This week, everybody has had something to say about the GOAT debate. Since the NBA celebrated the top 75 players of all time and seeing that we didn't have games until Thursday, many people sparked this debate, making cases for their favorite players.
Stephen A. Smith debated Isiah Thomas on who the GOAT is, with the Detroit Pistons legend suggesting that when LeBron James surpasses Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time scoring list, he will become the undisputed GOAT.
He also mentioned that Jordan struggled during the 80s and couldn't beat Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but Smith wasn't having any of that. During a recent edition of ESPN's First Take, he proceeded to explain why those moments where Jordan tried to win and couldn't made him the legend he is right now.
Specifically, he talked about LeBron's inability to win a championship until he went to Miami and the fact that he couldn't do it when the Heat were heavy favorites to win it all against the Dallas Mavericks (3:20).
"You go to the first seven, eight years of your career, you lose. How you win your first championship? You go to Miami and join forces with D-Wade and Chris Bosh. Not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7. And before that happen, you lost to Dallas. And when you lost to Dallas, there were four, three straight 4th quarters were you were nowhere to be found while you were guarded by Jason Terry or Jason Kidd. When we talk about Jordan, and when we talk about LeBron -- it's not to throw shade, you're one of the top 2 players in the history of this sport. You're on the Mount Rushmore of basketball. What I'm saying is that we compare moments, sometimes moments are the one that define it."
Moreover, he mentioned that Zeke also faced some big obstacles and had impressive performances while struggling to win.
"Your greatest moment, some could argue, was in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers when you badly twisted your ankle, scored 25 points in one quarter, busting the living you know what, but then, you had a bad ankle when y'all lost your first shot against the Los Angeles Lakers. There's a lot of people that believe y'all beat the Los Angeles Lakers and the Lakers don't repeat if Isiah Thomas didn't get hurt. So even though you were a 2-time champion after, even Magic and them, and then the Blazers with Draxler and those boys. Your defining moment in a lot of people's eyes is that, because when we're talking about greatness, it's about moments we can peel from it. I'm telling you, look at Jordan and his moments. I'm looking at Jordan and his moments, I'm at undefeated, unblemished championship play when he was in the Finals, I'm thinking about the fact that he retired for two years before coming back and winning three more, and I'm thinking about the level of competition he went against. That's why I got LeBron No. 2 and MJ No. 1, and ain't a damn soul ever changing my mind over that."
Smith made a compelling case for MJ, while also acknowledging that every great player struggled before they became the legend they ended up being. Jordan didn't have the best record against Bird and Thomas during the 80s, but once he got past the Detroit Pistons, there was no stopping for him. Just like it happened with LeBron James, who fought and beat his demons, won a championship and then went to the Finals for many years.
This isn't the first or last time this will happen, and we need to know that winning a championship depends on many factors. Sometimes they align for a certain team. For Jordan, it was six times, while Bron won four championships during his 19-year career.