Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Magic Johnson: Who is the NBA GOAT?

Planet Sport's Jason Soutar considers the NBA GOAT debate and comes up with a clear winner - Michael Jordan.

There are many names who can be thrown into basketball's greatest of all time (GOAT) discussion and there are many ways to determine what the correct answer is.

But who is it? And what are the reasons for this player's greatness?

Who is the GOAT in the NBA?

The most common (and correct) answer to this question is former Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan.

'Air Jordan' won no fewer than six NBA championships during his time with the Chicago Bulls, claiming the Finals MVP award on all six occasions.

His 6-0 record in NBA Finals is terrific ammunition for his army of fans when debating who the GOAT is, with arguably his closest contender for the title, LeBron James, going 4-6 in the Finals.

Jordan, who spent his final playing years representing the Washington Wizards, was also crowned the National Basketball Association's MVP five times, as well as being named Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year during his career.

He averaged a remarkable 30.1 points per game in his career, winning ten scoring titles.

Why is Michael Jordan the GOAT?

Jordan played in one of the toughest eras in NBA history, overcoming some of the greatest players of all time.

Whoever was on top, MJ came for.

His first foe was Isiah Thomas and the 'Bad Boy' Detroit Pistons, who the Bulls swept in 1991 after three consecutive play-off series defeats.

Dethroning the Pistons was the beginning as MJ went on to win his first championship, in his sixth season, beating Magic Johnson's Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals, toppling another legend, and potential GOAT.

Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing and Reggie Miller, to name a few, didn't stand a chance in the Eastern Conference while Jordan was playing. The Utah Jazz, in the West, can thank Jordan that they have never won a championship, with legendary duo John Stockton and Karl Malone failing to beat the shooting guard.

Jordan's ten appearances in the All-NBA First Team Indicates that he was the best in his position for a decade of basketball. His nine inclusions in the All-Defensive First Team prove that he was one of the best five defenders for nine seasons, plus his five MVP gongs show that he was the best in the league for five seasons - and it should have been more.

Jordan was a winner, and he knew it. He was the best trash talker, he always put his money where his mouth was, and he would take any possible opportunity he could in order to win.

When Karl Malone controversially won the MVP award ahead of Jordan in 1998, he took the opportunity to dominate the power forward in the Finals that season. He didn't take too kindly to being compared to Clyde Drexler of the Portland Trailblazers, and once again used the Finals in '92 to prove that he was in a completely different class.

Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson

When you average more points per game than anyone in NBA history, you are bound to have knocked down some clutch shots in your career. And my word, did Michael Jordan do that.

Jordan dropped 63 points on Larry Bird's Boston Celtics in his second-ever play-off campaign, which is still an NBA record for most points in a post-season game.

Other 'best moments' included the iconic game-winner over Cleveland Cavaliers' Craig Ehlo in the '89 play-offs, the infamous 'Flu Game' when MJ dropped 38 points in game five of the '97 Finals and game six of the '98 Finals in which Jordan scored that shot to win it against the unfortunate Utah Jazz.

Who are Jordan's GOAT rivals?

You can argue that Bill Russell, who won 11 titles, is the GOAT.

You can argue that four-time NBA champion LeBron James, who may finish as the leading scorer in NBA history and is probably the greatest pure athlete basketball has ever seen, is the GOAT.

You can argue that Magic Johnson, the greatest point guard of all time and physical freak, is the GOAT.

You can make cases for Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but when you take everything into account, there is only one GOAT: Michael Jordan.

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