In NBA circles, the biggest debate among fans and pundits alike may just be the “greatest of all time” (GOAT) question — specifically, if Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James or Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. On Sunday, one of the greatest players of the current generation — Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant — seemingly made his own stance known, saying that Jordan would still be the best player in the game if he were playing.
Durant made the claim on his YouTube channel during a chat with former Bull and current ESPN hoops analyst Jay Williams in anticipation of The Last Dance docu-series. Directed by Jason Hehir and produced by Michael Tollin, the 10-part mini-series documents Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls team that beat the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals to complete a second three-peat of NBA championships. The legendary team was subsequently dismantled, Jordan retired for a second time, and the Bulls have largely struggled ever since.
The first two episodes of the series aired over the weekend and the James or Jordan debate has escalated on Twitter, as well as in the media. The Sporting News has summarized the statistical case for each player, but the debate goes beyond the numbers and into the intangible. Regarding Jordan’s fit in the NBA as it exists now, Durant cited the Hall of Famer’s adaptivity and skill level as reasons why he would be successful, despite the radical differences in how the NBA game is played and officiated today.
“He can adapt his game to anything. He would fit in as the best player in the league. That’s what he would be. He would have more possessions to do more things. More space for MJ to go to work. We’ll never know, but for sure he’s a masterful basketball player, and like we’ve been saying his skill level is unmatched.”
Before issuing his hot take about Jordan, Durant made headlines last month when he revealed to The Athletic‘s Shams Charania — who tweeted the news — that he was one of four Nets players to have tested positive for COVID-19. The NBA — and all major league sports — has been shutdown to stem the spread of the disease. That hasn’t stopped Durant’s plans to follow Jordan’s footsteps as a multi-time champion, however. He and star point guard Kyrie Irving reportedly intend to turn the Nets into the league’s next super team.