Video: Knicks' RJ Barrett Weighs in on Michael Jordan-LeBron James GOAT Debate

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2020

FILE - At left, in a July 30, 2018, file photo, LeBron James speaks at a news conference after the opening ceremony for the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio. At right, in a Feb. 12, 2019, file photo, Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan speaks to the media about hosting the NBA All-Star basketball game during a news conference in Charlotte, N.C. LeBron James is finally going to pass Michael Jordan. In scoring, at least. While the debate will rage forever about which player is better, James will soon have scored more points than Jordan. James is 211 points shy of passing Jordan (32,292) for the No. 4 spot in NBA history. (AP Photo/File)
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New York Knicks shooting guard RJ Barrett said The Last Dance documentary about the 1990s Chicago Bulls helped him reach the conclusion Michael Jordan is the "best player ever."

Barrett explained Monday during an appearance on ESPN's SportsCenter that he learned a lot of things about MJ that elevated the former Bulls star above LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, players he watched growing up:

"I guess I didn't really understand Jordan fully. I think I have a better picture now. He had to go up against the Bad Boys [Detroit Pistons] and they had Jordan Rules. He had to go completely change his body and do many different things. I'm not taking anything away from Kobe or LeBron, but he kinda changed the NBA in a way too. Jordan's the best player ever, so we're all trying to get there, trying to surpass him."

Barrett, who was born in 2000, said he always leaned toward James in the GOAT debate before The Last Dance gave him more information about Jordan.

"From what I'm seeing right now from Jordan, it's tough to say otherwise," he said when asked whether MJ is the greatest NBA player in history.

Here's a look at his complete comments from SportsCenter (GOAT talk begins around 1:30 mark):

The Last Dance, a 10-part series that concluded Sunday night, provided a new generation of players with a closer look at Jordan's greatness. It showcased the Bulls legend's rise from a standout prospect at North Carolina to not only the best basketball player of his generation, but also a global icon.

For players like Barrett, who weren't around during the six-time NBA champion's years in Chicago, it gave them an opportunity to see both the on-court success and the off-court pressure he faced.

In that regard, the documentary has been important for reinforcing Jordan's legacy at a time when all of the NBA's arrivals are starting to come from the Kobe-LeBron era rather than the '90s.

Another aspect for Barrett, the third overall pick of the 2019 draft, was getting to see the Knicks' impact in New York City while they were among the league's championship contenders. His task is trying to help get the franchise back to that level in the coming years.