Hot Take Marathon: Larry Bird is Better Than Michael Jordan

Hot Take Marathon: Larry Bird is Better Than Michael Jordan

August 8, 2019

ESPN 

 

Larry Bird has become one of the most underrated legends in the history of the game. The debate over who the greatest of all time has been dominated by Michael Jordan and LeBron James for so long that the idea that someone can be in that conversation sounds ridiculous. However, Larry Bird was a better player than the guy everyone thinks has the crown. Let's break down why:

 

Superior Competition

 

Whenever a Jordan fan wants to discredit someone from another era, they like to bring up that the 1990s was the pinnacle of basketball and every other era is inferior by comparison. Is that true though? When comparing eras, I like to only talk about players within that era’s position group. For example, when comparing the competition of Bird and Jordan I'm only talking about perimeter players because neither of them were guarding or being guarded by big men. With that out of the way, the best perimeter player in the 90’s other than Jordan was either Reggie Miller or Scottie Pippen. The idea that Pippen could be the best of that era is telling considering the fact that he was Jordan’s teammate. Other than those two you have guys like Isiah Thomas, Gary Payton, Magic Johnson, or Larry Bird himself, who all played in the ’90s but played their best basketball in the ’80s. On Bird’s side, he has Thomas, Magic, Payton, Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins, and James Worthy. All of those players are just as good, if not better than Miller or Pippen. It's clear that Bird saw the strongest competition. 

 

Better All-Around Game

 

Michael Jordan has the edge in defense, athleticism, and scoring points. Larry Bird is the better rebounder, passer, and shooter from all over the court. The debate about who's the better scorer isn't as cut and dry as people think. Unless you want to go off the number of points scored, (Jordan is 5th all-time despite the fact that he's considered the greatest scorer) the greatest scorer debate has a lot of wiggle room. Many point to the fact that Jordan was a 10-time scoring champion(the most all-time) as proof of his unparalleled greatness as a scorer. If you are one of those people I pose this question: Does having the most scoring titles really make you a better scorer? Before you answer yes think about this: Russell Westbrook has more scoring titles than LeBron James and Bob McAdoo has more scoring titles than Kareem. 

 

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