Ron Harper has perspective. He was on the Bulls during their heyday for three titles. He was on the Lakers for the first two titles of the Kobe/Shaq era. Through it all he was like a coach on the floor.
And he told FanHouse Jordan remains the best, but don’t think the gap is very wide.
“I tell people that they are two great, great players, and Michael remains the best of all time, but Kobe now is right there next to him. He’s standing right next to him. He’s the closest thing we’ve ever had to Jordan. There is no one else even in the ballpark,” Harper told FanHouse Tuesday from his home in New Jersey. “Kobe is hands down the best player in the game today.”
“Michael still gets the edge because of when he played, and who he played against, but don’t take anything away from Kobe,” Harper said. “Michael played when the rules allowed all the grabbing, holding and bumping that isn’t allowed now on the perimeter. He also played against [Clyde] Drexler, [Joe] Dumars and guys like that every night. But after saying that, Kobe still would have been a star in that time.”
Harper goes on to make an interesting note about team play — the Bulls had it, the Lakers have it now. That is not just the triangle and Phil Jackson, it is a management buying into the system, it is players being willing to accept roles to win.
Look at the teams in the finals this year — the Lakers and Celtics played more like a unit than any others. They had continuity of players and system. Management went and got players to fit the system, and once in the culture players outside it bend to its will. You see the same thing in Phoenix right now. Orlando has a system. It’s not a coincidence they are the four left standing at the end.
This is not a slap at modern players — there were plenty of teams and guys out for themselves in the 70s, 80s and beyond. The point is that teams win.
Of course, it really helps when Kobe or MJ are on those teams.
Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.
This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.
The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.
Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.
Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.
Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”
You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.
Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.
The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.
And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:
Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.
That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.
Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.
ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.
After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:
- Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
- Westbrook: “Nah.”
- Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
- Westbrook: “What exchange?”
- Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
- Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”
This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.
That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.
I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.