- Language Tips
HOUSTON - Michael Jordan never played against LeBron James but that has not stopped the two from going one-on-one over how to determine greatness on the basketball court.
Jordan, widely hailed as the best player of all-time and who turns 50 on Sunday, believes it is all about championship rings, while James, 28, thinks that view is a little too simplistic.
The debate has been the chief talking point of reporters and players in the run-up to the National Basketball Association's (NBA) All-Star game in Houston on Sunday.
NBA All-Star LeBron James of the Miami Heat (L) and All-Star Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers meet on the court during the NBA All-Star basketball game in Houston, Texas, Feb 17, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
In an interview on NBA-TV to be aired Monday, Jordan took a swipe at James, saying his one championship could not compare with the five won by Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.
"If you had to pick between the two, that would be a tough choice, but five beats one every time I look at it, and not that he (James) won't get five, he may get more than that, but five is bigger than one."
James, a nine-time All-Star and three-time NBA Most Valuable Player, told reporters covering Sunday's All-Star game that was just Jordan's opinion.
"At the end of the day, rings don't always define someone's career," said James. "If that's the case, I would sit up and here and say (Bill) Russell over Jordan. But I wouldn't.
"Russell has 11 rings and Jordan has six. Or I would take (seven-time NBA champion) Robert Horry over Kobe. I wouldn't do that."
James has been on such a scoring streak comparisons with the game's all-time greats were inevitable.
Before he won his first title last season with the Miami Heat he was generally regarded as a great individual talent but not in the conversation with Bryant, or someone like Jordan, who won six crowns with the Chicago Bulls.