Phil Jackson: LeBron James has the potential to match Michael Jordan
The outspoken Charles Barkley saying that LeBron James has the potential to be better than Michael Jordan by the end of his career is one thing. On Monday, Jordan's Hall-of-Fame former coach echoed Barkley's statements.
In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN Chicago, former Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that James has "all the physical attributes" to match Jordan. He said that much of the comparison when all is said and done would depend on whether James can remain healthy for the rest of his career.
Here's what Jackson told hosts Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman, via Sports Radio Interviews:
“He’s got all the physical attributes. I think we all question the prepping that went into LeBron. His defense was shaky when he was a younger player and finding his way through that direction. He is a player that can play four positions. Except for perhaps the center spot, which he hasn’t given a shot at yet, he can play those other four positions quite well.
"This is unique; Michael could play three and was very good at all three of those, but as a power player that LeBron can become, I think he has an opportunity to explore and advance some of the status that he has already gained. Winning six championships is an elusive thing out there and they haven’t won two yet. [...]
“I have a hard time judging that best player, but I do think that Michael had more moves in the post and he had more of a, perhaps, shooting touch with his back to the basket and all these kind of things that were part of his game. LeBron has this train out of control when he gets the ball in transition that he can go coast to coast without anyone getting in his way and if they do, he’s going to over run them. And he’s got the power with the body and he’s developed a left hand that’s extremely good. There’s a lot of things that you are seeing in the development of this player that leads towards that, but the ideal and the whole reason behind this is what kind of championships are you gonna get from a player like this? Can he match what Michael has done?”
Last week, Barkley gushed about the 27-year-old James, who won his first championship with the Heat last season.
"I do think he can be better than Michael," Barkley said. "I thought I would never compare somebody to Michael Jordan. But this guy, LeBron James, he does everything well. Michael did everything well. LeBron James is just bigger, stronger, faster. That's the only difference."