From Rob Schaefer of nbcchicago.com:
From being selected four picks apart in the 2003 NBA Draft, to winning two championships with the Miami Heat, to famously “Banana Boating”together in the 2015 offseason, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James go way back.
So it’s no surprise that the popular debate topic of who the greatest basketball player of all time (a.k.a “GOAT”) is — between James and Michael Jordan — came up quickly during Wade’s recent appearance on the I Am Athlete podcast (11:05 mark):
LeBron is one of my good friends. I have so much respect for what he’s doing now, what he’s done and what he will eventually do, because he’s not done yet,” Wade said on the podcast. “It will definitely be an argument that will need to be had. If LeBron James ends up the No. 1 scorer of all-time, top five in assists and top five in rebounds — and have four, five or six championships — you can not do nothing but have the conversation of who is the greatest of all time.”
To Wade’s point on James’ statistics, LeBron currently ranks third all-time in points (35,283, with 3,105 more necessary to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for No. 1), eighth all-time in assists (9,669) and seventh all-time in minutes played (49,938). All those figures get even gaudier when including his myriad deep postseason runs, multiple of which he and Wade embarked on together.
And, as Wade notes, he’s still going strong. Before suffering a high ankle sprain, James was a legitimate MVP candidate in Year 18 and at age 36. He’s fresh off a fourth championship and, when healthy, his Lakers have a solid chance at repeating.
It’s a formidable case. But nothing is moving Wade, a Chicago native, off of Jordan as being the greatest of all time.
“I come from a Jordan era. I am biased and I’m going to be biased until the day I pass away. Michael Jordan will be my GOAT,” Wade continued. “I’m not taking anything away from LeBron. LeBron is amazing. But Michael Jordan is my GOAT.”
Later, he added: “He (LeBron) will be the GOAT for a lot of generations. I started playing the game because of Michael Jordan. He will be my GOAT until the day I pass away…
“For me, from Chicago, where I grew up, I made it out the hood because I seen a dude, No. 23, play the game of basketball at a level that I was like, ‘I just want to do some of that.'”
Hard to argue with any points there, and it goes without scratching Jordan’s lengthy list of accolades, including but far from limited to six NBA championships and five MVP awards.
While Wade stressed that his opinion isn’t a personal reflection against LeBron, one’s GOAT is personal to their individual basketball experience.
“To me, it doesn’t take anything away from LeBron. LeBron will be the GOAT of this generation that watched him grow up, just like we watched Michael Jordan grow,” Wade said. “Bron’s my guy. But Jordan’s my GOAT.”