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 based on their experience. One of the rare ones that attest to that is definitely one of the best perimeter defenders ever to play the game, "The Glove," Gary Payton.
LeBron is a better all-around player
Even though he was far from the biggest or strongest player on the court, Payton found a way to 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 never-ending GOAT Debate, compared Jordan to LeBron James, and shared who he thinks is the better player while being interviewed 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 played against both LeBron and MJ
Payton faced both Jordan and LeBron during his career, and he certainly knows what he is talking about when discussing this topic. Even though we are discussing 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 aspect, LeBron in another; their comparisons are endless. But, in the end, it is a debate that will constantly stir up a conversation, especially between the die-hard fans of these two legendary players. LeBron's career is still playing, looking dominant, and chasing more championships despite having a disappointing season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Payton gave a great lesson to both sides of an argument - which you pick is mostly a matter of taste and personal preference, and we should always make sure to respect both guys and their greatness.