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John Salley Says Michael Jordan Isn’t One Of The Top Five Greatest Players Of All Time


John Salley, whom you may know from his days as host of The Best Damn Sports Show Period or perhaps his days averaging seven points and four rebounds per game en route to four NBA championships, is “a Michael Jordan fan.” But while speaking to ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, Salley said he doesn’t put MJ in his top five players of all time.

He says Magic Johnson is the greatest ever. No mention of today’s players or Chamberlain/Russell/anyone that played before his own era.

Watch the video:

Next, was Larry Bird. Then, Kareem Abdul-Jabbaar. The hardest guy I had to guard? Hakeem Olajuwon…and then Kevin McHale… And the greatest player I’ve ever played with… (mumbo jumbo about playing with MJ, Pippen and Kobe)… Isiah Thomas is the best player I’ve ever played with.

John Salley probably knows more about basketball than I ever will. But tell me your head didn’t just explode.

His argument had something to do with some shot that went off the backboard (and went in and won a game, I think?) in 1981 that people “ridiculed” Jordan for, or something. And his big hands and updated hand-check rules. And something about technical fouls. Seriously, ISIAH THOMAS?

“(Jordan)’s a good player… he’s a great player. But he wasn’t the best. I watched Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman push him left and him shoot 32 times. So I was in a situation where we weren’t worried about it. We just knew that if he pushed him left, and he picked the ball up, he couldn’t pass it. *evil smile*

Again, here’s the moment that started it all.

I just don’t think he’s the greatest player ever. I think the greatest player I’ve ever played against was Magic Johnson.

Here’s his face, frozen, after that comment.

It almost appears that he’s serious, but you can decide for yourself. If Skip Bayless ever dies — if trolls can die, that is — ESPN has found its replacement host for First Take.

[Barstool Sports; image via]



  • I am Nikki

    The question is subjective and I respect his opinion, while actually not caring for him as a person.

  • The Kid From the Block

    Michael Jordan is by far the greatest NBA basketball player
    that has ever stepped foot on a court. It all started with his first years in
    the league, when he would put up incredible numbers (averaging over thirty five
    points a game a couple of times). He won three consecutive titles and then won
    three more after he came back from retirement. Not many players can put a claim
    to basically winning six straight titles; of course he did this while being the
    complete center of his team. He still put up crazy scoring numbers not to
    mention great rebounding and assist, all the while hitting the most incredible
    game winning jumpers. Not many players can have their game-winning jumpers make
    the top ten of all time. He also completed the trifecta of mvps’ (mvp of
    regular season, all-star-game and finals.) He’s also showed a lot of character
    during the years. A very humble, and competitive player, he did not have a
    flashy or cocky personality, and was liked by many, a fan favorite. Lastly, he
    was globally marketed; countries that do not even have a basketball league
    would have people know who Michael Jordan was. Michael Jordan was one of the
    few athletes who have made themselves a remembrance to the game of basketball.

  • Joe Aswell

    Typical “explanation” from a man who is just simply jealous of Michael Jordan. Kevin McHale a greater player than Michael Jordan?? Are you serious John Salley? Are you insane? Doesn’t matter, your opinion holds about as much credibility as my pinky toenail. Thanks for the laugh!

  • SassyPants

    Bro, you can’t say by far when you have Wilt Chamberlain, who they had to change the rules for, averaging 50 and 25 for a season, then chose to lead the league in assists for kicks. I mean, cmon. And I do think that there is something to Larry Bird, being an all-around better passer and rebounder. Jordan probably better, but not by much, along with Magic.

  • Jonny Deaf

    Being form Boston, I go with Magic as the best I ever saw. Jordan has ZERO competition for his titles. The Bulls beat no one for a title: Jazz, Suns, Blazers, and Sonics, all have won zero NBA titles and zero conference titles since losing to the Bulls. In other words, they were one off lucky, like the Nets, the Arizona Cardinals, the Colorado Rockies, and the Vancouver Canucks – teams that advanced to the finals because someone has to advance.

    Magic beat the 76ers (1 NBA title in the same era), the Celtics (3 NBA titles), and the Pistons (2 titles). He also lost in finals to the Celtics, 76ers, Pistons, and the Bulls.

    And after losing to the Bulls, the LAA disappear for four seasons, falling below .500. So, even MJ can get too much credit for beating a worn out, old team. All of Magics wins were against vibrant talented clubs that would win NBA titles against Magic in future years. In other words, he played against all-time great NBA teams. Teams that made the finals more than 3 times each in the same era.

    So to sum up – Magic defeated three teams that were in 11 NBA finals in a row. MJs “competition” was an aged and soon-to-fall-apart franchise, followed by four teams that had not reach an NBA final in the ten years before playing Jordan’s Bulls, nor ever since.

    An additional note – without Bird’s win over Magic, I’d say Bird’s career would be less, as the wins over the Rockets are kind of, eh. The 1981 Rockets were a sub .500 team. Of course, when you beat LA in ’84, then you got something on your resume…and I”m white, Irish, and from Boston. Even I can see Magic was the greater than MJ and Bird.


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