LeBron James and Michael Jordan are often compared in the NBA’s GOAT argument. Once again, they have been put in the same conversation, this time by former NBA player Charles Oakley.
In Wednesday’s episode of the Spotify podcast “Jalen Rose: Renaissance Man,” NBA veteran Charles Oakley attempted to answer the long-standing question of who is the greatest NBA player of all time. He avoided the usual dynamic of LeBron vs. MJ and brought in other names to sweeten his opinion.
“It’s Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes. It’s MJ and Lebron. You know, one got sugar, one got the flakes.”
Oakley digressed from the usual strict dynamic of Jordan and James, branching out to reference players like Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant.
“I’d really match LeBron up with Magic, and Kobe up with MJ.”
Oakley explained a little more about James:
“LeBron did so much longevity, you know, 18 years in the league. You know, not really no big injury or anything, and playing at a high level. Nobody never done this before. So, MJ had his time when he came to Washington in the last two years, but he didn’t play like LeBron.”
James won four NBA titles and four MVP awads is an 18-time All-Star. The Rookie of the Year in 2004, James is now in his 19th season, averaging 29.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game.
Bryant spent his entire 20-year career with the LA Lakers, winning five championships, being named an MVP once and an All-Star 19 times.
Jordan played 15 seasons, winning six championships with the Chicago Bulls. He was a five-time MVP and a 14-time All-Star.
Johnson, the father of “Showtime” basketball, was a three-time MVP and 12-time All-Star who won five championships in five seasons.
Oakley, drafted ninth overall by the Cleveland Caveliers in 1985, played for five franchises in 19 seasons. He was a teammate of Jordan’s with the Bulls and the Washington Wizards. He is 22nd all-time in career rebounds with 12,205.
Oakley revealed one of his favorite moments in Chicago with Jordan:
“He took me to the All-Star Game in my rookie year, and we just had so much fun. And that was the first time, you know … into the NBA, to be going to the All-Star Game with a guy like Michael Jordan.”
Oakley was selected on the All-Rookie first team that season (1985-86).
Charles gave a funnier and more personal story about him and Jordan on their way to the airport:
“Me and Michael used to get dropped off at airports … So one day we was going to the airport, me and him, and I was riding with him. So he could be doing 100, 150 whatever, he just got in the car and hit the gas … so we was in the car going through the airport this and that, and I said ‘MJ, look at the police!’
“So we doing about 90 already, and he hit it about 120, 150, and the car came behind us. Next thing I know, I guess they call ahead, and there was about five cops just waiting on him.”
Oakley told Jalen Rose that when MJ rolled past the officer, the police yelled:
“Where you going? Oh, wow, you’re Michael Jordan. OK, go ahead.”
The dynamic of Oakley’s argument makes sense in regards to how each player played basketball. James and Magic are much more similar than James to MJ. On the other hand, Bryant always deserves a mention in this conversation.
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So Oakley structured his opinion so each of the greatest basketball players doesn’t really place higher than the other. Each made their own legendary stamp on the game.