With LeBron James in the NBA finals, the focus has shifted to the 2016 NBA Draft, where the Cleveland Cavaliers are currently the top selection at No. 1 overall. However, Cleveland has no significant need to select their franchise player, so if they are able to trade the pick, it would be in order to move up for a potential superstar, rather than to select their best player—as they did when drafting Kyrie Irving in 2011.
On Friday, ESPN’s Mark Jackson made a startling admission. He defended the Lakers’ decision to start Kobe Bryant over Magic Johnson, saying that it should’ve happened in the 1980s. “Back then, it was Kobe over Magic. That’s just the way it goes.” Jackson’s comments came at the tail end of a segment in which he discussed the future of the Lakers, and how it would play out if Bryant retires.
“There will come a time in the NBA when LeBron James will probably take over the NBA. That time is not now.” — Mark Jackson, Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors. A couple of weeks later, Jackson would once again get a chance to play King James in a real life game, and he would get the opportunity to prove that point on a larger stage. Jackson had been asked by ESPN analyst and former NBA player Jalen Rose, on whether he would rather have Magic Johnson or LeBron James as a player on his all-time starting five.
Regardless of who you consider to be the greatest basketball player of all time, LeBron James and Michael Jordan are both on almost everyone’s all-time starting five.
Jackson, Mark, a former New York Knicks point player and current NBA commentator, fully agrees. He is, however, ready to cheat — his words, not ours — to guarantee James’s place on the squad.
On his starting five, Mark Jackson would choose LeBron James over Magic Johnson.
On his all-time starting five, Mark Jackson (L) selected LeBron James over Magic Johnson as point guard | Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Christian Petersen/Getty Images; Ken Levine/Allsport/Getty Images
We’re willing to make an assumption, notwithstanding what they say about assumptions. If you’re reading this and have an NBA legends starting five, we’re assuming Jordan is either a shooting guard or a small forward, and James is either a small forward or a power forward, depending on where you put the Chicago Bulls icon.
Jackson, like many other fans, has his own list, which he shared in an interview with the New York Post earlier this year. He did, however, name James as his starting point guard, rather than Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Yes, Jackson is aware that he may not have followed all of the regulations in putting together a starting five.
“In adding LeBron and his flexibility, I cheated – it’s always been Magic. But, because of LeBron’s flexibility, I believe I can place him at No. 1 in 2021. And it says a lot about his brilliance, and it allows me to place Kobe [Bryant] and Michael at two and three, respectively.”
As Jackson said, Bryant will play shooting guard, Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets will play power forward, and Wilt Chamberlain will play center.
James has always been a better point guard than most people realize.
Look, we’re going to give Jackson a pass here (no pun intended). James has played point guard in the NBA — not nearly as often as he has played either of the front positions — and he did a good job in that capacity with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s worth remembering, though, that James has always functioned as an unofficial point guard. He’s been the offense’s focal point and the guy in charge of moving the ball up the floor. Derek Fisher, on the other hand, spent part of Bryant’s 20-year career with the Lakers as a genuine point guard.
Mike Brown, who coached James with the Cavaliers from 2005 to 2010, told SLAM in 2020 that he saw him as a point guard at that period. At the time, the All-Star was classified as a small forward by the team.
Brown described the team’s point guards as shooting guards, including All-Star Mo Williams.
“I suppose they simply thought our point guard was the smallest player,” Brown added. “However, that has never been the case.”
Don’t be shocked if Stephen Curry joins the conversation in the near future.
Jackson is prepared to cheat immediately in order to guarantee James’ inclusion in his starting lineup. It would be fascinating to watch if the former Golden State Warriors head coach ever changes his mind and adds Stephen Curry, an All-Star point guard during their time together from 2011 to 2014.
Curry is one of the best shooters in NBA history, having aided in the development of the modern 3-point shot. In 2019, Warriors player Andre Iguodala told ESPN that Johnson was the best point guard in league history, with his teammate coming in second.
Iguodala stated he wouldn’t quarrel with anybody who chose Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons over Curry. The issue with comparing the two point guards is that each of them was a typical floor general. Curry’s shooting and long-range ability have proven to be an offensive nightmare for 29 of the league’s clubs.
Curry, who turned 33 earlier this year, still has plenty of time to alter people’s views and cement his place in fans’ starting lineups. What are the chances? Perhaps Jackson will devise a new method of cheating in order to retain James and Jordan in his ideal lineup.
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