I know people have different ideas of who the greatest player of all time is. And I've seen in discussions on here lately how some people feel Kobe or Wade should be ranked among the all-time greats, but it seems that for most people Jordan is the clear-cut number one. I admit that, being a Detroit fan from back in the day, I hated Jordan, but I always recognized his greatness. That said, I don't think Jordan is the clear-cut greatest player of all time. I think there were players in his own generation that were as good and perhaps better than him, though I have come to appreciate what he did throughout his career (I mean, that season where he averages 32 points, 8 assists AND 8 rebounds a game to go along with almost 3 steals while shooting 53% from the floor! CRAZY!!! Will never be matched again I think).
So that said, who do you think is better than Jordan, and why? And if you do have Jordan ranks as the greatest of all time, what is the one player you think is in the conversation with Jordan? And while we are on the topic, which season do you think was Jordan's best?
For me, Bird and Magic were obvious picks because they both had such great all-around games. They were both better playmakers than Jordan, and both and both shot at a higher percentage than Jordan. Jordan's one-on-one defence was better than both, and he was likely the best pure scorer, but Bird was the better shooter.
As for his era specifically, because I think Bird and Magic were both of their own era (the 80's), the guys who I thought competed on the same level as Jordan were; Barkley, Malone, Hakeem, Robinson and Stockton. I put a lot of value into rebounding the ball, so Barkley, Malone, Hakeek and Robinson all ranks high with because of that, but they were also all great scorers who shot at a higher percentage than Jordan, though Jordon is the best pure scorer of the lot, and though Jordan was the better play maker than any of them, they were each very good player makers for their respective positions, Barkley perhaps the best of the lot. Jordon though, I think is is fair to say, aged better than all of them save Malone. Hakeem and Robinson were both great defenders as well, amazing shot-blocks and they both got a lot of steals. As for Stockton, well, he, like Jordan, was a guard, and so having a high FG% was a little harder for him (you expect post players to have high FG%s than guards), but Stockton's FG% and 3pt% were both higher than Jordan, and Stockton is the greatest play maker in the history of the game. Stockton played that part of the game better than anybody before him, and better than anybody since. His one-on-one defense was not as good as Jordan, and though Stockton was the better shooter, Jordan was the more versatile scorer, but Stockton's team-defense (he was a great help defender, even as a rookie) and ability to pass the guarding lanes warrants some great appreciation. Stockton aged very well as well, which before him was very rare for a PG (one need look not further than Isiah Thomas who was considered in his prime to be one of the best PG in the history of the game and by 32 was no longer performing at an All-Star level and was perhaps the biggest reason why Detroit fell off the map so quickly after being swept by the Bulls in 1991, despite having a relatively young core group of players).
As for the generation since Jordan, Duncan, Garnett, Shaq and LBJ are the guys I would put in the conversation as playing at Jordan's level. I wouldn't say any of the above mentioned players are better than Jordan, but I think they all played on the same level as Jordan during their primes.
Who you got?