Michael Jordan has any number of things to do after selling the Charlotte Hornets for $3 billion, and one of those is apparently texting ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith before sunrise.
The topic that grabbed the NBA legend’s attention was raised when Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry made an appearance on Gilbert Arenas’ podcast, “Gil’s Arena,” which was published Monday. When asked point-blank if he is the greatest point guard ever, Curry paused for a moment, then said, “Yes.”
That came up on the next day’s “First Take” on ESPN, and Smith agreed with Curry being the greatest point guard ever over Magic Johnson — in many more words.
Among the people to see Smith’s argument was Jordan. On Wednesday, Smith revealed that Jordan had texted him at 5:54 that morning with a polite but forceful rebuttal in favor of Johnson being the better point guard, which he asked Smith to read aloud on the air. Which Smith did. Obviously.
Here’s Jordan’s full, 146-word message:
“Good morning, sir. Although greatest of anything is always a debate, I beg to differ on greatest point guard of all time, with what you said. Magic Johnson is easily the best point guard of all time. Steph Curry is very close but not in front of Magic. You must define point guard to really have a serious debate.
“Steph Curry is by far the best shooter of all time. Yes, his movement has created many shots for his teammates. He’s a career 43% 3-point shooter. But Magic Johnson invented the triple-double. Not true invented, but makes it more noticeable in terms of the impact on the game. It’s a point guard stat, to be honest.
“Magic was the best. We can go on, but I don’t want to take up too much of your time. I know you get the point. By the way, Magic has five NBA championships.”
There is a lot going on there, but one thing left unsaid is that Jordan played in the NBA during Johnson’s prime and defeated him in the 1991 NBA Finals for his first championship. Players usually side with the guys they played against.
Jordan’s argument is pretty fair, as was Smith’s. That’s essentially the nature of the topic at hand.
Magic Johnson vs. Stephen Curry is a debate with no easy answer
Obviously, the Johnson vs. Curry debate makes it extremely difficult to land on an objectively correct answer, especially when one of those players is still active.
They might’ve played the same position, but they are completely different players — Johnson a 6-foot-9 mismatch with some of the best court vision and passing ever, plus the physicality to play center in the NBA Finals, and Curry the undisputed greatest shooter ever and an unsolvable spacing problem.
Both players had enormous impacts on the game of basketball. You could argue they are two of the five most influential players ever, between Johnson’s Showtime Lakers bringing unprecedented attention to an NBA that was struggling and Curry being patient zero of the modern 3-point explosion. It’s not just that they’re products of their era; their eras are products of them.
Jordan points out that Johnson has five NBA championship rings to Curry’s four (you can only wonder why Jordan, who has six rings, would bring that up), but Johnson had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as a teammate for all five of those of championships, plus Hall of Famers James Worthy, Jamaal Wilkes and more for many of them. It’s also worth mentioning that Johnson could’ve won more had his career not been derailed by an HIV diagnosis when he was 31.
Meanwhile, Curry has had Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, all likely Hall of Famers. It probably isn’t a coincidence that the two easiest answers for the GOAT point guard had multiple Hall of Fame-caliber teammates, but it goes to show how nebulous this conversation is.