When Michael Jordan said Larry Bird is better than LeBron James and “far better than any SF who played the game”

When Michael Jordan said Larry Bird is better than LeBron James and “far better than any SF who played the game”

What LeBron has done since might force MJ to reconsider his take.

The GOAT conversation often comes down to Michael Jordan and LeBron James. However, Michael himself once said that LeBron isn’t even the best ever in his position.

While listing his top five players of all-time back in 2009, MJ picked Larry Bird over the then Cleveland Cavaliers forward. “His Airness” explained why in Jackie MacMullan’s book “When the Game Was Ours.”

“People ask me all the time who my all-time five top players are,” Jordan said. “And when I start saying Larry, they interrupt me. They say, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. He can’t play with LeBron James!’ I tell them, ‘You guys don’t get it. Larry is far better than any small forward who played the game, and to be honest, I’m still not sure if he is a small forward or a power forward.'”

Larry Legend intermittently changed between the three and four during his storied Celtics career, depending on his team’s needs.

Bird was drafted as a power forward from Indiana State University. He spent his first five NBA seasons playing the four and even led the team in rebounding in his first four NBA campaigns. But because Bird was so versatile, he also played minutes at the three and was considered a ‘combo forward.’

Larry only permanently moved to small forward when Kevin McHale became so good that coach K.C. Jones had to put them together in the starting lineup. Along with Robert Parish, the three formed one of the most imposing and dominant front courts in NBA history.

Naming Larry as the greatest small forward ever wasn’t the only time MJ showed respect to the Celtics legend. Michael also defended Bird’s inclusion in the Dream Team for the 1992 Olympics after critics said he was merely a sentimental pick.

Larry wasn’t the most athletically gifted player ever. But what he lacked in physical attributes, the legendary forward made up for in grit, hard work, basketball IQ, and the uncanny ability to make shots. And when it came to winning, Bird was as good as the names people would put in front of him in the greatest of all-time debate. Even the man many people call the GOAT agrees with that.

That said, LeBron has won four NBA titles, four MVPs, and countless other individual accolades since Jordan said Bird was the better player. Even though “His Airness” tends to favor guys from his era when making head-to-head comparisons, James’ NBA run would at least force Michael to reconsider his stance

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