The Basketball G.O.A.T. Debate: Who Takes The Crown?

The Basketball G.O.A.T. Debate: Who Takes The Crown?

The Greatest Of All Time (or GOAT) debate has been around for a long time. In football, you have greats like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Montana, and Dan Marino, who have all been a part of this conversation. In baseball, you have Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Derek Jeter, and many more. In basketball, it is the same story, with greats like Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Bill Russell, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and many more. So, the question of today is, who deserves the title of the basketball GOAT?

First, let’s look at the major stats for basketball. These include championships, championship MVPs (or Finals MVP), regular season MVPs, all-star selections, points scored, and other stats. Starting with championships, the great Bill Russell takes the cake, having won 11 titles during his playing career. Next, looking at Finals MVPs, Michael Jordan comes in at the top, having won 6 Finals MVPs. The regular season MVP crown goes to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who tallied up 6. Next, all-star selections are currently tied between Lebron and Kareem (LeBron is still playing so we can assume he will take the crown.) Lastly, when looking at points scored, we give the trophy to LeBron James, who has scored nearly 40,000 points in his long career.

All of those stats are great for telling fans statistically who was the best player ever, but many still harbor their own opinions. To investigate this, I asked three SNU students who they thought the greatest player in basketball history was, and they all said the same thing: Michael Jordan (MJ). SNU student, Karson Coleman, thinks MJ is the GOAT because “he was the most athletic and the best finisher ever.” Mason Moore thinks MJ takes the crown because “he elevates his team to a new level. MJ could have been on a team with a bunch of other greats and still would have stuck out; that’s how great he was.” Christian Reed also said that MJ was the GOAT, stating, “he has more Final wins than LeBron (who he is always being compared to). Also, when people think of basketball, they think of MJ, not just LeBron or anyone else. MJ was a logo man: He brought people to the sport.”

The GOAT debate still has a lot of what-ifs that get thrown out a lot. What if Jordan had never retired? What if Lebron retired earlier? What if both of them switched eras? Would Jordan still be as dominant in this era? Would LeBron dominate a league known for its harsh defense? These are just some of the things that fans debate about. These conversations will go on for a very long time, probably as long as basketball exists. One thing you should remember before stepping into one of these conversations is that at the end of the day, it’s all based on opinions. Lead these conversations with respect and focus on what you have in common: love for basketball.


Photo by Dezmond Williams