Every NBA fan has their personal preferences regarding the list of best players in the league history. On most of them, Michael Jordan is included, and rightfully so, while other players get occasionally mentioned. In a recent interview for Basketball News on the James Posey podcast, former NBA player Charles Oakley shared his thoughts on this never-ending debate.
Oakley being the former teammate of Jordan during his Bulls days, it’s no surprise he put Mike on the list. There are also other three names he mentioned on his Mount Rushmore of best players in NBA history.
It’s MJ, Kareem, LeBron, and Wilt. You gotta have one of the centers in there.Charles Oakley, via BasketballNews
Surprisingly, Oakley says Bill Russell is not even a top 10 player in NBA history despite winning the most. The argument here is that to be on Oakley’s list; a player needs to impact both ends of the floor. In Russell’s case, his impact was predominantly on defense, and he played with numerous HOF players in his career.
For Oakley, LeBron is up there with Mike when it comes to being the GOAT, even if he never won a championship ring. His consistency and ability to make it to the finals almost every year with every team he is part of is the main reason for Oakley’s respect for LeBron.
They say Bill Russell, but he averaged 18 points, and they say he is the GOAT because he has 11 rings. If LeBron never won a ring, he would still be in my top three. That is how much he meant to the players and the game. Every night, every year, every team he went to, he made them better. We need to stop with how many rings players got. Bill Russell got 11, and he is nowhere near the top 10 best players.
When it comes to player comparisons, Magic and LeBron are very similar, and people see a lot of Magic in LeBron except that he is bigger and stronger. On the other hand, Bryant is always compared to Jordan, and rightfully so. In Oakley’s opinion, Mike is better than Bryant, and LeBron is better than Magic which explains why two of them are on his list.
LeBron is better than Magic, and Mike was better than Kobe. And Kobe is better than Magic.Charles Oakley, via BasketballNews
Whether you agree with Oakley or not, his opinion makes sense and has a logic based on his personal preference regarding the players he thinks are the best. You can always include different arguments on why some other players are perhaps more deserving to be on this list, but it’s interesting to hear what former players think of this never-ending debate.