The GOAT debate is a never-ending one, but you can trust old-timers to stick to Jordan. Former Celtic Dino Rađa believes both Kobe and MJ were better than LeBron.
One of the pioneering European big men to move to the NBA, Dino Rađa appeared for the Celtics in 4 seasons. While he had limited success in the league, Rađa tasted enough of the league to know what he’s talking about. Rađa and Toni Kukoc were crucial to Croatia’s success on the European basketball scene in their heyday.
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Rađa is no slouch as a player. He was named as one of FIBA’s 50 greatest players in 1991, the 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors in 2008 and is a Hall of Famer. His opinion holds a ton of weight in the GOAT debate.
Why Rađa believes Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan were better than LeBron James
Talking to Croatian news website Index.hr, Rađa gave his takes on various basketball matters. This included his take on the GOAT debate, in which he minces no words:
“When the comparisons between LeBron and Jordan start, I vomit. My son assures me that LeBron is better but for me, it’s not a discussion. If he had played twenty years ago, LeBron wouldn’t have been able to do even half of this.”
“Today, when LeBron enters the paint, everyone moves away from him, but Jordan was getting beaten like no one and he still dominated. In front of LeBron were Kobe Bryant and some others. I respect LeBron but Kobe was better.”
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The introduction of the defensive 3-second rule in 2001 is the specific that you’re looking for, in case you’re wondering. While zone defenses were banned in Jordan’s heyday, the rules were applied very loosely. Drives to the basket were nearly always contested by a big man camped in the paint. The introduction of the 3-second rule changed that forever.
Moreover, hand-checking was completely banned in the year 2004, by which time Kobe Bryant was already a 3-time champion. Jordan was, of course, retired by then. This allowed LeBron to dominate with a set of rules that allowed him to maximize his physical superiority.
“You guys know how much I love Michael Jordan. I wear No. 23 because of Michael Jordan… Y’all can do the debates.”
—LeBron James on the GOAT debate after his 4th title pic.twitter.com/kWlWdQcXb4
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 13, 2020
There will probably never be a consensus answer to the GOAT debate with LeBron firmly in that territory now. But one has to wonder if he would be as dominant while driving to the paint in an era with few shooting big men, 3-point shooters and no 3-second rule.