You knew it was coming the second the clock struck zero on LeBron James' fourth ever NBA championship. The GOAT conversation is born anew.
With James' latest feat, the conversation at least appears whittled down to two names: Him and Michael Jordan (though if you tossed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's name in the ring, no reasonable person would deny his candidacy). Given each of James and Jordan's unearthly resumes, the debate feels like a matter of personal taste at this point. On accolades alone, we're entering too-close-to-call territory.
But those that saw Jordan's rise and supremacy up close swear not only by his late-game exploits, impossible scoring displays and insatiable will-to-win, but also his broader impact beyond the game of basketball.
Take it from Sam Smith, longtime, legendary Bulls writer and author of "The Jordan Rules." Speaking on the latest Bulls Talk Podcast, he laid out why he'll never see LeBron on the same level of athlete — and icon — as Jordan.
"What separates Jordan and a few others — Babe Ruth, (Muhammed) Ali — is, to me, is the impact on society that Michael had, Michael truly had in clothing, in looks, people just wanting to see it," Smith said. "As great as LeBron is, people don’t turn on to just ‘I’ve got to see what LeBron’s gonna do next.’
"And there’s been no basketball figure that — I’ve been watching since Wilt and Russell and saw those guys play and Oscar — and there’s not figure in basketball in this 70 years or whatever that I can point to an said has had a bigger impact on society and the world and the game than Michael Jordan."
Listen to the rest of the podcast here or via the embedded player below: