Michael Jordan was a great professional basketball player. But, he isn't the National Basketball Association's Greatest of All-Time.

Everybody has an opinion. Everybody.

Some sports fans have been known to have short memories, too.  When I hear names tossed around as who is the greatest, be in from the position they played, the teams they were part of, or championships they are associated with, it's all subjective.

Through the decades that the NBA has been around since its inception in 1946, so many variables have evolved to aid players and coaches with success.  Travel has progressively gotten better to where teams used to fly commercial airlines, to having chartered planes with all the pampered luxuries needed for players to be as rested as possible for the next city they appear.

Nutrition continues to make a huge difference in player performances. Meals, what were served, how and when from the 1960s and 1970s, to what private chefs employed by the teams serve today make a world of a difference to players' overall health.  Speaking of health, the advancements in medical care, most importantly with rehabilitation programs to follow up with after surgeries or injuries that don't require going under the knife, has lengthened careers, and made athletes stronger and faster than ever before.

Each generation of play should improve in their overall point scoring and defensive abilities, thanks in part to advancements in technologies.  The introduction of computers to the sport allows proper decisions to be made at a quicker pace, filled with more data, to lead to a successful outcome.

To claim one person is the best the NBA has ever produced is nothing less than disrespectful to those who laced up their sneakers before that individual, and to those yet to join the greatest basketball league in the world.

So, having laid out a case that each generation of the NBA has a GOAT, let's take a look at Jordan's accomplishments, and those superstars that ran up and down courts in NBA cities other than Chicago on a regular basis.

Michael Jeffrey Jordan made himself the best player of his era. After 15 seasons in the NBA, Jordan collected a half dozen championship rings.  Throw in 10 scoring titles, and bam, fans who saw Jordan become the cultural icon that he is today, who else could they imagine was as dominating as him?

Well, it's that short memory thing again.

Also, remember, when Jordan began his career, in America, cable TV took off.  NBA fans went from watching their home team on a local channel or waiting until Sundays when a TV network would air a game of the week.  Greats of the game prior to the explosion of houses being wired for cable didn't have that luxury of coast to coast notoriety on a regular basis.

Almost daily, pick your favorite sports social media account, some fans have a need to make the case for their favorite baller LeBron James as being "better" than Jordan. While LeBron is number one on the all-time scoring list, Jordan is at number five.

When it comes to most games played in NBA history, Jordan isn't in the top 50 .  Looking at assist leaders, Jordan isn't in the top 25.

If you judge GOAT status from winning championships, then Jordan takes a back seat to fellow hall of famer and Boston Celtic legend Bill Russell.  Russell led his Celtic squads to 11 NBA championships.  But, playing in the 1950s and 1960s was a whole lot different than being in the NBA during the 1980s and 1990s.  This isn't to diminish Russell's dominance. Not at all. It was a different game than what Jordan was introduced to in 1984.

I also wonder what the criteria is when someone says "all-time."  Just how far back to they go, to reach all-time?

Before crowning Jordan the GOAT, have fans of this camp reviewed the successes of Rick Barry? Barry, a hall of famer, was a scoring machine in two leagues - the NBA and ABA (American Basketball Association).  Have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's stats been thoroughly vetted? The hall of famer who won championships with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers is second all-time in NBA scoring.

In selecting Jordan the "best of the best" ever produced in the NBA, I assume the thrills created on the court by "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird don't pass the mustard?  Then, there is Kobe Bryant.  In  a pick-up game or in NBA Finals play, would you tell Kobe he isn't in Jordan's league?

Having been a fan of the NBA since the 1969-1970 season when the New York Knickerbockers captured the championship, I've been privileged to have seen so many all-stars entertain audiences.  Everyone of them, including Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek, Allen Iverson, Julius Erving, and 'Pistol' Pete Maravich, made significant contributions to the betterment of the NBA.  They dominated. They put fans in seats. They were GOATs before the term became hip.

No disrespect to Jordan. He had his day, but so did many others, before and after he hung up his sneakers.

Kristine Bellino, WIBX

Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter from the Mohawk Valley, now living in Florida. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com. 

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