By Jack Glassman — Sports Editor
After sinking a fade away shot from mid-range, LeBron James officially passed Kareem Abdul-Jabar as the NBA’s all time leading scorer. James continues to put the league on notice in his 20th season with his outstanding ability to score regardless of his older age of 38.
In sports like football and hockey it is clear who the greatest player ever is; however, the NBA GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) debate is ongoing as both James and Michael Jordan have their own impressive resumes. James has 4 MVP (Most Valuable Player) awards, the all-time scoring record, and four championships, winning finals MVP in all four of the wins. On the other hand, Jordan has five MVP awards, one defensive player of the year award, and six championships, also winning finals MVP in each win.
Jordan’s elite defense that was played throughout his career sets him apart from the gameplay of James. Senior Matt Baur says, “I like Jordan’s game more, my biggest argument for him being the GOAT is his defense. Jordan was consistently a phenomenal defender like top in the league in defending and LeBron never was.”
While in the eyes of some people, Jordan is the greatest ever, James is recognized as the greatest by many according to certain statistics. “I think anybody saying LeBron isn’t the GOAT anymore it’s just how they feel…if you look at the numbers, LeBron is the best player of all-time,” senior Jack Bates said.
The NBA GOAT debate isn’t so clear cut, so it is hard to decide whether Jordan or James deserve the top spot in the list of the greatest basketball players ever. Senior Tyler Goodman says, “Since I’m not a mathematician, I can’t give out a guaranteed number one GOAT spot so I put LeBron James and Michael Jordan tied at number one for the GOAT.”
Before James and Jordan, players like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar dominated the game. “Kareem was the all-time leading scorer before LeBron, he has the most MVPs of all time, six championships, and he was just unstoppable. I don’t think he gets enough credit because he was a big man and big men aren’t typically seen as the best on their team,” Baur said.
Bates adds, “Kareem was the all-time leading scorer for a very long time…he should be considered as one of the top players for holding that record for so long.”
In the modern era of the NBA, many players have high scoring games more frequently, having people questioning how to measure greatness in today’s game. Goodman says, “I think if you’re scoring a lot then you’re scoring a lot and that means you’re a pretty good player unless you’re just hogging the ball.”
This constant high scoring could call for a rule change in the NBA. “I think there has to be a change coming to the game and it has to come soon, but nobody really knows what it is. It could be the adding of a four point line or the removal of the three point line,” Bates said.
Many older fans talk about how today’s players could not survive in the old NBA and younger fans say that old players could not survive today, but others say that James and Jordan are exceptions to these arguments. Baur says, “I think Jordan could survive in this era and LeBron could survive in the 80’s and 90’s…Jordan brought that defense, physicality, and winning mentality, he was just different in terms of competitiveness. And for LeBron, he’s an absolute freak, I think he’d survive in any era.”