NBA Players Voted For Michael Jordan Over LeBron James As The GOAT

The NBA GOAT debate has evolved a lot over the decades but one man has dominated the conversation for years now: Bulls star Michael Jordan. In the latest player poll from HoopsHype, Jordan was still the top vote-getter over any other star with 49% of the vote compared to LeBron James (37%) and Kobe Bryant (9%).

The NBA GOAT conversation will never reach a consensus and LeBron James has closed the gap much more than most thought he would. But even after 20+ years in the NBA, the players aren’t yet convinced that he’s the greatest layer ever and this latest player poll reflects that fact. After winning The Athletic’s player poll last week, the results for this one weren’t too surprising but it still revealed some interesting information on how today’s players, both domestic and abroad, engage with the GOAT debate.

“For me, it’s Jordan because I wasn’t born at the time, but I started watching the NBA because of Jordan,” said Brazilian Warriors rookie Gui Santos HoopsHype. “The music and highlights from him from ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ (Space Jam). I was watching that… because of the way he changed the game, the Olympics in 1992, he brought the NBA to the rest of the world.”

While other legends like Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Bill Russell did get a mention by some of the players, only Bryant, James, and Jordan received at least 9% of the vote. While the American players were mostly split between James and Jordan, the poll reveals that Jordan has significantly more support among international players. The same trend was also seen among older players, as the poll revealed a heavy bias for Michael among players born before 1995. Interestingly, players who earned a higher salary voted much more frequently for Michael and it suggests that the NBA’s highest-level stars have a bigger appreciation for Jordan and his iconic celebrity status.

Perhaps the most damning evidence of all against LeBron’s GOAT case is the voting from his former teammates. Of the players who once shared the court with the King, only half of them voted for him as the GOAT in his poll and it’s a tough blow for his argument over Michael.

Will LeBron James Ever Catch Michael Jordan?

No matter your opinions on LeBron, his place as one of the All-Time greats cannot be questioned, given everything he’s done. Over a career spanning two decades, he’s a 20x All-Star, 19x All-NBA, 4x MVP, 4x champion, and 6x All-Defensive player. Through stints with the Cavaliers, Heat, and Lakers, he’s posting averages of 27.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game on 54% shooting. He’s also the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, with a total of 40,474 points scored in his career.

At this point, it’s safe to say that LeBron James is the only other player with a realistic case for the GOAT and he’s the first player since Kobe Bryant to challenge Michael Jordan’s status as the best of all time. Ultimately, as stacked as LeBron’s resume is, it’s still not enough to give him the edge in most people’s minds. As a 6x champion, 5x MVP, 10x scoring leader, 14x All-Star, and 11x All-NBA player, Michael’s accomplishments are matched by no one and it’s part of the reason why his legacy has gone unscathed after over two decades of retirement.

For LeBron to close the gap now, and surpass the Bulls legend for good, it will take nothing short of another championship with the Lakers. Being down 3-1 to the Denver Nuggets makes it unlikely that he’ll make it far this year but he still has time to build his GOAT case.

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