When it comes to guarding Michael Jordan and experiencing how “His Airness” dominated the game first-hand, only a select few can speak about MJ in detail and give a realistic perspective on the topic. But one of the rare that can is most definitely one of the best perimeter defenders ever to play the game, “The Glove,” Gary Payton.
Even though he was far from the biggest or strongest player on the court, GP found a way the dominate the defensive side of the floor with his toughness, quick reflexes, and great IQ for the game. Those skills made him a nightmare for many opposing players, as even Jordan had his problems with Payton, contributing to them being fierce rivals on the court. Gary Payton weighed in on the GOAT Debate, compared Jordan as opposed to LeBron and shared who he thinks is the better player while doing an interview with Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson.
“Two different basketball players. Jordan was a guy who he was going to make big shots. He’s going to take the ball every time and shoot it every time he has to. I think LeBron is an all-around basketball player…If you ask me who is a better all-around basketball player, LeBron James by far. He does everything. He passes the ball better than Jordan, he can dribble it a little bit better than Jordan… shooting wise, I don’t think so, rebounding I think he did but Jordan did rebound.”Gary Payton via Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson
Payton faced both MJ and LeBron during his career, and he certainly knows what he is talking about. Even though we are talking about arguably the two best players ever, it is still hard to draw the line and say one is better than the other. When you look at championships, numbers, and impact, Jordan wins. But when you watch them play and see everything LeBron does on an elite level, it is hard not to think he’s simply a more complete player.
Jordan is better in one segment, LeBron in another; their comparisons are endless. In the end, it is a debate that will always stir up a conversation, especially between the die-hard fans of these two greats. Payton gave a great lesson to both sides of an argument – who you pick is mostly a matter of taste, and we should always make sure to respect both guys and their greatness.