Two GOATS? Michael Jordan and LeBron James. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Two GOATS? Michael Jordan and LeBron James. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Report: MJ denial angered LeBron

A report out of New York attempts to shed light on LeBron James' surprise declaration he's the greatest basketball player of all time.

James was criticised by several basketball greats after he said on an episode of More Than an Athlete - an eight-part series he produced in partnership with ESPN examining his career - his win against Golden State in the 2016 finals validated his belief he was the best to ever play.

"I was super, super ecstatic to win one for Cleveland because of the 52-year drought," James said. "The first wave of emotion was when everyone saw me crying, like, that was all for 52 years of everything in sports that's gone on in Cleveland.

"And then after I stopped, I was like ... that one right there made you the greatest player of all time."

NBA legends Kevin McHale and Isiah Thomas were among those who slammed James' arrogance.

"That's disrespectful to Bill Russell ... Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ... Michael (Jordan) ... Larry (Bird) and Magic (Johnson)," McHale said. "You don't need to say that about yourself. Let other people say that for you.

"It's disrespectful to other players who came before you that were great, great players. You can't compare eras ... I didn't like the way that sounded."

"There's a certain thing about greatness," Thomas added. "That demands that you have humility ... I have never heard Michael Jordan say he's the greatest of all time - even though he may think that. You just don't come out and say that."

New York Post columnist Richard Johnson claims James' braggadocio came after Jordan refused a request to use video of His Airness for a documentary, which James executive produced with Maverick Carter.

Without the Jordan footage, the film about the 1984 NBA draft, in which Jordan was selected third, had to be changed, and it became a three-part documentary about the civic activism of basketball players, "Shut Up and Dribble,'' which Showtime aired in November.

Sources told Johnson that's why King James said what he said.

"LeBron was pissed at Michael Jordan - that's why he lashed out," one source told Johnson. "They hate each other - these two camps."

An artist’s impression of what it would have looked like if they faced off in their primes.
An artist’s impression of what it would have looked like if they faced off in their primes.

Jordan's camp didn't respond to requests for comment, but James' adviser Adam Mendelsohn denied the rejection of the request for Jordan footage was an issue: "LeBron has absolutely zero problem with Michael Jordan controlling his content, and didn't even know it was requested."

Jordan is producing a 10-part documentary on his basketball career - totalling six championships - using wall-to-wall video that NBA Entertainment recorded during 1997-1998, his final season on the Chicago Bulls.

An NBA insider told the Post, "LeBron's people wanted an extensive amount of footage of Michael, and the league said, 'You have to ask Michael.' And his people said 'no.'"

Following in Jordan's footsteps, camera crews have been following LeBron this season documenting his relocation to the Los Angeles Lakers. No one will be allowed to use that video without James' permission.

But the NBA insider doesn't think the two superstars hate each other: "I think LeBron and Michael have fun with it."

Meantime, Shaquille O'Neal has weighed in on the GOAT debate saying it "pisses him off" his former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant isn't a real part of the discussion.

"I find it quite disrespectful that they don't bring Kobe's name up," O'Neal told Bleacher Report.

"That kind of pisses me off how they just skip over him and say, 'LeBron.' I don't understand that. Because I was there with him, and he was a bad motherf*****, too."

- with New York Post