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Stephen A. Smith Responds To Mike Malone's Reason Why LeBron James Will Never Catch Up To Michael Jordan

(via NBA - NBC Sports)

(via NBA - NBC Sports)

Will the GOAT debate ever end? Even as the hype surrounding Michael Jordan and his 90s Bulls teams rise, LeBron James continues to build up his case at 35-years-old.

One can honestly say that the conversation has never been so heated.

In one of the most recent talks about the neverending GOAT debate, Nuggets coach Mike Malone said both have a legitimate case but that "LeBron did not have the same the same mindset as Jordan."

In response, Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN's First Take that while he rejects the idea that anybody but Jordan can be considered the GOAT, he agrees that it's LeBron's mentality that holds him back.

"He's not wrong if he's saying that Michael Jordan is the greatest of all-time which he said. He said LeBron James is arguably the greatest of all-time as well. Well that's in the minds of people who didn't watch Michael Jordan and compared the two.

"When you look at LeBron James as an overall talent, he's on my Mt. Rushmore. But the big thing for me, everybody brings up Jordan a 10x Scoring Champion, 6x Champion, 6x NBA Finals MVP, all of that other stuff. The big thing for me is the killer instinct that Malone brought up.

What it took LeBron James years to get to in terms of his mentality, losing in the NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks, being highly criticized because of that, the following All-Star game, meaningless game, game on the line, down two points against the Western Conference, and instead of taking the ball you get a pass stolen by Blake Griffin because you're trying to pass the ball in the corner. Carmelo Anthony comes out of the corner, Dwyane Wade comes up to him, Kobe Bryant is screaming at him to "shoot the f--in ball. All of those guys were in his face saying "take the damn shot what are you doing?" because LeBron James was highly maligned during those times."

Smith and others are of the opinion that LeBron James was mentally weak before winning his first Championship with the Heat in 2012. Jordan did not have that same struggle. Almost immediately, he was the same passionate, strong, and unbreakable superstar he was through the end of his career.

He was the one taking the last shot, he was the one who didn't shy away from the big moment. He wasn't afraid of what the world would think of him if he missed.

Whatever your feelings about the argument, it is one of the main reasons why so many are reluctant to put LeBron over Jordan. James will have to fight an uphill battle if he wants to change that.