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While arguments can be (and have been) made for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and other NBA greats, the modern debate over who is the greatest since the NBA began has been boiled down to MJ vs. LeBron.
The two never met on the court; Jordan retired for the third and final time (as a Washington Wizard), two months before the Cleveland Cavaliers made James the No. 1 overall pick in 2003. They’ve dominated the NBA discourse for the better part of four decades, ranking first and second in playoff points scored (LeBron over MJ) and Finals MVPs (MJ over LeBron). Their names are all over the NBA record books in just about every category.
So with apologies to legendary boxer Muhammad Ali — who claimed “greatest” status for himself and popularized the acronym — here is everything you need to know about who might be the NBA’s GOAT.
We asked our ESPN Forecast panel a series of questions to get at