John Salley Says Michael Jordan IS NOT The Greatest Ever, And He's Correct

Let me preface this article by pre-empting your verbal strikes. I am sure I will be hit with comments, emails and tweets saying this is the worst thing they’ve ever read, that I have no idea what I’m talking about, that I am stupid, that I don’t know basketball, that I am a hater, that I am a troll, that I didn’t watch him play enough and that it’s common knowledge he is the greatest.

So to save both your and my time, I want to make one thing clear before you smother me in fist shaking and pitchfork waving;

I don’t care.

I was listening to Colin Cowherd’s radio show earlier today and John Salley made a controversial statement that has been festering in my mind for some time, but something I never dared to instate because I didn’t think it was worth it. Sure, Salley is hardly the figure I would choose to open this window and allow me to somewhat confidently write my thoughts, but he’ll have to do.

Salley was on The Herd and was flatly asked by Cowherd whether it was true he did not believe Jordan is the greatest ever.

“I love Michael. I’m a Michael Jordan fan, like everyone else. I just don’t think he’s the greatest player ever. I think the greatest player I ever played against was Magic Johnson. Next was Larry Bird. Then Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The hardest guy I ever had to guard? Hakeem Olajuwon”.

Salley then appeared on SportsNation later in the day and cleared up his analysis, that Magic Johnson was actually his favourite ever player but if he was being objective, the greatest player ever was Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Whilst I do not agree with that, the crux of his argument is true. Michael Jordan is not the greatest player of all time.

I do not understand how this thought policing came to effect. Like something out of Orwell’s classic 1984, anyone that challenges the throne of Michael Jordan is immediately locked away and brainwashed or slain (figuratively).

The saturation of the Jordan brand across the sports sphere, the famous Gatorade and McDonalds commercials that had such a bind on the public and perhaps his brief stint in Baseball may have may have been a catalyst, but really, how does all this equate to the atmosphere we find ourselves in?

For those that grew up whilst he was in his prime, I can understand. For Bulls fans, I can understand. Even North Carolina fans are given something of an immunity, but for the people too young to have seen him, the people old enough to have a better perspective and everyone in-between, I fail to comprehend why everyone bows down to ‘his airness’.

Michael Jordan’s legacy is shrouded by a couple of things. 6 Championships in 8 years is special. It’s incomparable in the modern game. He and Scottie Pippen forged one of the great duos in the history of the game. His many one liners rang throughout the league and have become a staple in sports psychology. The legendary dunk contests, the timeless images of game winners and tongue poking and his unmalleable will to win all add to the resume.

But inarguably, Jordan’s greatest achievement was something he probably never set out to do. The NBA was a dying brand. With the decline of the game’s greatest ever rivalry, Magic’s Lakers and Larry’s Celtics, there was no real direction the league was heading in. Crowds were down, ratings were low and there wasn’t a clear indication of how the NBA was going to combat the growing popularity of the MLB and the juggernaut that is the NFL. Enter Michael Jordan.

His late game heroics, his incredible feats of athleticism, the imagery I discussed above and the way he went about knocking his opponent down and stepping on their throat was not only contagious, but it became nothing less than sports pornography. The league would look considerably different than it does right now if not for Michael Jordan. Not directly because of his play, but because of what he was and what the audience depicted him as.

So perhaps to some, that makes him the greatest basketball player of all time. To me it does not. It makes him the greatest basketball figure, and that perhaps again is a product of the cultural brainwashing that surrounds the guy.

People old enough to have effectively watched basketball in the 50s, 60s and early 70s have mostly left us or at least do not have a strong voice in the current media nor fandom, but those who had the honour to watch this period will unquestionably tell you there is only one player that can claim the throne that Jordan has unofficially been ruling from over the past two decades.

He is the man I believe to be the greatest of all time.

Wilt Chamberlain.

I find it offensive that his name is too often forgotten when these debates arise. We really only see references to him when LeBron James is recording statistics that have not been achieved since the Big Dipper graced the hardwood.

Some do not even know his name, and those who do don’t know a whole lot about him.

People that make the argument that you should not compare eras are insufferable and down right hypocrites. They have no problem in doing it as long as it aids their argument, but when they feel as if they are either uneducated on a player or team, when they are losing an argument or simply want to end the conversation, they’ll sprinkle it in. Every time someone says Jordan is the greatest player of all time, you aren’t just comparing two different eras, you’re comparing the entirety of the history of the sport.

So please do not hit me with any of that.

Also, when making the argument that Wilt is the best, the majority of people return serve with ‘he played in a predominantly white league with smaller players’. Also an invalid argument. Why are you going to punish him for being the specimen he was, for having the skill set he had? It’s not his fault that the better basketball players of the time may have been smaller and less athletic than they are now. It’s not his fault a majority of the players were white, whether that is indeed a disadvantage or not.

Does anyone say Jordan dominated a period when the league was declining and that exaggerated his legacy? Does anyone say that he benefitted from the platform Magic and Larry left for him? Does anyone mention the incredible physical tools Jordan had, like his mammoth hands that allowed him to hand check opponents and move them wherever he wanted them to go? It seems that argument is only relevant when discussing, and really downgrading, what Wilt Chamberlain achieved.

In his rookie season, Wilt Chamberlain 37.6 points and 27 rebounds per game. Do not refresh the page. Those are accurate numbers. Two years later he averaged 50 points per game, along with nearly 26 rebounds. 50 points! One 50 point game per season in the modern era is a significant achievement, Chamberlain averaged that over an 80 game season. When he finally, and much to the relief of the rest of the league, retired, Chamberlain held no fewer than 43 NBA records.

He finished up with 2 NBA Championships, obviously fewer than Jordan’s 6, but this is another argument I don’t understand. Championships are won by teams, not by players. There is no one player good enough to win a Championship on his own. If anyone was to be that good it would have been Wilt Chamberlain. Jordan hadn’t even won a playoff series until the Bulls drafted Pippen.

I don’t want this to transform into a subjectively ordered list on the greatest players ever, but to me it’s indisputable who the greatest is. I wouldn’t even have Jordan as the second best player ever. There are so many names that offer comparable claim to the hierarchy of greatness.

Do not get me wrong, I am not in any way trying to insult nor lessen Jordan’s achievements or ability. He is certainly one of the greatest we have seen. You don’t win 6 Championships without being so.

But he simply isn’t the best. He didn’t have the all round game that both Magic Johnson and Larry Bird had. As good a scorer he was, he trembles in comparison to Wilt. He was a very poor three point shooter and before winning titles, he was labelled as being extremely selfish. As dominant as he may have been, he didn’t impose his will like Hakeem Olajuwon or Shaquille O’Neal. As great as his career was, it doesn’t quite measure up numerically with that of Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s.

Hell, I think Kobe Bryant is more talented than Michael Jordan. Kobe is a pure artist, he is an incredible shooter, an all time great defender, a better passer and an equal to many of Jordan’s legendary intangibles. Jordan didn’t do as many things as Kobe Bryant does.

The most recent and perhaps most relevant comparison is between him and LeBron James. LeBron James will go down as the most talented player of all time. I mean that in the instance that his skill set is greater than anyone’s in history. He dominates the offensive end with his scoring, his incredible vision and passing, his ability to get to the rim and draw fouls, and command of the offense. His growing impact on defense may be the greatest feature of his legacy. There has been no one that played it quite like James. No player before him has been able to guard an opposition’s point guard in the same possession as he would battle with their center. He could go down as the greatest defender of all time.

James certainly is more talented than Jordan, but obviously it is unfair to rank him higher at this stage in his career. James really is just beginning the defining era of his career, eerily around the same age Jordan took over.

I write this not to incite anger and lead a hate mongering of Michael Jordan. The man is a hero to everyone, including me. Growing up I remember seeing a documentary on Michael Jordan that subconsciously lives with me to this very day. I remember seeing Jordan poking his tongue out as he focused, as he contemplated. For whatever reason that was, it stuck with me. It wasn’t until earlier this year that someone pointed out to me that I did it every time I was intently concentrating on something. It then occurred to me it was because of him.

But there is nothing more frustrating to me in sports commentary than a lack of perspective. I despise it when people conform to a consensus without thinking for themselves. I understand personal bias will always creep in, but if we don’t set in to formulate our own opinions, then what is the point in debating at all?

I am not expecting this to have changed many people’s minds, if any, but all I want to do is encourage people to refrain from the seemingly voluntary brainwashing of this Jordan cult.

If I can save just one person, I know I’ll be making a difference.


Tags: Kobe Bryant Larry Bird Lebron James Magic Johnson Michael Jordan Wilt Chamberlain

  • tbd

    .All around player he is not? He is a top 10 all time man to man defender. Magic an Larry weren’t. Kobe’s whole game is a carbon copy of jordan. Wilt was a dominant f orce. He also was a monstrosity of a man. Wes Unseld was 6’7″ and played center back then. Your feelings and opinions may be correct but your reasons need some work. You should take this article down.

    • jac

      Good stuff, tbd.

    • Sam McPhee

      Show me where I said he isn’t a good all round player. Show me my exact words. Kobe’s game is Jordan 2.0, he added things to what Jordan did. And there’s that invalid argument about comparing his height to other people, maybe pay a little closer attention to what I wrote. If my feelings and opinions are correct why would I take it down?

      • JD Christianson

        “So to save both your and my time, I want to make one thing clear before you smother me in fist shaking and pitchfork waving;

        I don’t care.”

        Obviously you do.

    • Todd

      We’re supposed to take away from Wilt just because he was tall? So maybe we should deduct points from him for being faster than Jordan too. That’s right, he ran track in college and was one of the fastest NBA players ever.

  • jac

    LeBron has arguably better overall skills than Michael Jordan had. But entering his 9th season, LeBron has yet to demonstrate that he has the sheer will to dominate, not just his play, and not just his teammates play, but the entire game, game after game, despite illness and injury, that Michael Jordan demonstrated from his 7th year on. LeBron can’t hold a candle to MIchael Jordan’s mental toughness and sheer will-power on the court.

    • Thexder

      LeBron is an incredible talent. Don’t get me wrong but to say that LeBron overall skill is better than MJ is ridiculous. LeBron is much bigger and he forces himself in to drive the ball with his size. Skill???? Air Jordan. i think you guys need to go back and watch some of the things he did because you have forgotten who MJ really was and what he did.Despite the highest vertical leap MJ had than LeBron, he was faster, a great defender,Probably the greatest defender ever and he played in an era that people used to fight like cats and dogs on the court. LeBron, Kobe and these guys there will not have been as good as they are now back then with the old rules. MJ used to get a beating every game and he still managed to do all that he did.I love LeBron , Kobe but they are not nearly as close as MJ. Kobe probably top 10 of all time and LeBron with his one ring now and after 8 seasons top 20.

      • Sam McPhee

        Jordan is not faster than LeBron. LeBron James may be the greatest athlete America has ever seen in terms of the power, the speed, the agility, the strength, the jumping ability. Jordan was a once in a lifetime athlete but James is better.

        Jordan was probably more skilled at the things he could do, but James had a bigger armoury of weapons. Their passing ability isn’t even comparable.

        Sure Kobe and LeBron would have had to adapt to different styles, although if you’re going to tell me someone was going to push around LeBron James then I’d disagree because I’m not sure there is any human being in the world that can, but you’re ignoring what I said about that hand checking rule, Jordan was able push the opposition around the court so instead of forcing a player left, he’d literally push them there. That makes it a lot easier. Imagine LeBron with the hand check rule, that’d be unfair. Jordan was a master of those little flaws in the rules, that famous shot over Russell he pushes him off for a little bit more distance and you see opponents interviewed and they’d all say he’d hold their wrist while they shot or dribbled and tug on their shorts and shirt, it was a different time and that aspect made it a lot easier.

    • Sam McPhee

      has there ever been a player in history with more pressure on them than what LeBron had in that game 6 in Boston? and what did he do? That mental toughness argument is such crap man, how does anyone have any idea who is tougher than who, there’s no way to measure it. No one has been through the off field turmoil LeBron has and he continues to push through it and won a championship, I’d say that’s about as tough as it gets. Just because he doesn’t have that Jordan swagger doesn’t mean he’s less tough.

  • Idontgetit

    This article is a joke. Nobody is blaming Wilt for playing in an era with less talent it’s a fact. So he would average 50 and 25 against the bigs of the 90′s or today. These guys aren’t 6′ 5. Zero chance. If you can’t shoot unless you are right under the goal and you can’t shoot free throws that’s called a liability. ie 2 championships compared to 6. Tell me where Jordan was a liability. He could shoot, defend, pass, finish, and is clutch all while playing against better talent and athleticism. There are people out there, writers especially that want and need to go against the grain. This is an example.

    • Sam McPhee

      Yes there are writers that do that, I have no interest in doing that for the sake of it, but is it not my job to encourage debate and stress individual thinking? If you’re happy being ignorant and holding your hand up every time someone challenges YOUR opinion then do that, but I admire those who think for themselves as opposed to those say whatever is popular.

      He wasn’t a good shooter so you’re wrong there. From three point range he was woeful. He may have been a good passer but he was selfish and we never really saw him do it. Clutch doesn’t exist. He was playing against better talent and athleticism then? Ok you’ve lost my interest now, that’s outrageous.

      • GDO

        Yeah…..Michael Jordan hit SIX three-pointers in game 2 of the NBA Finals against Portland because he WASN’T a good shooter……dude….you reply to everyone because you hate the fact that you are TERRIBLY wrong……MJ is the greatest of all-time and no one is even in the same league….Bird and Magic defensively were terrible and LeBron in the clutch throughout much of his career in the biggest games has been terrible….look at the facts……but what separates LeBron from NEVER being in the top five is his choice to have to join D Wade in Miami……he realized he couldn’t carry a franchise like MJ and so he took the easy way out…….he’s a ridiculous talent but his choke job against Dallas was comical and something we NEVER saw from MJ…….this article is really sad….

        • GDO

          I just noticed that you are 20 years old….so I will forgive you… never even saw the Jordan era yet you somehow feel you can write about it…….I love when people who actually never saw Bird, Magic, MJ, Kareem, etc…..want to ACT like an expert…..I don’t think you realize how much of an embarrassment this article is…

          • Sam McPhee

            I’ve never every single playoff game he played after acquiring Pippen. You condescend me like that you can leave my blog, I don’t have any time for that.

            I find it comical you talk down at me for being young when you say he’s a good shooter because he hit shots in 1 game. Ok so on your theory LeBron is the greatest clutch player ever because he hit that shot against Orlando. Ever heard of the term ‘sample size’? You’re going to tell me he’s a good shooter because he hit 6 in a game, is LeBron a good three point shooter? Because he hit 8 in a game once. Jordan hit 32% of his threes for his career and he took less than 2000. Do you know why he took so few? Because he couldn’t shoot them.

            Sample size.

            Also clutch isn’t a real thing OK. So if you’re using that in an argument to say why someone is better than someone else, you’re losing that argument 100 times out of 100. And if you looked at numbers, LeBron’s figures in the fourth quarters are very good. He led the league in fourth quarter scoring 3 years in a row. You choose to remember one bad series, but if you actually watched the Dallas Finals, you’d know it wasn’t the fact he was missing them, it was the fact he wasn’t taking them, for whatever reason that may be.

            For his career, Kobe Bryant shoots 25% in the final 2 minutes of games. That is a fact. But is he clutch?

            So if you’re going to preach numbers at me, then maybe provide some of your own. If you’re going to condescend someone who knows more about basketball than you do, that’s your prerogative.

          • Sam McPhee

            Oh and the crap you spewed about LeBron not carrying a team was the most ignorant thing you said just then, which is saying a lot.

            Jordan didn’t win a PLAYOFF SERIES until they drafted Pippen. A PLAYOFF SERIES. LeBron got to the Finals with the worst Finals team of all time. His best teammate ever before he joined Dwyane Wade was Larry Hughes. He won 60+ games twice with Mo Williams as the no.2 option. Jordan played with multiple All Stars, defensive players of the year, all time three point shooters, so you are absolutely kidding yourself if you think LeBron couldn’t carry a team and Jordan could. He took utter filth to the Finals and had the NBA’s best record two years in a row.

            You say I’m too young to know what I’m talking about, if you have seen all the basketball you make out to have seen, then I’d be worried about your ability to take content in.

          • whiskey_river1

            Good journalists don’t feel the need to argumentatively defend their work. It’s embarrassing and immature.

          • Nicki

            I thought he said that he did not care what people were going to say after reading the article, but he is real defensive lol

  • white mamba

    This guy is obviously bitter for some reason. There is one thing that sets Jordan away from those other guys. Jordan Never Lost a Championship. He knew how to win when the time came. All those other guys he mentioned lost championships.

    • Sam McPhee

      that’s such an invalid argument, he knew how to win when the time came, oh ok so he knew how to win but didn’t think it was time when he was getting his arse kicked by Detroit all those years? did he only learn how to win when he got to the Finals? I’m not sure what you’re supposing that I am bitter about but that’s also invalid and irrelevant.

      • JD Christianson

        “So to save both your and my time, I want to make one thing clear before you smother me in fist shaking and pitchfork waving;

        I don’t care.

        Obviously you do.

  • kisswriters

    I’ve been saying this for years
    … MJ’s handle was adequate, at best … his creativity was unmatched in the
    air but off the dribble, he doesn’t compare to a Kobe, Isiah, or Maravich …
    Give me Larry or Magic—not sure which of those two I’d pick first, and I’m a
    Magic fan—ahead of Jordan … and my personal bias creeps in here: Make
    no mistake about it, Jordan WAS a selfish player and judging by his
    post-playing days, he appears to be a selfish person … no thank you, I have
    never aspired to be like Mike

    • Sam McPhee

      well done for being one of the few that resisted the Jordan cult. I can’t have Magic no.1 because defensively he was average at best and it’s a two way game, but he is very special.

  • Person

    Ok Sam. Disregard everyone that comments except this. This is not a hate to anything in your article. But simply facts. Yes, Wilt Chamberlain did have insane stats. But you better not, & I mean, you better not, even compare Wilt to any of the greats we have had. Wilt was definitely a forefather for the game. But please. Do not ever say he’s one of the greatest of all time. I personally, could have my team in HS smash the players that played in that day. They were horrendous. & I mean horrendous. Wilt had height & semi athleticism, with pretty good fundamentals, so he ruined everyone. But don’t you dare think that if we put, say, Russel Westbrook, if his time period, Russel wouldn’t go off for 50+ points a game. Players back then are far from what we have now, in every facet of the game. When they show the games from back then on NBATV I want to puke because the basketball is just terrible. So please, for everyone’s sake, don’t compare Wilt to the greats of Jordan, Bird, & Magic.

    • Sam McPhee

      but you’re doing what I told you isn’t fair, no one else at the time was hitting 50 and 25 a game, he played in that era and he dominated his era unlike anyone has ever before, you can’t blame him because the game and the athletes that play it have progressed, it’s called evolution, it’s the same reason we will one day see a man faster than Bolt.

      How would Magic go in this day and age guarding the Westbrooks and Roses and Pauls? He’d get his arse handed to him because he wasn’t a good defender and the NBA had never seen this new brand of point guards before. Jordan may have struggled in today’s game because the rules have changed and you get away with a lot less now.

      Bill Russell won 11 championships as the cornerstone center for that team. He was what, 6’8? He’d get annihilated in today’s game, but that doesn’t matter, if you dominate your era like these guys did then what else can you want? Human evolution and even training regiments and body preparation as improved exponentially so obviously they’re much better athletes now even as opposed to a decade or 2 ago, but you cannot handicap someone like Wilt who owned his time unlike anyone else has owned theirs in the history of American professional sport because he mightn’t be as effective now.

    • Kevin

      Wilt deserves to be mentioned as an all time great. Wilt was the dominant force in his time. Every other player in Wilts time had an more average skill set. If you compare it to current NBA players it will bad. Advances in medicine and science have improved the health and development of players so today we are bigger, faster and stronger than 50 years ago. It like saying Lebron isn’t good, everyone else just sucks. You have players that are simply better then everyone else around them. They show up and change an era. Wilt, Russel, Kareem, Magic, Bird, Jordan, all of these players dominated the league in their respective times. You can’t compare their stats to one another because each one helped change the future of the game into what it is currently.

  • Kareemalcindor

    You are correct sir, certain people reserve a place in time ALWAYS! Jordan is one as is Bird,as is Magic, and yes the hated Isaiah. But the top five of the N.B.A will always be Wilt, Russel, West, Big O, and Greg Kite, long will they reign!

  • Garratt

    Magic and Larry had better overall skills than MJ? Are you serious? Magic and Larry didn’t play great defense like MJ, or track down lose balls with relentless passion and athleticism. Sure, you could say Jordan wasn’t a great passer, but he got better in the latter half of his career there. Kobe sure isn’t a great passer and is selfish as well. he couldn’t co-exist with Shaq or he would even have more titles than he has. You talk about Jordan’s supporting cast like that is the be all and end all over individual stats. Wait, what about Kobe’s supporting cast? The Lakers have surrounded him with stars throughout his career. The big payroll Lakers have helped Kobe’s success a ton. How many titles would Kobe have if he played his entire career with Sacramento, the Clippers, Charlotte, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Golden State, Denver, Orlando minus Shaq, and Washington (entire career)?

    It’s no coincidence that Boston, L.A. Lakers, Chicago, and even Houston have been the dominant teams with titles the last 30 years. Where there is money and good management, there are titles.

    The Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers have done great for small markets (winning despite that) but have no titles to show for it. What about the great players like Reggie Miller, Stockton, Malone, and Barkley who never won titles? They didn’t have the same opportunities. Lebron James never won a title in Cleveland, and people think he is the in the best player argument. Once he goes to Miami with other stars, all of a sudden he is king.

    So I van see your argument for stats and accomplishments outside of titles, but MJ’s skills were the greatest all around. Yes he couldn’t handle the rock like Kobe, but he finished at the rim better. I know Kobe is great there as well, but I give MJ the edge. Although I think defenses were better at protecting the rim better in Kobe’s era. Going way back to Chamberlain, defenses did nothing to defend the rim. Chamberlain was a man among boys.

    The players of yesteryear are hard to compare to now. Yeah, they were great in their era, but come on. Do you really think Chamberlain would put up 50% of his numbers now. I don’t think Wes Unseld, Rick Barry, or Willis Reed would even be all stars today.

    One star from the past that you did leave out though, who I think could have an argument for the best player ever is Oscar Robertson.

    Okay I have been all over the map here. Some points support your arguments, and some don’t. I just don’t think the greatest ever argument is a simple one at all. And I think it is unnecesary. Can’t we just appreciate all the greats without needing to worship them?

  • Whiny McSmartypants

    First, Jordan’s bb IQ is not nearly as high as Magic’s and Larry’s. Those guys, as rookies, turned their teams into contenders. It took Jordan 6 years to learn how to win in the NBA. Second, Jordan and Pippen are joined at the hip. We know Jordan could create highlights. Dominique Wilkins could do that, too. But win? Jordan didn’t make everyone around better. When he went to play baseball, the falloff on the Bulls wasn’t much. Without Scottie we wouldn’t be talking about Michael.

  • “That Guy”

    Not trying to bust any balls here or refute any argument but giving the title “Greatest of all Time” can really only be labelled under opinion. No matter what argument someone makes, there is always going to be someone who doesn’t agree or has a different view. Yes Michael was great, so was Wilt, as is Kobe and LeBron, but the fact is you can rattle off all the statistics, character flaws and abilities all you want, someone will have a counter argument. Unless of course like McPhee states, brainwashing ensues and one person infuses thoughts and reasoning into everyone’s mind causing a global thought equilibrium. Just sayin’. lol HOLLA!!

    • surlyjohn

      Pound for pound? Charles Barkley. The guy wasn’t even 6’5 and he led the league in rebounds one year, and offensive rebounds in 3… and averaged 20+ ppg as a power forward for his career. And he was shorter than Jordan. And what about Tim Duncan. The most complete player in the post-Jordan era by far. He deserves to be in the Kobe/LeBron conversations at least. Neither of them have proven they can do MORE for their teams than Duncan. Not to disparage Kobe and LeBron, but Duncan needs to be in that conversation.

      • surlyjohn

        Oh, and Wilt was the greatest. Like the author said. Nobody else came close to his numbers in his day. He hit 100 with no threes and everyone on the other team knowing they had to stop him. So does that mean he is the only talented player in the league then? Hardly. He had to play against Bill Russell and Nate Thurmond among others. You also had Bob Cousy, Bob Pettit, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson (who averaged a tripled double in one season) and plenty of other greats. This was also an era where black players had to overcome a lot. Jordan was never spat on and disrespected in the NCAA tournament like Wilt was. Anyway, I think Wilt Dominates today too. Nobody played with his strength. You look at him and think he would throw Dwight Howard or even Shaq around like a rag-doll. Might have a tough time guarding Kareem, Olajuwan, Ewing or Robinson because he never saw bigs like that, but I think he could handle them. He would be as unstoppable in any generation as he was back then. As for Jordan, I don’t care what anyone else says. You give Clyde Drexler Scottie Pippen, and Phil Jackson/Tex Winter as his coaches, and he becomes Michael Jordan.

        • Sam McPhee

          Nailed it

    • Sam McPhee

      you are right, it’s all subjective in reality, but for whatever reason if you say that or offer an alternative everyone freaks out and calls you a hater. that and ESPN and everyone preach Jordan, I can’t think of any other way to describe it than brainwashing

  • Kevin

    I am shocked that Salley didn’t even mention Bill Russel. If you want to talk about one of the greatest players of all time you MUST mention Bill Russel. No one had more intangibles that led their team to victory than Russel. He was arguably the best defender of his time. His offensive stats were not as strong as Wilt but he still had career averages of 15.1 ppg, 22.5 rpg, and 4.3 apg. Defensive stats weren’t even tracked when Russel played or there would be a staggering number of blocks. Russel had one of the more complete games and that is why he helped lead the Celtics to an unprecedented 11 championships in 13 seasons.

  • Jake

    In reading this article and comments from a week+ ago, there is one thing that definitely true.

    And that is, Sam McPhee, that YOU CARE A LOT about what others believe. So don’t be making that statement again.

    Thoughts. No one has posted in a while, but I will anyway. You probably won’t respond to this and that’s fine.

    I don’t care lol

    First, Chamberlain’s rebounds were incredilbe. No point in arguing that.

    You bring up the early ppgs that Wilt had (they were amazing) but you fail to bring up that he and Jordan both finished their careers at 30.1. And that includes the two Wizard years. This is because Jordan’s scoring remained high for his entire (Bulls) career, while Wilt’s started to decline mid-career. This would be an important point to bring up in talking about their scoring, but somehow you fail to mention it.

    You also fail to compare their scoring in the playoffs, which would seem to be important since they faced the best competition. Again, Jordan stayed consistently great in this area while Wilt headed downhill mid-career. Jordan finished his career at 33.4 ppg while Wilt came in at 22.5.

    You bring up Jordan’s 3-point shooting, but fail to mention his free throw shooting. Jordan finished his career with .835 in the regular season and .828 in the playoffs. While WIlt came in at .511 in the regular season and .465 in the playoffs. In one stretch of 3 years in the playoffs, he shot below 40%. This is a HUGE argument against Wilt being the best player ever. He couldn’t be counted on to make free throws. That is crucial in winning close playoff games. Yet you never bring it up.

    You like to bring up that Jordan didn’t win a series until Pippen came along. But let’s look at the opponents for some context in those 3 years. The Bulls lost to a Bucks team his rookie year that had won 59 games, and then a 3 HOFer Celtics team the next 2 years. Bird said he was “God disguised as Michael Jordan.” That sounds quite different than your simple dismissal.

    Chamberlain did set many records in his day, but you just conveniently left off too many important categories. If it were so indisputable, you wouldn’t have needed to avoid them.

    • Lionsam

      Thank u Jake. U articulated everything I had in mind, with stats to solidify ur argument. Mr Mc Phee is way too young to fully appreciate the impact Michael has had on this game. He wanna use stats as the basis of his argument, without realizing that those very stats validate Jordan as the G.O.A.T. When HOFers like Bird, Magic, Lenny Wilkens, Bill Russell et al has annointed Jordan as the greatest ever, why is there even an argument?. John Salley should be grateful that the Bulls gave him a shot and a title to end his career because he was’nt even an average NBA player at best. It is obvious that he has an ax to grind and making such a statement obviously gave him some airtime which he would’nt have normally got because he has become irrelevant after his career ended. Thanks again Jake, ure on point. Keep up the good work.

    • JD Christianson

      “And that is, Sam McPhee, that YOU CARE A LOT about what others believe. So don’t be making that statement again.”
      “That is my take as well. Sam needs to take this lie out of opening statement:”

      So to save both your and my time, I want to make one thing clear before you smother me in fist shaking and pitchfork waving; I don’t care.”
      He obviously cares, otherwise he wouldn’t keep responding to folks that disagree.

  • Jake

    I’ve heard about Wilt’s free throw shooting affected playoff games, but the reality is far worse than I thought.

    Is Wilt better than Jordan? Just pretend Jordan had these results in his career. Or Lebron. Or anyone. Wilt’s teams probably wouldn’t have gotten as far without him, but they couldn’t count on him in the most important games.

    His 50+ ppg season, his 100 point game and other records are incredible, but his playoff results are simply tragic.

    This is a list of the clinching playoff games in each year of Wilt’s career. His free throws are listed first.

    1959-60 10-16 lost 119-117 to Boston in Game 6…little did he know that this would be one of his better nights at the line

    1960-61 7-14 lost 106-103 to Syracuse in Game 3 of a sweep
    1961-62 Made 8 of…box score doesn’t say…gave Wilt a break I suppose…lost 109-107 to Boston in Game 7
    1962-63 team missed playoffs
    1963-64 6-9 lost 106-99 to Boston in Game 5…yay a loss not affected by his free throw %, Game 4 was…
    1964-65 6-13 lost 100-99 to Boston in Game 7…ouch
    1965-66 8-25!! lost 120-112 to Boston in Game 5…Hack-a-Wilt…when I saw 8 point difference I didn’t think his ft shooting could be a factor…but Wilt pulled it off
    1966-67 8-16 WON 125-122 against San Fran in Game 6…YAY!!
    1967-68 6-15 lost 100-96 to Boston in Game 7
    1968-69 4-13 lost 108-106 to Boston in Game 7
    1969-70 1-11 lost 113-99 to the Knicks in Game 7…the Willis Reed game
    1970-71 3-9 lost 116-98 to Milwaukee in Game 5
    1971-72 4-9 WON 114-100 against Knicks…yippee!!
    1972-73 5-14 lost 102-93 to Knicks in Game 5 to end career

  • jimmy

    put Oscar Robertson or Bill Russell as Michael Jordan opponent.,then they will eat and chew Jordan easily.
    remember that nobody write tripple double a season just like Big O”

    theres a truth.,Jordan have 6 rings.,Havlicek have more 8;Bill Russel 11 even Robert Horry have 7
    Jordan have 5 MVP.,Kareem have 6.,WIlt 4
    jordan have 10 scoring titlle and no rebounding title
    Wilt C have 7 scoring titles and 11 rebounding title
    Wilt have 1 assist tittle and JOrdan none
    nobody would ever reach that rebounding title and scoring in one game or a season.

    so The Greats should be Bill Russell, Kareem A.Jabbar.,Earvin Magic J. Michael Jordan.,Oscar Robertson.,John Havlicek.,Kobe Bryant.,Shaquille ONeal, Hakeem Olajuwon.,Tim DUncan.,

    The Greatest should be Wilt Chamberlain…,
    50 points average for 80 games.,
    100 points in a game.,(only KobeBryant get near with 81)
    rule of NBA be changed just because of him.

    both their total and average points so close..,for all time (Wilt and Michael)
    but look at rebounding ..,even the Great Bill RUssell and Kareem A.J. can’t come close in total or average.

    what is that mean?
    meant that WIlt Norman Chamberlain dominate.,for offensive and defensive.

  • Todd

    I agree that Wilt is the best. Many point out Jordan’s stats until you bring up Wilt. Then they cry about championships, but don’t like you pointing out Bill Russell had even more championships and dominated for a longer time. Jordan was a great player and the best marketed athlete in history, but he’s not the best.

  • JD Christianson

    A member of the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys, dissing on MJ. Say it ain’t so.

  • KJC

    I don’t know who was the greatest, but it sure ain’t Wilt. He was a liability to his team when championships were on the line. All those regular season records mean squat when he can’t handle the ball in close title games.

  • Kevin Collins

    This was written a while ago, but I happened to read “Dream Team” recently, about the 92 Olympic bunch. It’s interesting that it was published this year (and the documentary came out too) and MJ states that he told the committee that wouldn’t play if Salley’s buddy (or maybe he owes him money) Isiah had. Now all of a sudden (after he had stated publicly that MJ was the GOAT), Salley says that Isiah is the best player he ever played with. Crazy coincidence? I don’t think so.

    Salley now also says that Jordan was “just another player” on the Olympic team. “There was Clyde Drexler…” Clyde Drexler? Why did he pick that name? Well, Clyde whines about how he was just as good as Jordan in the book and doesn’t get the credit. This seems an odd connection, but why else would he pick Drexler? Because as of the summer of ’92, MJ had won the last 2 regular season MVPs and last 2 Finals MVPs. Clyde hadn’t. That would seem to separate them by a lot in terms of bestiosity. Does Salley go fishing with Clyde and Isiah on a regular basis?
    And of course the fact that Salley throws in that “he (Isiah) should have been on Dream Team 1″ shows where all this is coming from.