Former Detroit "Bad Boy" Pistons big man Bill Laimbeer said he believes Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is the greatest player of all-time — over his ex-rival Michael Jordan.
As Jordan's 1997-98 Chicago Bulls championship team is thrust back in the national spotlight ahead of "The Last Dance" documentary airing Sunday, former rivals have been making the television rounds to discuss MJ's legacy as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
Laimbeer, who coaches the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces, said Tuesday in an appearance on ESPN's "First Take" he doesn't even see a debate.
"I'm very vocal on this. I think LeBron is the best player who has ever played the game," Laimbeer said. "He's 6-foot-8, 285 pounds, runs like the wind, jumps out of the gym. … At the end of the day, I firmly believe he's the best basketball player in the history of the game."
“I firmly believe that [LeBron James] is the best basketball player in the history of the game.”
Former “Bad Boy” Piston, and Michael Jordan opponent, Bill Laimbeer. pic.twitter.com/9aTQgnW3n4
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Laimbeer's Pistons stood in the way of Jordan's Bulls in the late 1980s before Chicago broke through to win two three-peats of NBA championships in the 1990s. Detroit's blue-collar style earned them the nickname "Bad Boy" Pistons and Laimbeer was notably one of the biggest bruisers on the team, often throwing elbows, punches and getting suspended dozens of times during his 14-year career. Detroit won the NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.
Laimbeer said Jordan's Bulls were beatable in his heyday because they were a "one-man show" before the five-time MVP learned to lean on his teammates. He cited that as a reason why James is better, presenting as a more selfless and team-oriented star.
WNBA basketball head coach Bill Laimbeer talks with reporters after a practice Thursday, May 21, 2015, in Tarrytown, N.Y. (Photo: Seth Wenig, AP)
"More importantly, when (LeBron) came in the league from Day 1, he knew how to involve his teammates to win," Laimbeer said. "That's something Jordan had to learn for a long time."
Often in the debate for best of all-time, Jordan's six NBA championships outweigh James' three.
"Now if you go by championships, obviously Michael Jordan has more championships," Laimbeer noted. "But I think LeBron in any generation would be doing what he's doing right now all these years."
Laimbeer had his jersey retired by the Pistons in 1995 and remains the franchise's all-time leader in career rebounds. He's been the WNBA coach of the year twice and won three WNBA titles with the Detroit Shock.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.
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