Ric Bucher Weighs In On LeBron/MJ Debate

The Bleacher Report NBA writer gave his pick for the greatest basketball player of all time

Tiki and Tierney
January 04, 2019 - 3:48 pm

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LeBron James’ NBA story is still being written, but that doesn’t mean analysts can’t weigh in on his legacy, particularly his place among the greatest players of all time.

For many people, the GOAT discussion is a two-horse race: LeBron and Michael. Michael and LeBron.

Bleacher Report NBA writer Ric Bucher dropped by CBS Sports Radio to give his thoughts on the popular debate.

“Michael Jordan is the greatest player I’ve ever seen play,” Bucher said on Tiki and Tierney. “Now, I didn’t see Oscar Robertson. I didn’t see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in his prime. There’s Bill Russell. There’s George Mikan. Among all the guys that I’ve seen, Michael Jordan is the greatest player I’ve ever seen play.”

Bucher was asked why he felt that way.

“No. 1, fundamentally, he came into the league with a much more complete game,” Bucher said, “and two, he competed and he tried to win every single possession every single night. It’s become kind of mythical that he was always playing for the first person that may be seeing him for the first time and wanted to prove to that person in the building that he was the best player. Now, he didn’t aways succeed. He didn’t always knock down shots. But he always competed.”

Does that imply that James doesn’t always compete?

“LeBron may be smarter than all of us, and he may be smarter in that what he’s done, he’s created longevity,” Bucher said. “There are times when I look at him and I go, ‘This is time for LeBron to take over.’ And LeBron does not. Now, expending that energy to win games in the middle of the season, regular-season games, maybe he’s smarter than all of us in saying, ‘This is not the time. I’m not going to exert myself now. I’m going to make sure that I have the longevity. I’m going to make sure that I don’t suffer any serious injuries. So I’m going to bank my fire until I feel as if now is the time I have to go.’ 

“It’s a different mindset,” Bucher continued. “It’s a different approach. But I can’t deny watching Michael Jordan and just the thrill of watching somebody who, every single minute, was going for the jugular. There’s something spicy about that. That’s why you have Shark Week, right? You love that predator in the water and you go, ‘That thing is looking for trouble.’ Michael Jordan, whether it was practice or a game, (always competed).”