The current debate in basketball on who's better, LeBron James or Michael Jordan, leaves out someone. Or, so says Pat Riley.
At an American Express-sponsored discussion at the Conga Room in Los Angeles Monday night, Riley shared the stage with Magic Johnson and called him the "greatest player of all time."
Pat Riley on Magic Johnson: "He's the greatest player of all time."— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) June 6, 2017
Riley says that what made Johnson so great was how he played with the pieces around him with those Los Angeles Lakers teams of the 1980s.
He made the comparison of Johnson and James, which he seems to believe is more accurate than comparing James to Jordan.
"LeBron is the closest thing to Earvin that we've ever seen because of his size, his speed, his acceleration, his vision — everything that he can do. He just had more pressure on him to have to score all the time," Riley said. "He has a mentality of being a scorer. (Johnson) could've scored 30 points a game if he wanted to. And we could've won."
Riley said that one of Johnson's best games in the playoffs was one that he went 0-of-3 from the floor, but had big numbers in assists, rebounds and free throws.
"He didn't have to score because of Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) and James (Worthy) and everyone else we had," Riley said. "He was a winner. LeBron is a winner. But the way that LeBron plays the game now — coast to coast, handles the ball, runs the offense — it's just like Earvin. I mean, same mold. Same DNA. They're winners."
Johnson then chimed in, "That's why he's the best player." Which drew laughter and applause from the crowd. "He has it and it just rubs off. He's just special."