In a great interview for HoopsHype, former NBA player Brendan Haywood talked about his experience playing with LeBron James and Michael Jordan. While playing for the Washington Wizards, Haywood had the opportunity to see firsthand what made Jordan special and how competitive he was, even with the Wizards after winning everything possible in the NBA. In his last season, he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers, in which he played with LeBron and got an excellent understanding of what made LeBron one of the best players in NBA history.
When it comes to the never-ending GOAT debates, Haywood said he had that conversation with LeBron. He even admitted he considers Jordan the GOAT over any player in NBA history. His resume is impeccable. When it comes to winning, especially in the NBA finals, that is the best argument that goes in Jordan’s favor against almost any player that belongs in the GOAT discussions.
One of the more interesting things is that I had the GOAT conversation with LeBron. We were on the plane, and I told him: “I love you, brother, but I have to go with Mike.” I told him my reasons. I’ve had this conversation with him face-to-face. Six rings. Six MVPs. The guy has had two different three-peats and has never been to a Game 7. He was MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. I played with both of them, and what LeBron has slowly but surely turned into from a confidence standpoint, MJ was that the first time he walked in the league. LeBron has gotten so much better at that. He has grown into a guy that close out games. Michael always had that ability. Michael always competed defensively.Brendan Haywood, via HoopsHype
Haywood witnessed Jordan in the late stage of his career, while on the other hand, he played with prime LeBron, who led the Cavaliers to their first finals appearance ever since he left the team. Their main similarity lies in their sheer competitiveness; however, they are both really different players in how they play the game and the type of mentality they have when approaching teammates and the opposing teams.
Both of those guys are incredible competitors. They do things differently. The biggest difference is that MJ is a cold-blooded killer. He is an assassin. LeBron is more respected and loved. He is loved by his teammates, and he is respected by his opponents. So when we had the GOAT debate, LeBron was just kind of nodding his head. He didn’t really say much. Mike Miller and James Jones said some things on his behalf. I don’t think LeBron agreed with me. But at that point, he hadn’t beaten Golden State. He didn’t have the ring he just got with the Lakers.Brendan Haywood, via HoopsHype
The GOAT debates always depend on various personal preferences people have for individual players and their achievements. Every side has their specific arguments on why one player is better and more accomplished than the other, and they usually try to fit that within a narrative they are pushing. It would be more productive if people could agree on what made each player special rather than bash out at each other for the difference in opinions in a somewhat pointless debate.