• Cyrus Rogers

The GOAT debate is a generational thing

The debate around the Greatest Player of All Time is one that won't be solved quickly. However, the argument can be made for numerous GOATS, than just the one.

The GOAT debate is a generational thing
So often we as basketball fans get into the most timeless of debates, who is the greatest player to ever play the game? It’s a favorite topic of NBA fans who make the case for their favorite players and the historical statistics fly around like confetti. With LeBron James making his case for GOAT status game-by-game you can’t help but think that a sense of myopia has fallen on modern NBA fans when you review some of the players that get overlooked. Lets look at the names that get thrown around a lot lately - LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell to name a few.
There is something magical about MJ
Right now LeBron James and Michael Jordan are the two names that get mentioned the most often, as fans do battle at any public gathering or water-cooler. MJ is often regarded as the best to ever do it in the NBA by people of a certain age, with his haul of championships and numerous personal accolades the key determinant. Six NBA Finals visits and six titles won with the Chicago Bulls is a standout achievement, with Jordan taking the Finals MVP award every time. ‘Air Jordan’ also won five regular season MVP awards, and he took a couple of years off basketball to pursue a career in baseball whilst still in his prime. Jordan could do it all, as he dominated games offensively, but was also a terrific defender, winning the Defensive Player of the Year award once but featuring in nine NBA All-Defensive First Teams. Jordan became basketball in the 90’s with his name and the Bulls logo dominating the global sporting arena.
My ‘Bron is better than your ‘Bron
The case for LeBron James looks very similar as he is a player that can do it all on the basketball court and often has had to. LeBron James has towered over everyone in many of the NBA Finals he’s played in, topping scoring, assist and rebounding tables. Generally when fans pick Jordan over James they mention LeBron’s poorer return on trips to the NBA Finals. LeBron James has won three NBA championships, two with the Miami Heat and one with the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, King James has been to the NBA Finals nine times and did it eight seasons in a row, he has also been on the losing side on five of those appearances. That isn’t a personal dig at the great man, but the stat gets brought up a lot. LeBron is a three-time NBA Finals MVP, winning the gong with every title he’s won. He’s a four-time regular season MVP and has featured on five NBA All-Defensive First Teams having never won the Defensive Player of the Year award. James has also become the all-time NBA playoffs scoring leader in recent years and looks likely to cement his status as the best scorer in the postseason. The comparisons between ‘Bron and MJ can go on for hours with cases being made for either player, but it would be a never ending spiral of ‘my favorite is better than yours.’

GOATs are generational
There is no definitive answer to who is the best player to have ever played in the NBA. It’s not a purely statistical debate, it’s more of a ‘feeling’ rather than a hard facts kind of argument. I for one believe that Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain are the joint greatest of all time, whilst also giving a nod to Jordan and James. Russell and Chamberlain changed the landscape of basketball forever with rules being changed to dilute their sheer dominance. 11 championships in 13 seasons as a player, the last two also coming as the coach, make Russell one of the very best to ever step on the hardwood. Chamberlain is the only player to score 100 points in an NBA game as well as being the only player to average over 50 points a game in a season. He has the most 60-point, 50-point and 40-point games in NBA history, he was a machine on both ends of the court. I love the older generation of players like Russell, Chamberlain, Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, George Gervin to name a few. They were the precursor to the Michael Jordan’s, LeBron James’ and Steph Curry’s of this world. We can’t and shouldn’t forget what they achieved as it is the foundation for the modern game that we love so much. My argument here is that instead of having a ‘Greatest Of All Time’ debate we should have a ‘Greatest Of Their Generation’ debate. I know that GOAT rolls off the tongue, where as GOTG is tough to say or swallow. Let’s give the players their due and put some ‘respek’ on their names. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the most logical as well. There will come along another young player who changes the game in the future, lets enjoy who we have now and also sip some tea and think back of the best of a bygone era as well.

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