It’s a question that’s been asked by many and it’s a debate that will likely carry on. When it comes to the best player in NBA history, is it Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, or someone else? They played in different eras with different styles of play so it can be tough to make a concrete argument. Former NBA point guard Jason Williams played against all three of them. On Thursday, he gave his opinion on who’s the NBA’s GOAT.
Jason Williams’ NBA career
Jason Williams was one of the flashiest and most exciting point guards to ever play in the NBA. He was an assist machine and many of his passes were of the highlight variety. Williams came into the league in 1998 when he was selected by the Sacramento Kings with the seventh overall pick. He played his college basketball at Marshall and Florida.
Williams, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound point guard known as ‘White Chocolate,’ spent 12 seasons in the NBA. He played the first three years in Sacramento and made a name for himself as one of the top point guards in the game. In his rookie season, Williams played in all 50 games of the lockout-shortened season and averaged 12.8 points and six assists per game. He followed that up by playing 81 games his second season and averaged 12.3 points and 7.3 assists.
Technically, Williams was traded to the Vancouver Grizzlies, but a few weeks after the deal, the team relocated to Memphis. He spent four seasons with Memphis, followed by three with the Miami Heat where he played a key role in the Heat’s NBA title in 2006. He retired after the 2007-08 season, but made a brief comeback playing for the Orlando Magic and the Grizzlies.
Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant: Who’s the best?
Take your pick. When it comes to the NBA’s greatest player of all time, there are several options, but three names – Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant – usually head the list. Jordan is usually at the top of the list with his six championship rings and his seven straight scoring titles (10 overall). Throw in five MVPs, 14 NBA All-Star appearances, nine NBA All-Defensive selections, three steals titles, and six NBA Finals MVPs and there’s a pretty strong case for Jordan as being the best.
LeBron James is a four-time MVP and was a co-favorite with Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo for the award again this season before it was suspended. James is a 16-time NBA All-Star who has won three NBA titles. James has won just one scoring title but was the league’s assist leader this season. His versatility and his 6-foot-9, 250-pound frame have helped him outperform Jordan statistically in the rebound and assist departments. Like Jordan, James is an outstanding defensive player, making the NBA All-Defensive Team six times. James is third on the all-time scoring list. Still going strong at the age of 35, it’s expected he will finish at the top by the end of his career.
Kobe Bryant is a five-time NBA champion and an 18-time NBA All-Star. He is fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list as James just passed him earlier this season. Bryant, too, was very strong on the defensive side of the ball, making the NBA All-Defensive Team for 12 seasons. Bryant finished his career by averaging 25 points per game. He was named the league’s MVP during the 2007-08 season. During the 2005-06 season, Bryant led the league in scoring with a 35.4 point-per-game average.
Williams makes his choice
In an Instagram post Thursday, former NBA point guard Jason gave his opinion on who the NBA’s GOAT was. Williams’ career overlapped all three players so who better to ask than someone who played with them. Williams opened his post by saying he has love for all three of the players and then he gave his opinion.
“King James is the GOAT,” Williams wrote with three goat emojis. “Before I get into it, let me make it clear: there was never a badder human being to step foot on a basketball court than Michael Jordan. His intensity and competitive fire and six rings speak for itself. As for Kobe, the dude was for real a genius, a savant. He studied and dissected the game like a surgeon and then worked harder than anybody else.”
Williams then went on to explain his LeBron James choice. “If we’re talking PURELY BASKETBALL, he’s the GOAT. Beo could lead the league in 5 statistical categories if he wanted to and MJ just couldn’t have done that. Bron got the perfect body/IQ/raw ability for the game of basketball and that’s just a fact! UNSTOPPABLE. If you’re building a basketball player, you’re going to build LeBron’s body/mind/skillset every time over anyone else who’s ever played the game!!!”
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.