I think I brought up earlier in my Phil Jackson post that I dislike when people try to compare players from different eras. However, the debate rolled on. And it started to run into another area that I dislike: when you compare players playing different positions from different eras.
Who would take? Bill Russell or Michael Jordan? Well, gun to my head, Bill Russell. But that’s a loaded question. Would I take Russell, Chamberlain, Jabbar or Shaq? Now that’s a debate.
You really want to head down this road, don’t you? Well, if you do, you need to ask yourself, what does having this player on my roster do to everyone around it? Do they have to put the team on their back to win or do they make the team play as, well, a team? I’d take the latter.
Examples? Try Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. People look at those players on those storied franchises and feel that they just picked up the legacy and ran with it. Check your history books. Both came in and extreme low-points in their respective franchises history. Both franchises would pick up significant players but both teams would not have reached the heights they did in those eras without their superstars. Could Bird or Magic take over a game? Heck yeah. However, they impacted the game in so many ways that they could lead a resounding victory with shooting 10 shots. Could Michael do that? Kobe? Lebron? Carmelo? Probably not. When those three players are not shooting well, the team suffers. Magic and Bird could beat you in so many ways that their stat lines were truly insignificant (though generally impressive).
Can the top players in the league today make that case? As Lebron James grows on both ends of the floor, he is getting there. Forget Michael vs. Lebron vs. Kobe. You need to measure the best against, in my opinion, the two most impactful players in the history of the NBA: Magic and Larry.
So, continue the debate. But until you look at The Measure, please keep me out.