Due to some combination of the 2019-20 NBA season being on hiatus and Michael Jordan‘s recently released ‘The Last Dance’ documentary, the debate between Jordan and LeBron James for the greatest player of all time has been re-ignited.
This time, Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone shared his thoughts.
The debate between these two legendary basketball players is likely one that will never die out. No matter what is going on in the sports world, discussing the legacies of these two players is the quickest way to get a lively debate started. Opinions in this argument are split and the divide tends to be generational.
Malone said that while he can’t definitively crown one of them, he did say that he learned a lot about James in his five seasons coaching him, according to Mark Medina of USA Today:
“It’s always an ongoing argument about who is the GOAT. Michael obviously is up there and is the greatest of all time,” Malone said Tuesday in a Zoom call with reporters. “There are not many Michael Jordans out there. I coached LeBron James for five years and have a great relationship with him. LeBron did not have the same mindset or killer mentality that Michael Jordan is supposed to have had. But LeBron James is arguably the greatest of all time as well.”
Malone also said that Jordan’s killer instinct was unlike anything he has ever seen and that is what has allowed his legacy to stay so strong:
“Michael Jordan was not just a great player. He would reach into your chest and pull your heart out if he had to win a game,” Malone said. “You don’t see that really often. He had that killer mindset and brought it every single night. That’s why all of these many years later, he’s the greatest of all time.”
While Malone never says that one is better than the other, he certainly believes that James does not have the mentality that Jordan did. Historically, nobody with the exception of Kobe Bryant had the same mentality as Jordan as he was likely the first to have that true killer instinct.
Whether this makes him the greatest of all time or not is difficult to say, but Malone is correct in one way. That mentality is probably the reason Jordan’s still so prominent in the conversation today — even 22 years after his last championship.