LeBron James said Saturday that while he was humbled by Bulls great Scottie Pippen saying the Miami Heat superstar "may be the greatest player to ever play the game," there was no way he believed he was better than Michael Jordan.
Pippen, Jordan’s longtime teammate, raised eyebrows Friday morning with his comments on ESPN Radio’s "Mike and Mike in the Morning," and drew a fierce response on Twitter, as many fans were incredulous at the perceived slight toward Jordan.
Pippen clarified Friday afternoon, tweeting that he does not believe James has eclipsed Jordan — yet.
"Don’t get me wrong, MJ was and is the greatest. But LeBron could by all means get to his level someday," said Pippen, who was courtside for the Heat’s five-game Eastern Conference finals triumph as a Bulls TV analyst.
After practice Saturday at Miami’s American Airlines Arena, James told reporters, "Michael is an unbelievable player [but] I have a long way, a long way, as far as being mentioned as one of the all-time greats.
"It’s not even just Jordan. There are a lot of great players who have played in this league, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and all these guys who are floating around with multiple rings, Bill Russell, all these guys who have done it and pioneered this game for myself and [Dwyane] Wade.
"I’m gracious, humbled by Scottie’s comments, especially with him being a teammate of his and seeing Michael on a day-to-day basis, but as far as me, I don’t know. I’m not going to sit here and say that I’m better than Jordan. I’m not better than Jordan."
In his original comments, Pippen, who won six NBA titles alongside Jordan, said his former teammate "is probably the greatest scorer to play the game, but I may go as far as to say LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game because he is so potent offensively that not only can he score at will but he keeps everybody involved."
He added, "No guy on the basketball court is not a threat to score with LeBron James out there. Not only will LeBron dominate from the offensive end as well, but he’s also doing it on the defensive end, which really makes him the complete package. He’s able to get in those passing lanes, shoot those gaps and create transition opportunities where he is pretty much unstoppable."