Michael Jordan did an interview promoting NBA 2K14 (in stores now) and was asked about playing LeBron James and other players of this era one-on-one if he were still in his prime. It was a softball question. What did you think Jordan would say?
“I don’t think I would lose. Other than to Kobe Bryant because he steals all of my moves.”
LeBron was asked about this and his first reaction was to laugh that Jordan made the comment while promoting “his game” (remember LeBron is on the cover this year). Then LeBron said, via Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
LeBron on MJ saying he could beat him 1-on-1 in their primes: "MJ said that? I've thought about the matchup but no one will ever see it."
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) October 1, 2013
Domino effect. I stole some of his..this generation stole some of mine #thecycle
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) October 1, 2013
Kobe and LeBron are kind of treating MJ like you treat your drunk uncle at Christmas telling you how much better the NBA was back in his day. As they should. The game evolves, the players evolve and the league evolves with it — better is your subjective decision based on your preferences and what is imprinted on your neurons. Comparing players across eras in the NBA is generally farcical.
Jordan can say he’s win one-on-one, maybe he would. But that he is that competitive and protective of his legacy at age 50 is something today’s players should have a laugh about.