the best player to have ever played basketball, « said Laimbeer, 64 today.
We expected no less from Bill Laimbeer. His Pistons were the first and only real thorn in Michael Jordan’s side before achieving iconic status. The one who is now the coach of the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA has arguments that are defended and the idea that LeBron James is a more complete basketball player than anyone who has ever walked a floor is entirely admissible.
The theme of the G.O.A.T. nevertheless involves other parameters than the number of titles or the pure talent and it is a vast debate which nevertheless generally ends with a « victory » of the one who has never lost an NBA Finals. Jordan has had, for the moment, a stronger cultural impact than the « Chosen One ».
Bill Laimbeer has also displayed a little frustration with the status of the Bad Boys in history and finds them underrated, which we can grant him.
« We won two titles and without a refereeing error in Game 6 against the Lakers we would have won three. I think we have changed basketball, for good or for bad. A lot of rules have been put in place. because of us and our physical play. What we were able to do, no one else could.
We brought defense to this league. Everyone says we destroyed basketball, but we just made life difficult for the other teams in attack.
That’s how you had to do to win, even though no one remembers playing the most prolific game in history at the time. Injecting defense into the NBA is our most enduring legacy. »
Bill Laimbeer in First Take