In basketball, a couple of never-ending debates will likely go unresolved.
One is the GOAT conversation (Jordan vs. LeBron) which we aren’t going to get into now. The other is the argument over eras. More specifically, this ongoing topic features the current era of NBA stars against those of the 1990s, commonly referred to as the Michael Jordan era.
Former NBA point guard Jason “White Chocolate” Williams has jumped into the fray, commenting on Jordan and how he’d fare in the current era.
“It was easy for him to get to the bucket against [Gary Payton] as it would be against Jrue Holiday today with Giannis and Brook Lopez sitting back there… He’s not scoring as easy today as he did back then.”
Williams hasn’t been shy about expressing his love of LeBron James’ game and has even chosen The King as his basketball GOAT. Jason made the case on his platform, “The Jason Williams Show.”
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Williams said: “I’m picking LeBron. Bro, I mean, I’m never going to change... I’m not a big stat guy. I mean, I think it matters a little bit, but I just look at you as a player.
“I think LeBron could do more as a basketball player, like handle the ball, pass the ball, you know, just stuff like that... But that’s not to say Jordan couldn’t do some things better than LeBron could do. I just think LeBron could do more things better.”
Of course, he’s entitled to his opinion, and the greatest of all-time argument is what it is. You aren’t changing most people’s minds on who they think the GOAT is. There’s still a generation of fans who you can’t convince Kareem Abdul-Jabbar isn’t the greatest to ever do it. If the conversation is about overall hoops career, including professional, college, and high school, then yes, it’s probably Kareem.
But Williams’ comment about Jordan being unable to score as “easily” today is nonsensical. He comes off like someone that hasn’t watched the NBA recently, which obviously isn’t the situation. Even if Jordan wouldn’t be the best scorer today, there’s no way MJ would struggle to get buckets today versus his era.
Defenders are at such a disadvantage today and can’t touch the ball handler. In light of Jordan’s 13 seasons with the Chicago Bulls, he averaged more than 30 ppg. The man won 10 scoring titles during the time when it was legal to clothesline a player in mid-air. Williams knows that era, or at least should.
Jason even disrespected Gary Payton’s name as if ‘The Glove’ was some defensive liability. It’s always funny how the current era feels so comfortable going at old-school legends since they know they’ll never have to answer for their slander on the court. It’s like how so many people talk about Charles Barkley as if he was a top-five player of his era.
Going this hard at Jordan is an entirely different level. Barkley was great, but even he’d admit he wasn’t Mike. Williams brings up Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is a phenomenal defender, but great big men were also defending the basket in Jordan’s day. Williams played against, or with, some of them: Hakeem Olajuwon, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo (who Jordan posterized), and David Robinson.
So, let’s stop all this crazy talk, because that’s all it is. I understand Jason has a show and needs to say something, but after these comments, say less. As spread out as the court is today with everybody and their mama shooting from 25 feet, Jordan would average 40 points easily. The lane was completely clogged in the 90s, and Jason knows this. Today Jordan would be in the painted area anytime he wanted. Them’s the facts. He did it in the 80s and 90s when that proved dangerous to one’s health.
And can we stop with this narrative about the best scorers of all time? Anytime Kevin Durant, James Harden, or somebody else goes nuclear and scores 50 points, some talking head calls them the greatest scoring threat The Association has ever seen. Not true.
Durant is great and probably averaged 28 ppg out of the womb but c’mon. Honestly, that usually feels like a slight toward the older generation/Jordan’s era. And I was never a Jordan fan growing up, but the truth is the truth.
Durant got swept in the first round of the playoffs in Year 14. That doesn’t mean KD isn’t a great scorer and one of the best, but he’s not on top of the mountain. That’s just silly. KD is a top-five all-time scorer and likely in the top three, but he isn’t the greatest scoring threat in league history.
With Williams, I can’t wait to see how he follows this up. Will he double-down or back off what he’s said? I don’t see him backing down because he never has, and there is something to be said about that. When former players say things so out of pocket, they always get a reaction. But it’s rarely the one they want.