NBA

Magic Johnson Chimes in on the Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James GOAT Debate With an Interesting Take

Seemingly everyone has an opinion on the ongoing GOAT debate involving Michael Jordan, who won six championships with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, and LeBron James, who just won his fourth NBA title. That includes a man who could easily be a part of that debate, legendary Lakers point guard Magic Johnson, who recently chimed in with his two cents and, as usual, had some pretty interesting things to say on the matter.

But before we get to the comments made by Magic Johnson, let’s first run through a quick “tale of the tape” on Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

The NBA career of Michael Jordan

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Michael Jordan played parts of 15 seasons in the NBA, 13 with the Chicago Bulls and two with the Washington Wizards. Here’s a quick rundown of his accomplishments.

  • 6-time NBA champion
  • 6-time NBA Finals MVP
  • 5-time NBA MVP
  • 14-time NBA All-Star
  • 3-time All-Star Game MVP
  • 11-time All-NBA selection (10 First Team, 1 Second Team)
  • 9-time All-Defensive selection (all First Team)
  • 1988 Defensive Player of the Year
  • 1985 NBA Rookie of the Year
  • 10-time NBA scoring champion
  • 32,292 career regular-season points (5th all-time)
  • 5,987 career postseason points (2nd all-time)
  • 30.1 points per game
  • 6.2 rebounds per game
  • 5.3 rebounds per game
  • 2.3 steals per game

The NBA career of LeBron James

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LeBron James has played 17 NBA seasons with three different teams (Cavaliers, Heat, Lakers) and won a title with all three. He’s one of just four players to have won an NBA title with three teams. Here’s a look at his resume.

  • 4-time NBA champion
  • 4-time NBA Finals MVP
  • 4-time NBA MVP
  • 16-time NBA All-Star
  • 3-time All-Star Game MVP
  • 16-time All-NBA selection (13 First Team, 2 Second Team, 1 Third Team)
  • 6-time All-Defensive selection (5 First Team, 1 Second Team)
  • 2004 NBA Rookie of the Year
  • 1-time NBA scoring champion
  • 34,241 career regular-season points (3rd all-time)
  • 7,491 career postseason points (1st all-time)
  • 27.1 points per game
  • 7.4 rebounds per game
  • 7.4 rebounds per game
  • 1.6 steals per game

Magic Johnson chimes in with his thoughts on the Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James GOAT debate

Michael Jordan Magic Johnson LeBron James
(L-R) Michael Jordan; Magic Johnson; LeBron James | Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images; Roy Rochlin/Getty Images; Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

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So where does Magic Johnson stand on the Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James debate? While most people stand firmly on one side or the other and likely won’t ever change their mind, Magic wants to see how things play out over the final years of LeBron’s career. Johnson is currently siding with his former Dream Team running mate but thinks that if James can add one more title, he’ll be right there with Michael Jordan. But there’s a catch. LeBron James has to win that title next year (h/t CBS Sports).

“LeBron James is well on his way. If he wins one more [championship], Michael and him are going to be right there together. If he gets that next [championship], it’s going to be hard not to say he’s right there with MJ. I said the next one, which will be five [for LeBron], because with six [for Jordan] and four [for James], it’s hard to say he’s overtaken Michael at four championships. I think once he wins [a fifth title] and repeats — the key word is repeat — that’s a good argument right there.”

Magic Johnson on the Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James debate

So in Magic Johnson’s mind, if LeBron James wins another title with the Lakers next season, he’ll equal Michael Jordan as the greatest player of all time. But it apparently has to be next season. But even taking that out of it, it’s interesting that he thinks LeBron winning a fifth title would put him alongside Jordan, who has six. Shouldn’t Magic be saying that LeBron winning a fifth title would put him right alongside himself?

Personally, I think the Jordan vs. LeBron debate is a wasted exercise for a lot of different reasons. But everyone is entitled to their own opinion on the matter, obviously including Magic Johnson. We’ll see if he feels the same if LeBron James can bring an 18th title to the Lakers next season.

All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference