According to analyst Bill Simmons, Michael Jordan is only releasing "The Last Dance," a sports documentary mini-series detailing his final season in Chicago, to protect his legacy as the 'GOAT' over LeBron James.
With LeBron legitimizing his case as the greatest of all time over the past few years, especially with his legendary title run in 2016 over the 73-9 Warriors, NBA circles have revived the GOAT debate to seriously consider whether LeBron is a true contender or not. Simmons claims that the release of this documentary is Jordan's attempt to erase any doubt that he is the best in history.
In 2009, NBA Entertainment had behind-the-scenes videos of Jordan's final season with the Bulls in the 1997-98 season, but Jordan was against making a documentary at the time.
"Jordan never wanted it, and I think, you know what happened in the middle of the decade, especially after LeBron won that Cavs title, when things really started to shift and all of a sudden there was a Jordan versus LeBron argument, I think for the first time Jordan and his camp realized, 'Oh, we've got to protect our legacy here.'"
Should Jordan be worried about his GOAT status? Despite the NBA media pushing this debate to the forefront over the past five years or so, the issue isn't as hotly contested as ESPN would portray it to be.
According to the opinion of both fans and current NBA players, Michael Jordan is still overwhelmingly the victor in this debate. One Business Insider poll surveying over 1,000 NBA fans found that 66% of respondents believe Jordan is the greatest.
The Athletic surveyed 117 NBA players in 2019, and the results were similar; 73% of players said Jordan was the greatest of all time.
Ultimately, the GOAT discussion is centered around fans and players. In sports circles, fans are the ones who are capable of driving a narrative for the general audience, and that couldn't be more true with this debate.
Since there is no way to fairly measure two players from different eras, the answer to the GOAT discussion is very subjective. In other words, we will never objectively know if Jordan was better than LeBron, but we can still discuss who we believe to be the greatest of all time. And according to fans and players, the answer seems to be MJ.
If that's the case, Jordan has nothing to worry about.
Preview photo credit: ESPN, @espn Twitter