NBA legend Michael Jordan has made it clear that he does not want the GOAT title, although many would argue - and have been arguing for several years - that he is, in fact, the greatest player of all time.
The GOAT debate has taken some momentum over the last few days, with LeBron James proclaiming himself as the greatest ever. But Jordan took a humble stance on the matter, explaining that referring to himself as the greatest NBA player of all time would be disrespecting the stars who shaped the league, whom he also never got to play against.
On Wednesday, a 2009 video interview of Michael Wilbourne asking Jordan if he considered himself the "greatest basketball player ever" surfaced. You could see his reaction below.
Michael Jordan on the 🐐 tag. pic.twitter.com/dAGfxRcX4Z— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) January 2, 2019
"I don't want it in a sense because I think it disrespects Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West - you know all the guys that prior to me I never had a chance to play against," Jordan said.
"What everybody is saying I am, I never had the chance to compete against other legends that was prior to me. When I hear it, I cringe a little bit because it's a little bit embarrassing because no one knows. I never had the chance to, once again, to play against those guys.
"I would love to have played against them but I never did. And for you to say that I'm better than him ... I mean it's your opinion; it's their opinion. I accept that as their opinion. If you ask me, I would never say that I am the greatest player. That's because I never played against all the people that represented the league prior to Michael Jordan."
LeBron, meanwhile, had no issue with claiming the title.
"That one right there made me the greatest player of all time," the Los Angeles Lakers star said last week, citing his 2016 championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers. "That’s what I felt. I was super, super ecstatic to win one for Cleveland because of the 52-year drought...That was, like, one of the only times in my career I felt like 'Oh (expletive), you did something special.'"
What This Means
Jordan has a reputation for being egotistical, yet he didn't dare name himself the greatest out of respect for the legends who came before him. James, on the other hand, seems the humbler athlete and did exactly the opposite.
His feat in 2016 does command respect. But does it make him the greatest of all time? Certainly not. A ring or two with the Lakers, though, would surely leave him with a real argument.