Phil Jackson may be retired from his rather successful NBA coaching gigs, but the Zen master still contemplates the nature of the sport from time to time. Recently, he mused on the respective talents of Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
And, maybe this is just the Zen talking, but he thinks James has the potential to give MJ a run for his money in the greatness department, even if James presently is five championship rings off the pace. Here’s Jackson on ESPN’s “Waddle and Silvy Show” (via Sports Radio Interviews):
“He’s got all the physical attributes. I think we all question the prepping that went into LeBron. His defense was shaky when he was a younger player and finding his way through that direction. He is a player that can play four positions. Except for perhaps the center spot, which he hasn’t given a shot at yet, he can play those other four positions quite well. This is unique; Michael could play three and was very good at all three of those. But as a power player that LeBron can become, I think he has an opportunity to explore and advance some of the status that he has already gained.
“Winning six championships is an elusive thing out there, and they haven’t won two yet. But he’s kinda got the smell of it and even the Olympic experience this summer, he was the granted leader of that team and was the critical player when they needed something to happen in the final games. I think he’s there. I think he’s at that position. He’s got good things ahead of him, and a lot of it depends upon if he’s gonna be healthy for the remainder of his career.”
Jackson was asked whether LBJ could unseat MJ as the best player of all time.
“I have a hard time judging that best player, but I do think that Michael had more moves in the post and he had more of a, perhaps, shooting touch with his back to the basket and all these kind of things that were part of his game. LeBron has this train out of control when he gets the ball in transition that he can go coast to coast without anyone getting in his way. And if they do, he’s going to over run them. And he’s got the power with the body, and he’s developed a left hand that’s extremely good.
“There’s a lot of things that you are seeing in the development of this player that leads towards that, but the ideal and the whole reason behind this is what kind of championships are you gonna get from a player like this? Can he match what Michael has done?”