Barkley says LeBron “bigger, stronger, faster” than Jordan

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Move over Kobe Bryant, it’s time for the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan comparisons to start ramping up.

And at the front of it all — Charles Barkley. He is on the opening episode of NBA TV’s Open Court” (which first airs next Tuesday) and he says LeBron could be better than Jordan. From the Associated Press.

Jordan is considered by many to be the best player in NBA history. Barkley says he would never compare anyone to the Hall of Famer and six-time NBA champion. But Barkley also says that James is “just bigger, stronger, faster.”

Let’s be clear — LeBron has not lived up to the Jordan standard yet. I don’t believe Barkley thinks it, I don’t believe even LeBron thinks it. But also to be fair, if you are just talking physical gifts, Barkley is right. It’s the mental side that has separated Jordan and LeBron’s career paths.

LeBron’s season last year was about as close to a Jordanesque season as we have seen. LeBron became only the second player (with Jordan) to win a regular season MVP, NBA title, finals MVP and gold medal in the same year. LeBron averaged 21.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. LeBron’s PER of 30.7 was around the number when Jordan was at his peak in Chicago.

Last year LeBron showed a mental maturity that allowed him to really start to reach his potential. And at 27 he is just entering the prime of his career.

But to be talked about with Jordan, or even the other all-time greats, LeBron needs to keep this level of play and winning up over the next five years. He’s not Jordan yet. He really never will be.

But let the discussion begin.

Lonzo Ball finishes one-handed alley-oop on Willie Cauley-Stein (video)

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So much attention is paid to Lonzo Ball‘s father, jumper and passes. Those are the major storylines for the Lakers rookie.

But he has such a diverse skill set, and this is absolutely part of it. Ball is a savvy off-ball cutter in the halfcourt with the athleticism to get above the rim and finish alley-oops.

But finish them over 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who was tracking the play (though slightly late)? That’s an eye-opener, even in the Kings’ 113-102 win.

Marc Gasol makes 3/4-court shot just after buzzer (video)

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When Marc Gasol‘s 3/4-court attempt went through the net, it seemed to barely matter the ball left his hands just after the first-quarter buzzer. After all, the Grizzlies led the Mavericks by 15, anyway.

Turns out, Memphis really needed that basket.

Watch Knicks string together 28-0 run against Raptors

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Toronto has been the second best team in the East this young season. Not that anyone is really convinced they will be called that by the time we get to the playoffs (or even the All-Star break, or even Christmas), but for the first 16-18 games of the season their new move-the-ball offense had them at 11-5 and looking solid.

Wednesday night the Knicks dismantled the Raptors.

Especially in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 28-0 run to blow the doors off the Raptors (video above). The Knicks dominated the third 41-10, when Toronto shot just 1-of-16 from the floor.

New York is gaining confidence with each win this season, they are a fun team to watch that is starting to find an identity (now that a certain three-sided shaped one is not being forced upon them). Kristaps Porzingis is a monster, and while the Knicks overpaid the market for Tim Hardaway Jr. he has lived up to his contract this season. With rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina showing some nice defense and playmaking skills as a rookie (although he is undoubtedly still a work in progress), you can see a path to a strong future unfolding. There are real reasons for hope in New York. Someone just keep James Dolan distracted and away from the basketball operations side of the building.

Devin Booker forces OT with deep turnaround buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Bucks beat Suns (video)

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I’m not sure who benefited from Devin Booker‘s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing 3-pointer. The Suns still lost to the Bucks, 113-107. The extra five minutes featured more of the same relatively bad basketball we’d seen between Phoenix (bad) and Milwaukee (shorthanded) through 48 minutes.

But darn if this shot wasn’t really cool and clutch.