A blend of current superstars and all-time greats made the list, including Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Kobe and LeBron. And Jordan thinks he has each and every one of them beat—except for Kobe.
“I don’t think I would lose,” Jordan said in the video. “Other than to Kobe Bryant because he steals all of my moves.”
Talk about your backhanded compliments. And complete and utter truths.
When watching Kobe, you often see a spitting image of Jordan. Their offensive games are eerily similar in makeup, sometimes right down to the number of dribbles they would take before a particular shot.
Kobe's recent response tried to put the NBA life cycle into perspective for 'ol MJ:
Recognizing Kobe as a worthy adversary attests to Jordan's respect of the Black Mamba. It's also a not-so-subtle way of MJ saying his moves are so effective that not even he himself can defend them. Or that he relishes at looking in a mirror.
Or is fond of the unknown, like Rick Pitino suggests below:
But this is also about LeBron, and Jordan snubbing him. Again.
Asked by NBA TV's Ahmad Rashad last season about which of the two, Kobe or LeBron, had the better career, Jordan rolled with Kobe.
"And not that he won't get five," Jordan told Rashad of LeBron at the time, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman. "He may get more than that, but five is bigger than one."
LeBron has since won a second ring, but five is still bigger than two.
Yet this isn't Jordan's version of a malicious slight. The Chosen One wasn't alone in falling behind Kobe in Jordan's hypothetical world of one-on-one matchups; there were other great players Jordan's ego thumped.
The King himself didn't take exception to the comments. Instead he took the "Oh, he said that? Cool." route, also known as the higher road.
Personally, I'd roll with LeBron over Jordan in any one-on-one contest. Kobe might be a tough cover for MJ, but LeBron is bigger and stronger than both the Mamba and Jordan.
LeBron's also now clad with the motivation that comes with Jordan continuing to favor Kobe over himself. In his never-ending quest to become the greatest player ever, a galvanized LeBron scares me.
Five remains more than two, though, so what do I know?