Earlier this week, Micheal Jordan made waves for something that we have all been arguing and prognasticating about for years since his second retirement. The media, fans, non-fans, kids, friends, enemies and the like argued Grant Hill. They argued Vince Carter. They Argued Tracy McGrady. Dwyane Wade. Lebron James. On and on. But Micheal kept quiet on the comparisons, mostly because Micheal knows he's the best and doesn't need to, and because he is too competitive still to give anyone a chance to come close to his greatness. Yet, with his distance from who he was growing, a part of him felt that it was time to give HIS idea of his "Air" Apparent. And out it came. Kobe Bryant. Right there, it didn't end, but the consensus definitely was swayed and questions, ideas and doubts were quenched.
But, luckily for us fans and debaters, there is more than one NBA great to compare and contrast our current lot of players to until our faces turn blue.
Arguably, one is the greatest pure shooter, one is the greatest pure interior defender, one may be the greatest of all time, including Mike. But we'll leave that to debate of course.
I chose only players in the league Currently, that still start for their respective teams and/or are a major part of their teams scheme and ability to contend. To add to the fun, I broke it down into three categories:
Skills: A player that may not have the disposition or the numbers, but have the same talents and abilities as the great their compared to.
Stats: A player that has similar but not exact skill level and the numbers to boot.
Match:This player, may not be a perfect fit, but they match talent, ability, close on numbers and have a familar characteristic set to the NBA Great they are paired with.
Championships and MVP's are out, as those are more a product of the team than the individual.
With that said, lets get to the comparisons. And please when your done, reading, don't be afraid to disagree and comment harshly.
Larry Bird is one of the best if not the best forwards of his era and of all time. He had a sweet J, could penetrate, dish it out and and play the glass. He was a big man but shot a big free throw percentage. He wasn't afraid to guard and play D and definitely felt the disrespect when guarded by another white player. No disrespect, but those were his words. He knew he was better than you, loved to carve you up, and filled up the box score every night. His motor seemed infinite, jumper too tall to block at his position and length troublesome for those he guarded, which he used to negate the speed game. Who's close?
Measurables? Check. Elbow placement and scoring efficiency? Check. Does he want to see you wince every time one of his jumpers hits the bottom of the net? Double-Check. And his motor will let him enjoy every swish all game long. Like Bird, rather than his height be a hinderance to his ability to shoot it is a true advantage, allowing him to see the basket better and increase his percentager of getting off a clean shot, hence the efficiency. But, the length that he has to use in order to hinder his opponent on the defensive end really isn't used properly by the third year guard, and he has a ways to go to catch up to Mr. Bird. Add to that a court vision that is lacking and his want to share the rock is a work in progress.
Just like Larry, it would be a shame for the white player to try to challenge this German sharpshooter. And like the stats, say, he can fill up the box score just like him too. Other than a 3 assist disadvantage, Dirk puts in the same points, rebounds and percentages as the Hoosier, from the 3, in the circle an add the stripe. Measurables are there too but he won't ever be confused for a defensive player or a floor runner.
Go ahead, say it. Grant Hill? THAT Grant Hill for the Suns? Yes and no. Don't forget that when Grant Hill was make commercials and living the life as the next Jordan, he was the league premier player, behind Jordan. Sweet shot, could get to the hole, distribute at a point guard rate all while playing at 6-8 at the small forward position. He had the clutch tendencies, the all time motor, the great defense thanks to Coach K, and was a great teammate just like Larry. Had he had better heatlh and a team like Larry's, Grant might be challenging Kobe for MJ's honor.