We’ve been listening to the argument, which has heated up again lately, about who is better, LeBron James or Michael Jordan.
You can put us down for Jordan with one caveat: LeBron is probably a better all-around player.
Jordan was a superb defender and a devastating offensive force, but James probably has a better all-around game. We don’t remember Jordan being nearly as good a passer or rebounder and we’ve never heard anyone go through game the way James did after Cleveland lost to Boston in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday. That was amazing.
On the other hand, Jordan would never have been held to 15 points by Boston in that game. He had too many tools.
It reminded us of another argument though, which is even more interesting in a way: who was better, Shaquille O’ Neal or Wilt Chamberlain.
To us, there’s no question that it was Chamberlain. He was an insane athlete. He ran track, sprints too, did the high jump, was competent in gymastics on the rings, had a phenomenal vertical and is the only guy we know of who could block Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Skyhook.
That’s not what tips us to Wilt though. There’s no question that O’ Neal was a powerful center. However, Chamberlain was probably stronger. That’s still not it though.
A couple of things persuaded us that Wilt would have dominated Shaq.
First, he didn’t have the benefit of modern training and equipment. Something we take for granted like modern shoes have been through several revolutions but also modern training, nutrition and medical care have changed everything.
It’s hard to imagine how Chamberlain’s body would have been improved because he was - and is - the greatest physical talent in the history of the league.
There’s one other factor (aside from desire) that would have given Chamberlain a huge advantage though.
O’ Neal was, for much of his career, significantly overweight. Chamberlain on the other hand was always in superb condition and could run for hours.
O’ Neal could never have bullied him the way he pushed other guys around. Chamberlain could have pushed back and made him run too. He would have owned O’ Neal.
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