Late Tuesday evening, the official SportsCenter Twitter account posted the results to its greatest college basketball player of all-time bracket, voted on by the masses.
The winner: Michael Jordan. He took down Larry Bird, who carried Indiana State to a narrow defeat in one of the more memorable title games in NCAA history against Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans in 1979.
It's not often you'll see us argue against Jordan as the GOAT in any category. But, frankly, this is ludicrous.
Yes, Jordan hit the game-winning jumper en route to a national title in his freshman season, earned consensus national player of the year honors as a junior, was a two-time first-team all-American and racked up a number of ACC-specific honors (rookie of the year in '81-82, two first team all-ACCs and two ACC tournament wins) in his three years at storied North Carolina. Those accolades are nothing to scoff at, and certainly becoming of a deep run in such a tournament.
But come on, now.
It took only one scroll into SportsCenter's mentions to find a compelling case against Jordan:
56 PTS in his varsity debut
3 championships in 3 years
3 Most Outstanding Player in NCAA tournament
The NCAA also banned the dunk after Kareem's sophomore year. The "no-dunking rule" was also known as the "Lew Alcindor rule" pic.twitter.com/gHlin4F0vX— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 1, 2020
That last point cannot be emphasized enough. Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) was so dominant at the college level they changed the damn rules of the game to try and level the playing field! And all of that is without mentioning his averages of 26.4 points and 16.8 rebounds on 63.9% shooting, three first-team All-American nods, one Naismith and two AP player of the year awards in his three seasons at UCLA.
Another name that warrants mention in this discussion: Breanna Stewart, who starred at UConn from 2012-2016. Here's her resume in bulleted form, because typing it out would leave about as daunting a block of text as one could imagine:
- 151-5 record (including NCAA tournaments)
- Four-time NCAA champion
- Four-time NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player
- Three-time NCAA consensus national player of the year
- Three-time consensus first team All-American
Heck, even Bill Walton, who won two national titles, two NCAA tournament MOPs (he dropped 44 points on 21-for-22 shooting in the 1973 title game) and three national player of the year awards at UCLA while averaging a 20 and 16 on 65% shooting might have a case. The list goes on.
The bottom line is that this debate centers on the greatest college player of all-time. Putting Jordan's accolades at the NBA level aside, he doesn't fit that bill. Whether you prefer Alcindor, Stewart or some other credible candidate remains up for debate.
As we continue to adjust to life without live sports, you can be sure it will rage on.