Rivers’ evaluation of Michael is pretty standard — he was a fierce competitor on both ends of the floor, setting standards no other player in NBA history was able to reach. He also lauded Jordan’s consistency and ability to keep the same drive for as long as he did. That’s what made him stand out then, and it still keeps him a level above everyone else.
Michael was ruthless. Kobe approached his competitiveness, other than that; I’ve never seen anyone more competitive. I remember his rookie year, my second year; after the game, my first thought was, ‘no way he can play that hard all season.’ Ten years later, he was still playing the same way. I was amazed at how much he gave on the defensive end and the offensive end and his energy level.Doc Rivers, All The Smoke
When it comes to LeBron, Doc emphasized his longevity as his strongest argument for the GOAT. He’s still the best player in the world even in year 18 and is making a strong case for the oldest regular-season MVP at age 36. Numbers-wise, LeBron’s resume is unprecedented, but it’s still not enough for Doc to put him above Michael.
For me, Michael’s the greatest player ever, but LeBron’s gonna have the greatest career ever. And what he’s doing right now is incredible.Doc Rivers, All The Smoke
This is as unique of an argument as it gets. Having the greatest career ever should imply being labeled as the greatest of all time. But for Doc, those are two separate things. LeBron’s case for the greatest of all time is based on numbers. Michael’s is based on pure basketball ability and the eye test.
Let’s not get it twisted; it’s not like Jordan isn’t right there with James stats-wise. In fact, many of his per-game averages, both traditional and advanced, still exceed James’s. But when it comes to looking at what both of them were able to do on the basketball court, in terms of skill, there’s no doubt in Doc’s mind — Michael Jordan is still the greatest player the NBA has ever seen.