Isiah Thomas may be just a tad biased, considering Michael Jordan spent much of his Hall of Fame career leaving the longtime Detroit Pistons point guard in the dust — and is rumored to have been behind Thomas’ exclusion from the 1992 Dream Team — but for what it’s worth, Thomas says he’d take LeBron James over the Chicago Bulls legend, assuming both are in their primes.
And they’d come in at Nos. 2 and 3 behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“For me, I look at the total body of work, what LeBron James is as a basketball player, and if I had to pick one over the other, right now I’m picking LeBron James over Michael Jordan,” Thomas said on NBATV on Monday night. “Because Jordan would beat you scoring, but this guy beats you at everything. He rebounds, he assists, he gets everybody involved. And he’s bigger, he’s faster, he’s stronger.”
— NBA TV (@NBATV) March 19, 2018
Another reason to take Thomas’ opinion with a shaker of salt: He’s proven to be one of the more miserable team builders in the history of the NBA.
The New York Knicks went 39-43 in 2003-04, hiring Thomas to be their president of basketball operations in December of that season. By 2007-08, they had the highest payroll in the league by almost $30 million, and had the worst record in the NBA at 23-59.
Assembly of that miserable squad included trading what’d end up the No. 2 overall pick of the 2006 draft and the No. 9 overall pick of the 2007 draft — who’d become LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah — for Eddy Curry and No. 23 (Wilson Chandler) in 2007. And that came after Thomas signed Jerome James, who like Curry was an overweight center who couldn’t play any other position, to a $30 million contract. He also included the pick that’d become Gordon Hayward in a trade that netted Stephon Marbury. And beyond all that, a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment on Thomas’ part cost MSG $11.5 million.
The irony is that Thomas is actually a proficient drafter, selecting Tracy McGrady at No. 9 in 1997 at the helm of the Toronto Raptors and taking an All-Star in David Lee at No. 30 in 2005.
He just never seemed to grasp the value of draft picks or, apparently, players with years of service in the NBA.