Jor­dan picked over James — but ‘Dr. J was the best’

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Shaquille O’Neal weighed into bas­ket­ball’s great de­bate on Tues­day when he backed a young Michael Jor­dan to beat LeBron James one-on-one — but added that both were out­shone by the leg­endary Dr. J.

O’Neal, vis­it­ing Hong Kong to pro­mote an energy drink, faced both Jor­dan and James in their prime and when asked who would win a hy­po­thet­i­cal match-up, he didn’t hes­i­tate.

“Mike,” said O’Neal, win­ner of four NBA ti­tles with the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers (2000-2002) and the Mi­ami Heat (2006). “I think you have to go with a young Jor­dan ev­ery time.”

O’Neal was ad­dress­ing an is­sue which has cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion dur­ing the NBA off-sea­son af­ter both James and Jor­dan in­sisted they would win if they clashed at the height of their pow­ers.

In com­ments splashed by media, Jor­dan said he would come out on top “No ques­tion,” while James re­torted to the NBC’s To­day show: “I’m gonna take my­self ver­sus any­body.”

But Shaq, 43, said he’d side with Chicago Bulls star Jor­dan over Cleve­land’s James.

“It would be an in­ter­est­ing game,” said O’Neal. “Young LeBron was more like (Lak­ers Hall of Famer) Magic John­son. He was sort of like Magic with Jor­dan’s abil­i­ties. He liked to pass, and he liked to get it up.

“But Mike was Mike. He was just spe­cial, like no one else. He al­ways did things no one else could do, and things you couldn’t com­pare to any­one else. So he was spe­cial, and he’d win.”

The 30-year-old James’ star con­tin­ues to rise through two NBA ti­tles with the Mi­ami Heat (2011-12, 2012-13), four NBA MVPs, and a re­turn to his home­town of Cleve­land on a mis­sion to lead the Cava­liers to their first ti­tle.

There has also been much de­bate over whether he, or the now-re­tired Jor­dan — with six NBA ti­tles and five NBA MVPs to his name — could be la­beled the great­est of all time.

But O’Neal threw another player into the mix when he said 1970s and 1980s su­per­star Julius Erv­ing AKA Dr. J was the best he had ever seen.

“I’ve seen young Mike and young LeBron and I must say Dr. J is still my fa­vorite player,” said O’Neal. “A lot of peo­ple to­day don’t even men­tion his name but to me I still think he was the best. But these are ques­tions that we’ll never know the an­swer to.

“It’s a bit like if I met Bruce Lee in an al­ley­way. Who would win? You’ll never know. Some peo­ple say well Bruce would kick Shaq’s ass. Some peo­ple say well Shaq is two times big­ger than Bruce Lee. It’s a good ques­tion, a good con­ver­sa­tion. But we’ll never know.”

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