Though the Los Angeles Lakers may not be in game action, there is plenty of buzz surrounding the team to go around.
For starters, the team is awaiting the possible return of the 2019-20 NBA season—and its practice facility was reopened over the weekend. This is a positive sign that LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Co. will be able to resume their chase for a championship. As fans are well aware, the season was suspended with Los Angeles holding a Western Conference-best 49-14 record.
If James is able to capture his fourth title and do it with his third franchise, it would cement his spot as one of the greatest players in league history. According to Chicago Bulls governor Jerry Reinsdorf, however, James has zero chance of ever becoming the G.O.A.T.
"Anytime anybody wants to talk to me about comparing Michael to LeBron, I'm going to tell them to please don't waste my time," Reinsdorf said, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. " ... I'm truly tired of people trying to compare LeBron to Michael when it's not even close. They should try to compare LeBron with Oscar Robertson or Magic Johnson. Michael was so head and shoulders over everybody, and that really came out in this documentary."
Reinsdorf, of course, is referring to ESPN's The Last Dance documentary that has captured the attention of sports fans over the past several weeks.
The series, approved by Jordan himself, did indeed paint Michael in a mostly positive light. For fans who grew up watching him play, it was a reminder of Jordan's greatness. For those too young to have seen him compete firsthand, the documentary provided some insight into his competitive edge.
And, yes, Jordan and James are two very different players in terms of skill set and mentality. However, it does not mean that James cannot at least be in the conversation as basketball's greatest player. For many fans—including Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans—it's a matter of personal taste.
Will James ever be 6-0 in NBA Finals? No. If winning titles is the deciding factor of who is history's greatest, though, then perhaps Jordan shouldn't be in the conversation with Bill Russell and Sam Jones.
The Jordan versus James debate is a fun one, and also one that is impossible to decide. They are different players of different eras, and their greatness deserves to be recognized independently of one another.
Are Lakers Fans at Fault for Doc Rivers' Tampering Charges?
If the Lakers aren't able to make it to the NBA Finals, the cross-town Clippers could be the reason. The Clippers, who acquired Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the offseason, appear to be the Lakers' biggest threat in the West.
According to Clippers coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers-Lakers rivalry is about far more than bragging rights this season.
"I look at it like, they're in our way," Rivers said, per The Athletic's David Aldridge. "I don't look at it as the Battle of L.A., because we don't get a trophy if we beat the Lakers. We need to go through the Lakers to get to the trophy."
While Rivers sees the Lakers as an obstacle to a championship, that doesn't mean there won't be a little something personal involved in a potential playoff series between the two teams. According to Rivers, the Lakers are indirectly responsible for the $50,000 fine that the Clippers received for tampering with Leonard.
The fined was handed out after Rivers publically compared Leonard to Jordan. According to Rivers, the fine wouldn't have been handed out if not for pressure from Lakers fans.
"You only got fined, and this is my opinion, due to the public pressure of Lakers fans," Rivers said on his son Austin Rivers' Go Off podcast (h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll). "Because they wanted Kawhi Leonard so bad, and I think their fanbase annoyingly controls so much of the media, to the point where that became a thing."
While the Lakers may control more of the media spotlight than the Clippers, it's a stretch to suggest that their fans control the media. Though it may have been unintentional, Rivers violated the league's policy on tampering, as did Steve Kerr before him.
Kerr had the following to say on the topic, according to Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area:
"I got fined when I was the GM of Phoenix for making a joke on 'The Dan Patrick Show,' I think he asked me if we were interested in LeBron when LeBron was a free agent back whenever it was that he went to Miami. I said if he's willing to take minimum, we would take him. Dan laughed. And I wrote a $10,000 check the next day. So, I learned my lesson. I don't comment about any other players."
Had Rivers simply waited to praise Leonard until free agency, he'd have avoided a fine.