What they're saying

January 14, 1999

From the NBA's top 50

With a few exceptions, many of the NBA's 50 greatest players agreed that Michael Jordan was the best of all. Some of their comments: "I don't think you can pick a single greatest. Jordan is more a forward than a guard. But how do you compare him to a center? They've got different jobs. It's apples and oranges. It's comparing golfers to tennis players. He's certainly great. Is he the greatest in his category? I wouldn't say that. A guy like Elgin Baylor got less publicity. Wilt, Russell, there are many great players. You can name the 15 greatest. He'd probably be in that category." -- Paul Arizin

"I keep hearing he's the greatest and that upsets me. It's not fair to other players. You can't compare a 2-guard to a center. There are five different and distinct positions. He's the greatest 2-guard I ever saw and the most exciting player." -- Rick Barry

"Not only do I admire Jordan's accomplishments and his phenomenal basketball ability, but also the way he has conducted himself on and off the court. I don't think there will ever be another player to have the same impact on the game. If you look up the definition of greatness in the dictionary, it will say Michael Jordan." -- Elgin Baylor

"Michael is the most talented player I've ever seen. Wilt was the most dominating, but Michael has the most talent in every aspect of the game, even defense.

"He's the best ever because of his combination of skills, his competitiveness. Russell, Wilt, Kareem dominated because of their size, but they didn't have Michael's skills." -- Dave Bing

"Is he the greatest? He's in the top two." -- Larry Bird

"He's by far the best since Naismith hung up the basket. He could play three, maybe four positions and maybe even center, too. He has no discernible weakness. The keys to basketball, despite the emphasis on big men, is still speed and quickness. He has them in abundance. When I jumped as high as I could, I got to the bottom of the net. When he jumps as high as he can, he's over the backboard." -- Bob Cousy

"I think he was the best ever. The whole package. He's scary sometimes with his defense. The passion he had amazes me." -- Billy Cunningham

"He's an icon, a one-man show. He's won one more championship than I did. He'll be rubbing it in my face for eternity. I was hoping he would stay just one more year to help these young NBA players learn how to be a true professional." -- Magic Johnson

"He's the one and only Michael Jordan. He does everything well. He's great offensively and defensively. What else would you want a guy to do?" -- George Mikan

"I cannot imagine anyone playing any better." -- Bill Russell

"He has the complete package in all facets of his offensive game, and when you break him down defensively, he's also the best defensive player in the game. He should be remembered as the greatest of all time." -- Isiah Thomas

"He's the greatest that ever touched a basketball, that ever lived, any way you want to put it and without a doubt." -- Nate Thurmond

"He has no peers but Michael Jordan. He competes against himself. That's the level he's taken it to." -- Bill Walton

From world's media

"He is the most famous and best-loved sportsman on the planet. The best-paid as well. An entire generation identified with him." -- Swiss newspaper Tribune de Geneve

"Flying Man Jordan is Coming Back to Earth." -- Beijing Morning Post headline

"If you thought boxer Mike Tyson, football legend Pele or racing driver Ayrton Senna were the most recognized names in the world -- forget it." -- The Sun, London

"America would willingly take Clinton's retirement in exchange for Jordan's. Not only was Jordan the best basketball player ever. He was basketball." -- La Repubblica, Rome

Pub Date: 1/14/99

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.