Over the past few weeks, there have been a lot of comparisons drawn between LeBron James and Michael Jordan. Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas decided to chime in and add another parallel on Tuesday.
According to ESPN Chicago, the Detroit Pistons great conceded on ESPN Radio’s The Waddle and Silvy Show that James is not only the best athlete in today's NBA, but likely better in that department than Jordan ever was, saying of James, "He's bigger, he's faster, he's stronger."
While LeBron is widely regarded as a freak athlete by all who have witnessed him play in the modern era, MJ's athleticism is certainly one of his more underrated qualities.
Fans are beginning to forget just how incredible it was to see the 6’6”, 215-pound shooting guard sky through the air in his younger days, especially during the 1987 and 1988 Slam Dunk Contests.
In actual games, Jordan was able to get to the rim at will and was one of the best defenders of his era.
James may have two inches and 35 pounds on "His Airness," but it's nearly impossible to differentiate the two in terms of speed, jumping ability and physical strength in their primes. LeBron may look more athletic, but the Jordan of the late '80s and early '90s gives him a run for his money.
Though present-day NBA fans will likely side with LBJ, this is a debate with no clear answer in sight.
Speaking of an unsettled argument, Thomas respected his former nemesis enough to draw the line at athletic comparisons, admitting that a showdown between Jordan and James isn’t black-and-white when it comes to a hypothetical matchup:
When you put them out on the floor to compete against each other in different eras, it depends on which rules you're playing with and which coach you're being coached by. So there's a lot that really goes into it.
Factor in that MJ reportedly beat Charlotte Bobcats rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in a game of one-on-one, and it’s easy to see why people are reluctant to hand over the title of “Greatest of All Time” to LeBron.
The former Chicago Bulls star finished his stellar career with six NBA championships, six NBA Finals MVPs, five regular-season MVPs, 14 All-Star appearances, 10 scoring titles, a Defensive Player of the Year award and more.
Which player is more athletic?
Thus far, James has just one NBA championship and one NBA Finals MVP to his name, but he is on his way to earning a fourth regular-season MVP and should garner plenty more hardware before hanging up his sneakers.
There’s a chance that LeBron could surpass Jordan as the G.O.A.T., but it’s going to take a lot of hard work. For now, James can take pride in the fact that Thomas, an NBA legend in his own right, believes he is the superior athlete.