Tuesday , Dec , 16 , 2008 J.N.

Who’s been the most physically talented NBA player within the past 2 decades? Is this just a Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James battle?


Who's been the most physically talented NBA player within the past 2 decades? Is this just a Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James battle?This is not about being the best player and what they achieved. If it was, this person would be His Airness hands down. In this particular argument, however, Michael Jordan isn’t the clear cut winner. This is about who has the most physical gifts.

The prerequisites to qualify:
– The player has been an All Star for credibility purposes; proven that he’s good.
– Player has at least 5 years of NBA experience; got to eliminate new guys such as Derrick Rose, Rudy Gay, and Tyrus Thomas because they do not have a large body of work. Guys from 2004 draft qualify because they’re in the 5th year.
– Player has to be uber athletic and prototypical or player is revolutionary at their positions.
– Having versatility is a plus.
– Having vertical is another plus.

Under the prerequisites, these are the candidates that I think are the most worthy:

  • Shawn Kemp – When he was in Seattle. The Reign Man ruled the airwaves when the Sonics actually existed. This man is a 6-10 power forward with the athletic ability and handles of a swing man combined with the power of a center.
  • Magic Johnson – Body of a 6-9 power forward with the skills of a pure point guard. He was a mismatch every single game. Magic can play all 5 positions; only player to do so.
  • LeBron James – Has the physique and strength of an NFL linebacker, but with the speed and abilities of a wing player. James is extremely versatile that can play the power forward position.
  • Vince Carter – A very explosive 6-6 guard who can jump out of buildings. Regarded as the best dunker of all time as he twists, torques, and spins his way to the basket with reckless abandon during his Toronto days AKA “Gangsta Vince, Boyz N The Hood Vince Carter.”
  • Michael Jordan – Hang time. Need I say more?
  • Kobe Bryant – He was able to mimic Michael Jordan just fine, but without having the flight.
  • Shaquille O’Neal – He is physically dominant. When we see a 300+ pound, 7-1 foot center doing a 360 dunk in an All Star game, you know he’s physically gifted.
  • Dwight Howard – See 2008 Dunk Contest. See also Dwight get up to get blocks and rebounds.
  • Dominique Wilkins – The Human Highlight Film throws the meanest windmill I’ve ever seen to this day. He’s also the most exciting tip-in dunker. This man can score and get to the cup in a myriad of ways.
  • Kevin Garnett – He’s versatile as fuck. A power forward that has guard skills. His lanky frame and wingspan creates frustration for whoever is guarding him and whoever is going up against him on offense.
  • Clyde Drexler – The Glide dunked from the free throw line in traffic during a game against Magic’s Lakers.
  • Allen Iverson – He’s always attacking the basket. And he’s usually scoring. The greatest little man scorer we’ve ever witnessed using every inch of his body to get buckets.
  • Scottie Pippen – The very first true prototype of the modern day small forward. When standing straight, his hands touched his knees. Combined that with the nimbleness he displayed with his feet, that ability made Dirk Nowitzki jealous. God blessed Pip with the length to defend anyone except Jamal Mashburn.He can also palm the ball like MJ.

Honorable mentions: Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury, Hakeem The Dream, and Rasheed Wallace.

Each of Flagrant Foul’s 13 makes a serious case to be the most physically gifted baller within the past 2 decades. For me personally, it’s going to come down to two men.

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James.

Why not Shaq, KG or Dwight you say? They’re bigger than both of them!

Answer: They’re not as versatile or fast as either man. No can do.

Air Jordan had this uncanny ability to get baskets no matter how many men were defending the basket. Any little hole, glimpse of daylight…he’ll find it…and score out of nowhere. It wouldn’t be possible if he didn’t have hang time. This unique "hanging" ability, coupled with the massive catcher mitts he possesses, separate him from every single player on that list. Every single player. For every kid that didn’t get to watch MJ from 1984-1993, I feel sorry for you because those were the true Air Jordan years. He was fast AND quick. He had supreme reflexes and God given body control.

LeBron James was chiseled out of Greek gods. At 6-8, 240 pounds of pure muscle, he physically dominates alot of players even Michael Jordan except for Dwight Howard, Shawn Kemp, Shaq, Magic, and Kevin Garnett. Regardless, he has size, strength, AND full court speed. In a post up game, Mike will have a problem guarding him. He gets buckets his own way by slashing and giving contact at the same time. It’s not finesse like MJ or Kobe. It’s more bruising because he’s so big and strong.

So who’s the more physically gifted between the two? MJ or LBJ?

I’ve seen MJ’s entire career. I’ve seen alot of James up to this point. Both men can get to the paint and toy with anyone, at will. Both men are physically unique in their own way. At this point, size is not a huge advantage on LeBron’s side because MJ has ridiculous wingspan himself; still an advantage for LeBron, but a minute one. In a pure basketball sense, I can see how people say, "Hey look, it’s hard to choose over a 2 inch, 35 pound advantage."

Try to look deeper. Both men are fast so speed = speed. Both men can do anything on the court.

LeBron just doesn’t have the special "hang time" contained within his legs that Michael had and the massive hands. Admit it. LeBron doesn’t handle the ball in mid-air like MJ does.  Those ultra rare physical gifts are the stuff that make MJ extremely special; one of a kind.

Flagrant Foul’s pick of the more physically gifted player between LeBron and MJ is….

Food for thought: Despite being blessed with awesome physical tools, LeBron James has not reached the reputation of a great scary defender that MJ reached.

Agree or disagree? Write down who you believe is the most physically gifted specimen in the NBA. Was it Kobe? Was it LeBron? Was it someone on the list? Was it someone who is not listed such as Dennis Rodman? Follow the criteria. Post your thoughts.

[image:http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/2447793602/]