The first installment of the Old School vs. New School debate took a look at the Atlantic Division, where other than potentially Carmelo Anthony (which at this point in his career would be a stretch) there are no current players who are arguably the greatest in their respective team’s history.
When it comes to sports, one debate that is often never solved is the one comparing players from different generations. Would Player X beat Player Y in a one on one game? What if Jordan played under today’s rules? Or could Lebron handle the more physical game of the 80’s and 90’s? Let’s put a bit of a different spin on the conversation and take a look at whether today’s greatest star for each team could overtake the greatest star from his team’s past.
Factors for evaluation are as such: individual statistics, individual awards, fan following (jersey sales, etc.), team success (wins, championships, etc.). Considerations are based on the player’s time with the specific team, not their whole career. The other important factor is how long the player has been with the team. It is not fair to say that Jordan was the greatest Washington Wizard (Bullet), even though he was arguably the greatest/most popular player in league history. So to fairly evaluate, individuals must have put in a minimum of five years with the team. Now, let’s look at the Central Division.
Chicago Bulls – Michael Jordan (13 seasons 1984-93 & 94-98, Hall of Fame, 6 championships, 6 Finals MVP’s, 5 MVP’s, Rookie Of The Year, 12 All-Star Games, NBA 50 Team, Bulls All-Time Points/Assists/Rebounds/Steals leader, #23 retired) vs. Derrick Rose (7 seasons 2008-present, 1 MVP, Rookie Of The Year, 3 All-Star Games)
Derrick Rose was fun to watch in his prime. And as the youngest MPV in NBA history, he might have been able to offer something more if he hadn’t had his knees get shredded. But is there really any chance that he was ever going to take over the G.O.A.T. title from Michael Jordan?
Cleveland Cavaliers – Mark Price (9 seasons, 1986-95, 4 All-Star Games, #25 retired) vs. LeBron James (9 seasons, 2003-10 & 2014-present, 7 All-Star Games, 2 MVP, Rookie Of The Year, Cavs All-Time Points/Assists/Steals leader)
There is a good chance that by the time James’ career is done in Cleveland, whether that be sooner or later, that Mark Price will still be part of a select club that even King James will not be a member of. As one of only six players in NBA history to hit 50-40-90% in a season, Price accomplished the feat during the 1988-89 season. Other than that the greatest Cavalier title was pretty much given to the Akron native even before he put on an NBA jersey. Even if James had decided to stay in South Beach or taken his talents elsewhere in the league, he would still rule the state of Ohio.
Detroit Pistons – Isiah Thomas (13 seasons, 1981-94, Hall of Fame, 2 Championships, 1 Finals MVP, 12 All-Star Games, NBA 50 Team, Pistons All-Time Points/Assists/Steals leader, #11 retired) and Joe Dumars (14 seasons, 1985-99, Hall of Fame, 2 Championships, 1 Finals MVP, 6 All-Star Games, #4 retired) vs. ???
At this point, there are no members of the current Pistons roster who have been with the team for five or more years. Even if such was the case, it is very unlikely that one would unseat either of the Hall of Fame guard duo.
Indiana Pacers – Reggie Miller (18 seasons, 1987-05, Hall of Fame, 1 Championship Appearance, 5 All-Star Games, Pacers All-Time Points leader, #31 retired) vs. Paul George (6 seasons, 2010-present, 2 All-Star Games,)
If George had not fallen to injury during the summer of 2014 and had he stayed with the Pacers for the duration of his career, there is a slim chance that he may have been able to knock off Mr. Miller as the greatest Pacer of all time. While he still has time, George would have to bring Indiana the one thing that Miller was unable to accomplish during his 18 years: a championship ring. And even at that, the chances are that one would not be enough.
Milwaukee Bucks – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6 seasons, 1969-75, 1 Championship, 1 Finals MVP, 3 MVP’s, 6 All-Stars, Rookie Of The Year, Bucks All Time Leading Scorer/Rebounder, #33 Retired) and Sidney Moncrief (10 seasons, 1979-90, 5 All-Star Games, #4 retired) vs. ???
*Honorable Mention – Bob Dandridge, Marques Johnson, Glenn Robinson
As with the Detroit Pistons, the Milwaukee Bucks current roster does not have any players who have been with the team for at least five years. Considering that Cap was the leader of the only Bucks team to claim a championship, it would be hard for someone to outdo him. While Moncrief did not post the individual stats or have the same team success, his tenure in Milwaukee was among one of the best in team history.