The GOAT Wars: A Statistical Analysis



AdotSad is a coastal elite living in the California bubble of Orange County. He’s a pharmacist by day and a time waster by night. He is on Twitter.

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5 Responses

  1. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I’ll throw in an admittedly unpopular opinion on the topic: Jordan only ever won with Phil Jackson, who really did have a gift for getting superstars and supporting players to accept certain defined roles for the good of the whole. I can’t think of another coach in NBA history that was ever able to do what Jackson did, save Popovich.

    Jordan wasn’t able to translate his talent into the level of winning we remember him by with Lougherly, Albeck, or Collins pre-Jackson, and he wasn’t able to do it with Walker, Hamilton, or Collins (again) post-Jackson. That’s not a knock on him, but I think it suggests that Michael needed Jackson (and a team of players dedicated to played Jackson’s game plan) to be Michael.

    One of the amazing things about LeBron, to me, is that he seems to personally thrive in whatever system you slide him in, and he’s helped teams over-perform (and win championships) in multiple systems with multiple coaches. It’s really amazing, and doesn’t get nearly enough acknowledgement IMHO.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      I’ve always thought Jackson was badly underrated while he was actively coaching. Not so much now, when advocates can just say “11 rings.”Report

    • To @tod-kelly points, think of it this way: James is one of the few all time greats that isn’t paired with an all time great coach at least at one point in their career. So on top of the numbers, accomplishments, the longevity, the consistent greatness, he also has done it without a key piece most of his peers in the all time greats had with coaching. Closes thing was his years with Riley probably but even that wasn’t a day to day coaching thing.

      I find myself mostly agreeing with Adot’s conclusions: if we use the great Bob Ryan’s “Earth vs Aliens for fate of the world game” scenario I probably want Jordan for his relentless competitive kill mode. But in almost every category, James is or is about to surpass Jordan in all but titles and has been great for a far longer period of time. Hard to argue against that.Report

    • Avatar AdotSad says:

      It’s an interesting theory though, you could also make the case that Phil only won anything because he lucked into MJ + prime Pippen and then got Shaq/Kobe. Should also be noted that Bulls got to the Conf Finals in 1988-89 without Phil and lost in the same place the following year with Phil. My guess is it was a combination of coach + Pippen/Grant gaining some experience that ultimately put the Bulls over the hump.

      As to your second point, I actually agree and I tried to allude to that with LeBron having a higher “floor” in terms of team success. It is pretty remarkable how successful he’s been from basically his 3rd year onward with different rosters/coaches.Report

  2. Avatar Mark Van H says:

    Space Jam.

    Jordan wins.

    And yes, ten year old me thought it was hilarious. And I will now let the grown-ups talk to each other.Report