BOSTON (CBS) — With “The Last Dance” — ESPN’s epic 10-part series on Michael Jordan — concluding Sunday night, NBA fans are reminiscing about Jordan’s incredible impact on the NBA. He remains one of the biggest names in all of sports, even though he hasn’t taken a shot in an NBA game in over 15 years.
For generations young and old, there never was and never will be another Michael. When it comes to debating the “Greatest Of All Time” to ever take the hardwood, it usually begins and ends with Michael, though there are a few options thrown out from time to time. Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and LeBron James usually get a few votes here and there to keep things interesting.
Cedric Maxwell is firmly entrenched in the latter camp, with the Celtics radio analyst bullish when it comes to naming Jordan the NBA’s GOAT. Max joined Steve Burton on Sunday night’s Sports Final on WBZ, and had no desire to put Jordan at the top of the NBA mountain.
“You would have thought Michael Jordan won every game in every series he played in,” said Max. “LeBron James never got beat in the first round — Michael Jordan did. Jordan has lost, and fans are surprised by that… The Celtics used to beat him, Philly used to beat him. I don’t think he really made that jump until Year 7, 8 or 9.”
Jordan was an All-Star in each of his first nine NBA seasons, winning three of his five NBA MVPs in that span. More importantly, he had claimed three of his six NBA titles in that nine-year span, earning MVP honors in each of those series victories.
Sour grapes on Max’s part? He doesn’t think so.
“I’m telling the truth, that’s all it is. They’re saying Michael Jordan is the greatest ever, and I think he’s among the greatest ever. But I’m not calling him the greatest ever,” he said.
While Max didn’t name his own personal GOAT, he did float a few options. He won’t find many arguments in Boston about one of them, but the other… may raise some eyebrows.
“I look at other guys; Bill Russell, who won 11 championships, eight in a row, one as a player-coach. Is he the greatest of all-time?” pondered Max. “I look at Hakeem Olajuwon, who controlled more of the game than any player has ever done in the NBA.”
Max, a two-time NBA champ and NBA Finals MVP with the Celtics in 1981, is holding firm in his beliefs.
“Michael Jordan was a great player, no doubt about it. But I think he’s among the greats,” said Max. “It depends who you are. I’m not taking a shot at Jordan, I’m just saying how I feel.”
Celtics fans love Max, but he’s going to need a lot of napkins to wipe this one away.