As fans, we idolize and mythologize the era we grew up watching. That could be Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, or Michael Jordan, or LeBron James. The era we fell in love with the game, and the biggest stars of that era, hold a special place in our hearts.
With players, it’s the best guys they go against who get that same idolization.
Enter Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, the two-time champion of the 1990s. He appeared on CNBC and was asked about the current Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) debate (hat tip Basketball News). Of course, he went with his era.
“When people start comparing him with Jordan, then that’s not a fair comparison. Jordan was a far more superior player in a very tough league, and he was very creative. That’s not taking away anything from LeBron because he is a great player, but it is not a fair comparison because Jordan is a far superior player.”
This is a debate — and it should be. The fun of discussing the GOAT (and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would like to throw his hat in that ring) is that there is no right answer. This is not a simple math problem with only one solution. The GOAT debate has context, who someone played with and against, the style of play, even what a player did off the court can factor in for some people.
We know where Olajuwon stands in the debate, he’s sticking up for his era. It doesn’t make other opinions any less valid.