– 6-time NBA champion
– 6-time NBA Finals MVP
– 5-time MVP
– 10-time NBA scoring champion
– 30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG
Above all, Jordan was regarded as a fierce competitor who refused to back down or lose. But even with everything that MJ has going for him in the greatest player department, there are some other players who could lay claim to this prestigious billing too. Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant are some of the first names that come up in this debate.
Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant recently cast his vote for which of these players he thinks is the best. Durant, who’s definitely our favorite for this year’s MVP award, told Los Angeles Daily Times reporter Mark Medina why he tabs the Black Mamba as the best in a recent interview. Here’s one excerpt from the conversation:
Of course. He’s the greatest of all time. His skill is second to none. Him and [Michael Jordan] are neck and neck as far as skill. You can put in athleticism and be the best passer and strongest and quickest. But it’s about skill. I think that’s how his game is played. That’s why Kobe is the top two best ever in just having skill, footwork, shooting the three, shooting the pull up, posting up, dunking on guys and ball handling. It’s flat out skill. Him and Jordan are 1 and 1A. They’re neck and neck as far as the skills are concerned.”
Kobe plays his game no matter what with his intensity and focus and he will play to win. He also will do what he needs to do to get ready to play. If he sees a mismatch, he’ll take it down low and demand the ball. He’s one of those guys who will always bring the same intensity every time no matter who’s on the court.
In another answer, Durant said that he and Bryant have a mutual respect for each other’s games, though there’s a lot of on-court trash talking going on. “We’re going to talk (junk) to each other,” he told Medina. “I think he appreciates that’s how I play. I may be wrong. But I can sense when a guy has that mutual respect. I don’t give a damn who he is. He don’t give a damn who I am. We’re going to go at it. You can throw the names out the door. The guy in front of me, I will try to kick his (butt). He’ll do the same with me.”
Durant obviously looks to Bryant as something of a mentor too since he rehashed calling Bryant at 3 am during the Olympics one night. Stating that Kobe’s a night owl, Durant said he was “picking his (Bryant’s) brain a little bit” about how he should handle certain situations and his teammates during games.
Bryant is definitely a good guy to talk to about anything that’s basketball-related. The 35-year-old has won 5 NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards and two scoring titles. He also boasts career stats of 25.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 4.8 APG. Comparing these numbers to Jordan’s, it’s a little hard to give Kobe the nod as the NBA’s all-time greatest player. But he’s done enough to win Durant’s vote and respect as well.
Speaking of Durant again, if he continues at the current rate, we may one day be throwing his name into the best all-time player debate. After six years in the league, the 25-year-old is really beginning to take flight, averaging 31.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG and 5.6 APG. Durant looks like the front-runner to win the 2014 MVP award, especially since his Thunder are 48-17 and looking like a serious title contender.
Getting through a crowded Western Conference playoffs bracket won’t be any picnic. But if Durant can guide his team to a championship, he’ll move a lot closer to cementing his legacy as one of the NBA’s greatest players.