Like pretty much every basketball fan across the globe, the Portland Trail Blazers forward watched “The Last Dance” documentary and has been following all of the hot takes and arguments that have ensued. He thinks that type of “barbershop talk” is great for the fans, but he doesn’t much care for player comparisons — particularly between Jordan and James, two of the best to ever play.
“I don’t like it. And I say that because whenever we do that, we fail to appreciate what we have in front of us,” Anthony told CBS Sports. “Any time these comparisons are made, whether it’s anybody — old school versus new school — it’s like, why can’t we just appreciate everybody for what they bring to the game?”
Despite his unwillingness to engage in the debate, Anthony did concede that he agrees with the consensus that Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time but also said that shouldn’t take anything away from what LeBron has accomplished.
“You know, M.J. is the GOAT. He’s the greatest ever. We all know that and we all agree to that. Why can’t we say that, but also give LeBron his flowers while he’s here too?” Anthony said. “Why can’t we say, ‘M.J. was very great, LeBron is very great, Kobe is very great.’ We’re not allowed to say those things today, because it’s always this or that, and that’s just our society — you have to choose one.”
Anthony is a good authority on both all-time greats. He’s developed a relationship with Jordan since signing with the Jordan Brand in 2003, and has known and played against James since high school. Anthony said it’s particularly difficult to compare Jordan and James because they’re “two totally different players.”
In terms of the documentary itself, Anthony thinks that it helped bridge the gap between Jordan and younger fans who may have only heard tales or seen brief highlights of his legendary accomplishments. He also said that it gave all of us a glimpse of Jordan as a human being, which some people may not have necessarily liked.
“I think it’s surprising to people because they never knew who he was as a person — they never knew what type of person he was. Everything was just, ‘M.J. the great. M.J. the GOAT. Basketball God. Black Jesus. Black Cat.’ That’s what they knew. But they didn’t know who he was,” Anthony told CBS Sports. “It was a myth. He was a mythical person, like a mythical creature. Nobody understood who he was or what he was. I think seeing him kind of take the lid off the pot and having the chance to kind of just tell his story and people can hear his passion — what he’s into, what he’s not, and how he operates on the day-to-day, his mentality. Most people loved it. Some people were very surprised. And then there were people who hated it, because a lot of times people hate the actual truth.”
Listening to Anthony explain how Jordan was judged from the outside without being truly understood, it was impossible to ignore the parallels to Anthony himself, who has occasionally been portrayed in a negative light throughout his career. While Jordan seems to keep those slights with him and is intent to prove doubters wrong, Anthony takes a different approach.
“It hit home, but then you also understand that at the end of the day, there’s nothing you can do if somebody wants to put a negative narrative out there about you,” Anthony said. “There’s really nothing you can do, so what I’ve learned over the years is, whatever’s gonna happen is gonna happen. Whatever people are gonna say, people are gonna say. Just don’t give them anything to talk about. You’re doing your job and working hard. If you know you’re putting your all into it, anything somebody else says doesn’t even matter to you.”