Channing Frye’s take on Michael Jordan is off-base, but LeBron James as GOAT is understandable

Cleveland Cavaliers big man Channing Frye and Cleveland forward LeBron James high-five. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers big man Channing Frye and Cleveland forward LeBron James high-five. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

On a recent podcast appearance, former Cleveland Cavaliers big Channing Fry gave his take on Michael Jordan and the GOAT conversation, and his take was off-base. Frye having LeBron James as his GOAT, though, is understandable.

At this point, the best NBA player ever debate is alive and well, and while most have Michael Jordan as their GOAT, to me, given his skill set, frame, and ability to constantly adapt, the best player in Cleveland Cavaliers history, LeBron James is mine.

ESPN recently ranked James second overall in their top 74 NBA players of all-time rank, which is absolutely fair. I’m well-aware Jordan was six-for-six in the NBA Finals, led the league in scoring 10 times and was an incredible nine-time All NBA First-Team defensive member.

Which ever way you slice it, I have to say that Jordan was clearly unmatched in terms of his competitiveness and mindset as a winner in the era he played, as we all know, and have been able to see more about on episodes of “The Last Dance,” a documentary series being syndicated on ESPN featuring the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls of which Jordan is obviously a lead part.

Anyhow, on a recent podcast appearance, on the subject of that GOAT debate and realistically his take on Jordan, former Cavaliers rotational big Channing Frye was essentially skeptical of how Jordan’s mid-range/mid-post-prevalent skill set would fit in today’s league. He had this to say about Jordan on the Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with NBC Sports Northwest and co-host Dan Sheldon, and as was h/t Rip City Project’s Marlow Ferguson Jr., and though I understand Frye’s take a bit here, it was off-base.

"“He only had really one job. And that was to just score. And he did that at an amazing, amazing rate. But I don’t feel like his way of winning then would translate to what it is now.Guys wouldn’t want to play with him. Right? I think you have to adjust and adapt, and to say that Jordan would average 50? No, he wouldn’t. Everyone would double team him.”"

Channing would also go on to stress how Jordan’s high usage/uber ball-dominant style would be frowned upon in today’s NBA, and Frye believes it would compare to James Harden‘s, who has been criticized for his numbers/regular season-focused and lack of winning narrative. Here was more on that, as was h/t Ferguson Jr. again.

"“James Harden averaged 50 (actually 43.6 points per game) for a month and nobody cared. Like, everyone’s like ‘Oh, those are bad shots.’ But like, people like to argue without looking at the two eras respectively. Like, Jordan was the greatest of his era. He took down some of the greatest teams in the history of the game, but he could not translate into this game.”"

Jordan again led the league in scoring an unprecedented 10 times and had a career average of 30.1 points per game, and while I understand Frye’s takes there, who then would go on to say how Bill Russell should win the winning GOAT argument, if you will, Jordan definitely affected games in other ways. I also firmly believe if he were to be in today’s NBA, Jordan, given the work ethic he had, would be able to adjust his game and work tirelessly to become a viable three-point shooter.

Let’s also factor in how he dealt with hand-checking. Would MJ put up “50” per game? I’m fully with you on that being a no, Channing. Again, though, Frye’s take that Jordan was essentially just a scorer was off-base. He affected games in other ways, too.

He was arguably the best defensive two guard in NBA history that averaged an incredible 2.3 steals and even 0.8 blocks per game, per Basketball Reference. His feel on that end of the floor was extraordinary, and it often led to easy buckets for himself, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc and others going the other way.

Additionally, though he was not close to the passer LeBron, who Channing would say his GOAT is, Jordan made plays to win in that way in the postseason, just ask John Paxson and Steve Kerr, and it led to team success as MJ moved along in his career. Jordan’s ball fakes, which were helped by his massive hands, into passes were unbelievable, too, as much of this video shows.

Now again to the style of winning perspective, I see where Channing is coming from here. He played with LeBron James, and James, who empowers his teammates and has always been a terrific point forward, has been a pass-first player mostly.

More from King James Gospel

That has often elevated his teammates, and Frye, who was a really good rotational spot-up/pick-and-pop shooter for the Cavs, often benefited from that, and hit 39.2 percent of his three-pointers in his time with the Cavaliers. Channing contributed in runs to the NBA Finals, and along the way to a championship in 2016, too.

Factoring in that perspective for Channing believing he has “LeBron above Michael,” via NBC Sports Northwest, makes sense from that way, and James has made himself into a better shooter, which was not his strength, as his career has progressed.

Either way, though, while we don’t truly know if MJ’s mid-range-heavy style would translate, necessarily, he did dominate his era unlike anyone else, and the production in that way can’t be disputed. Now did Jordan nearly have the 6-foot-9, 250-pound frame LeBron James has had in his career?

No, Jordan didn’t, but he was a heck of a finisher with both hands in his own right, and did do so with authority, too.

Anyway, while I’m personally a Bron GOAT guy, with the combination of size/strength/quickness, passing ability and versatility, Channing saying that Jordan was just a scorer and his game, even with his unmatched work ethic, couldn’t translate in today’s NBA, is off-base to me.

Next. Former Cavs assistant Phil Handy emphasizes how LeBron James/the squad was so 'calm,' even down 3-1. dark

I can’t guarantee it, but it’s hard to believe that Jordan couldn’t become a good three-point shooter in today’s league, and guys not being able to hand check him would open up more driving chances, too.