When Michael Jordan Showed His Humility During a GOAT Debate

Published 08/30/2021, 2:30 PM EDT
SAN FRANCISCO – OCTOBER 10: U.S. Team assistant Michael Jordan watches the action on #15 during the third round morning foursome matches for The Presidents Cup at Harding Park Golf Club on October 10, 2009 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)


There has been a constant debate among analysts and fans about who is NBA’s greatest of all time. However, most players mention during the debate do not claim to be the greatest themselves. One of the biggest names in the discussion, Michael Jordan is extremely humble when it comes to the conversation of him being better than others.

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While Jordan may have been a trash talker on the court, off the court, he is as respectful as they come. MJ has never claimed to be the best player to ever play, even though many believe he is. Despite of all his achievements, he has put respect on the ones that came before him.

Michael Jordan of the United States before the United States 97–49 win over China during the men’s Basketball competition on 29 July 1984 during the XXIII Olympic Summer Games at the The Forum in Inglewood, California, United States. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Allsport/Getty Images)
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Michael Jordan with a Perfect Reply

During Michael’s playing days, a reporter asked him if his accomplishments take him over all the great players. The reporter mentions Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Larry Bird. However, Jordan remained as humble as ever.

He responded that putting himself over them can’t be established, as they played in different eras. Jordan replied saying, “No. I think that’s something that I really can’t say can be established. Each one of us play in our different eras, with different teams, with different levels of success. And to compare all of them and say one’s better than the next is an unfair justice to the art or to the artists.”

The six-time champion further explained how players like Magic and Wilt are the artists and he himself learned from them. While Jordan did admit that they have improved the image, he said one improvement is not better than all the others did.

(Original Caption) Michael Jordan, forward for the Chicago Bulls, holding a basketball in the locker room.

The Hall of Famer holds a fair point as players from different eras played according to their times. We can’t compare the players as the rules and play style differ. So, where does this leave the Jordan vs LeBron debate?

Is there a GOAT?

There is no question that the debate between LeBron James and Michael Jordan will keep going. However, it isn’t right to compare the two greats.

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The primary reason remains their role and position. While Jordan was a shooting guard, LeBron has been a small forward and point guard throughout his career. Moreover, their roles differ a lot. Jordan was the primary offensive force while LeBron is asked to score as well as make plays. Hence. even stats can not be justified in this case.

AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND – SEPTEMBER 26: Ex-NBA star Michael Jordan watches the action during the Morning Fourballs of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 26, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Secondly, the eras plays a big part. The Majority of Jordan’s fans say that he was part of a much physical style of basketball and hold that against LeBron. However, it should not be the case as LeBron never got the chance to play in such an era. So holding that against him is not fair.

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Do you think there is a real GOAT in basketball? Let us know in the comments below.

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Anuj Talwalkar

276 articles

Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.

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