Stephen A. Smith hints he may be starting to teeter with his ranking of Michael Jordan over LeBron James: ‘Ah, s–t’

Michael Kaskey-Blomain
4 Min Read
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen A. Smith might be changing his tune when it comes to who he views as the best basketball player of all time. During a recent episode of the “Stephen A. Smith Show,” the ESPN analyst hinted to NBA legend Kevin Garnett that LeBron James’ longevity might make him reconsider having Michael Jordan ranked as the greatest ever.

The debate regarding who the better player is between James and Jordan has been raging for quite some time now, and the longer that James continues to play at an elite level, the more his case grows. James is in the midst of his 21st year in the NBA, and he’s the oldest active player in the league this season.

Despite his advanced age, James remains one of the top players in the entire league and arguably the best player on the Lakers roster. In 15 games so far this season, James is averaging 25.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.5 steals in 33.8 minutes per performance.

James has already passed Jordan in many major statistical categories, and he still appears to have a lot of gas left in the tank. He became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer last season in regular season games, and he is also the league’s all-time leading postseason scorer. James has played in more playoff games than any other player in league history, and he has played in more NBA Finals games than Jordan.

Jordan spoke on the comparisons between him and James back in 2020. He was very complimentary of the Lakers forward, but also pointed out that comparisons between the two are difficult to make since they are from different eras.

“We play in different eras,” Jordan said of the comparisons. “He’s an unbelievable player. He’s one of the best players in the world, if not the best player in the world. I know it’s a natural tendency to compare eras to eras and it’s going to continue to happen. I’m a fan of his, I love watching him play.

“As you can see, our league is starting to expand on very talented players. I think he’s made his mark, he will continue to do so. But when you start the comparisons, I think it is what it is. It’s just a stand-up measurement. I take it with a grain of salt. He’s a heck of a basketball player without a doubt.”

Jordan is notoriously competitive, so it’s not like he was going to come out and admit that James has had a superior career. Nonetheless, there’s clearly respect there, and that respect is mutual. James has said that he grew up idolizing Jordan and that he even decided to wear No. 23 earlier in his career because of the Chicago Bulls legend.

The main argument for Jordan over James is the fact that the former won six championships, while the latter has just four to his name. However, while Jordan won all six of his titles with the same franchise, James has led three different organizations to titles. He has found success with various teammates, coaches and systems, while all of Jordan’s championships came on one team, under the same coach and with the same sidekick in Scottie Pippen.

At the end of the day, both James and Jordan have unbelievable resumes, and as a result, they’ll both be remembered as absolute greats of the game. The debate about who is better is subjective, and it likely won’t end anytime soon.

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Michael has been covering the NBA since before the league vetoed Chris Paul's trade to the Lakers. Prior to writing for Lakers Daily, he covered the league for outlets including FanSided, 247 Sports and CBS Sports.