A 2009 interview with Michael Jordan on the NBA's "Greatest of All-Time" resurfaced.
LeBron James said he felt he became the "greatest player of all-time" after overcoming a 3–1 series deficit to beat the Godlen State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. Last week, he made the comments in a clip from his ESPN+ series, saying, "That one right there made me the greatest player of all time."
This announcement added fuel to the fire in the debate between Michael Jordan and James for the title of 'greatest of all time.' Jordan has teased the debate in the past, but has not made any recent comment on it.
A 2009 interview with ESPN's Michael Wilbon has resurfaced on the internet through clips on Reddit and social media. In the video, Jordan briefly commented on his status or place in the conversation for 'the greatest of all time.' He decided not to bestow the title on himself out of respect for the players that came before him.
"If you ask me, I would never say that I am the greatest player," Jordan said. "That's because I never played against all the people that represented the league prior to Michael Jordan."
Jordan played in the NBA for 15 years with the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards. He finished his career with 32,292 points, which is the fourth-most of all-time. He won five NBA MVP awards and six championships with the Chicago Bulls.
James is in his 16th season in the NBA. He has 31,966 career points and ranks fifth all-time. He has won three championships and three NBA Finals MVP titles. He was named league MVP in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013.
Here's a brief transcription of the interview:
Wilbon: "If you care about being called the greatest basketball player ever, does that matter, do you want that?
Jordan: "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. 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."