NBA / Jun 8, 2011 / 5:00 pm

Oscar Robertson Says Michael Jordan Wasn’t The Best Ever

Oscar Robertson

How annoyed are some of the NBA’s older generations about all of this talk on GOATs and Best Evers only including Michael Jordan and LeBron James? Ask Oscar Robertson about it.

Well, the Dan Sileo Show did and as expected, the Big O had other ideas.

The Sporting News writes:

“I didn’t hear the comments,” Robertson told the Dan Sileo Show on WDAE in Tampa Wednesday morning. “Let me tell you about what being great is. Ever hear of Elgin Baylor? Never mention his name, do we? Great basketball player. You know what you have today? Michael Jordan was a great player, but he won after Chicago got Pippen, Grant and those other players to go along with him, because for a while they couldn’t beat Detroit.

“Everybody looks at what you’ve done. Sure he won six championships, Russell won eleven. There are other players on these teams when they play. They don’t play by themselves. Michael Jordan is a great player. Was he the greatest? Ask Kobe that. Ask Bill Russell. Ask Oscar Robertson. Ask Wilt Chamberlain. Ask Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, ask those guys.”

Robertson went on to say that he does not think MJ is the greatest ever and that the people doing the anointing never saw many of the game’s best play.

What do you think?

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  • jace

    good point. i say.. ask all the living legends.. all the greats to play the game wut they think.

    im in my 20s.. so all i kno is mj.. i never got the chance to see bill russell and wilt chamberlain play.

    but the fact of the matter is.. there is no right or wrong answer.. too many factors go into deciding how to rank these people.. basketball was different then.. different 10 years ago.. different now.

  • TheOtherJFK

    I think if you are talking about the GOAT it has to come down to Russel, Oscar, and MJ. Russel has the rings, Oscar had the overall game, but NO ONE ever transcended the game quite like MJ.

    Can’t fault MJ for his teammates either. How many HOFs did Russel play with? Plus Oscar didn’t get his ‘chip until after he teamed up with Kareem. Not to mention Oscar left the University of Cincinnati in 1960, only to have the Bearcats win the chip in 61 and 62 and nearly again in 63.

  • Marci

    MJ=GOAT! ’nuff said.

  • Juan

    Looks to me that lebron didn’t win his first championship until he teamed up with mike bibby.

  • SoulChorea

    Lebron won his first championship? Word? lol…but yeah, Oscar was probably ridiculous in his day…but Jordan transcended EVERYTHING.

  • George W Kush Sr

    Oh please, its MJ all day erry’day.

  • heckler

    no wrong answer to this question.
    because there is no way to simply define “GREATEST EVER”.
    there are so many variables and moving parts.

    But to me, greatness just means have the impact. Impace on the game, team, competion and league.

    All of those guys had mega impact.
    championships (in my mind) will never mean 1 player is greater than another. sheeeeit, if thats the case, Horace Grant is on the same level as Timmy Duncan. and Horace Grants trumps Charles Barkley and Karl Malone.

    Magic Johnson has gotta be in the conversation too.
    Magic (and his teams) were so great, that he LOST in the finals 4 times.
    think about that. Magic Johnson has 5 championships. But he LOST in the finals 4 other times.
    do that math kiddies. 9 times he played in the NBA finals. NINE.
    Jordan only 6. and had MJ not retired early on, 8 would have still been his max.
    Magic Johnson played in NINE NBA Finals.
    talk about great.

    of the great players in the league now….I bet NONE of them get to the finals NINE times; and certainly not in a 12yr stretch.

    …and if not for Ralph Sampson, Magic would have had 10 (count em TEN) finals appearances…


  • Ian

    well jordan played in an era when it was easier to reach everyone in the world. it happens in everything even music imagine if a dude like elvis or the beatles had the same advantages michael jackson had. now i kinda agree with oscar mj isnt the goat imo but like some of you guys have said theres no right or wrong answer.

  • http://dimemag.com mjlover

    Even Magic has called Jordan the GOAT…

  • JBaller

    I like the realism here. I agree that there is no way to actually determine who’s the goat, but I’m pretty sure It’s not a two man race. I think a top ten is possible with enough data, but #1 will still be subjective.


  • MadSammyboy

    People need to get off LeBron’s back. Jordan had plenty of 8-point performances in the Finals. Of course, Jordan called them ‘quarters’.

  • Johhny Boi

    Respect to all the greats, but if I had to chose the greatest…Elgin Baylor nuff said. Mj and Oscar and Wilt are realy close behind him

  • matt

    These r my top 10 ever(in no specific orderMJ,Kobe,Magic,Bird,Duncan,Shaq,Hakeem,Kareem,Wilt,Russell. On the outside looking in:J.West,Big 0,Pippen,Havlicek,Cousy,Baylor. LBJ is in the next tier.

  • Brown

    I look at it like this, if we have an all-time fantasy draft, Jordan goes first overall. You can argue for other players going #1, but I’m taking Jordan regardless.

  • D

    if u guys will notice Oscar Robertson did not say ask Lebron, he is an alltime great and is always put in everyones top ten not an idiot like barkley spouting off isn’t caressing anyones top 10 list not a side car like Pippen who’s not any anyones top 10 list this is an undisputable top 10 all time great saying this and he said, “Ask Kobe that. Ask Bill Russell. Ask Oscar Robertson. Ask Wilt Chamberlain. Ask Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, ask those guys”.

  • D

    JBaller says Clyde in your top 10? obvious bias to the point of sounding ignorant that list is meritless and motivated by personal affections rather than stats and accomplishment. Clyde has went on record saying Kobe is the greatest player of this era and the closest that we’ve seen to MJ how can he not be n a top ten list if he has regarded by many as the best player of this era.

  • Mandirigma

    MJ is to the NBA as Hulk Hogan is/was for the WWF/WWE.

    Brought it into the mainstream, made people love the sport entirely.

    But greatest basketball player?

    If you are the centerpiece of a title run, then that’s how you are measured.

    Bill Russel, 11 rings. And he dominated in all 11 too unlike Kareem who rode Magic for his last rings.

    MJ has 6, he dominated, but he’s 5 rings short.

  • D

    @ mjlover says Magic is known for saying some really ridiculous stuff although I would agree MJ is the greatest.

  • http://www.wtf.com Chicagorilla

    You guys are missing the point that Oscar thinks he is the GOAT. And while he is a top all time player, no flucking way would Oscar be able to play in todays game. Hell Oscar wouldn’t have been that good in the 90’s.

    You think a 6’5 guard could avg 12reb a game during the 80’s or 90’s? fluck no.

    What you see in the NBA today as far as talent and number of teams, is not what you saw back in the 50’s/60’s/70’s.

    Bill Russell won 8 chips in a row back when there were only like 10 teams playing… and BLACKS WEREN’t really allowed to play. And seeing as how black people dominate the sport of basketball, that means Wilt, Russell, Oscar, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, and those guys were not playing against the best competition.

    Connie Hawkins was black balled from the NBA for years, and dude had the athletic ability to be a top 10 all time player, but his stats don’t refelct that because he was past his prime when he finally got to play in the NBA.

    from the 80’s until now, you have the best talent, SPREAD THROUGHTOUT the NBA across 25+ teams. Thats how you determine a true champion. MAgic, KAreem, Bird, Zeke, Jordan, Robinson, Shaq, Duncan, Kobe, Wade, and those guys are being put through a much tougher 82 game schedule, plus the playoffs.

    The GOAT DOES NOT mean you scored 50ppg and grabbed 20rpg vs 8 other teams filled with guys 5-6inches shorter and 50lbs lighter than you

    The GOAT DOES NOT mean you won 8 chips in a row, on a team filled with hall of fame players who come off the bench!!!!

    The GOAT DOES NOT mean you avg a triple double vs a bunch of stiffs who would have a hard time getting burn a Division 2 college right now.

    What the GOAT DOES MEAN is you won multiple times you went to the finals.
    –You are the all time leader in ppg/pts scorer/asst/steals/

    –You were defensive player of the year. or at least a multiple 1st team defender

    –MVP multiple times.

    –Had a repeat or 3peat of chips.

    –You were so dominant that they changed the Rules while you were playing (Shaq/Kareem/Wilt).

    –Or better yet, you were so dominant, they changed the rules AFTER YOU RETIRED so someone would have a chance to be able to mimick you (Jordan).

    –Your talent has to transcend time, if you were placed in a different era, could you still produce at the same rate?

    –you had a signature move that was unstoppable (skyhook, fadeaway, turnaround, dreamshake)

    –you were the unquestioned leader of your team

    –You stepped up in big moments. Not just to hit game winners but to lead your team through a tough series/finals to prevail as champions all on your shoulders

    To me ^^^ that is what makes you the goat. and there is only a few people who can claim that.
    Jordan, Shaq, Magic, Bird, Kareem, Hakeem

    Those are really the only guys who can argue they are the GOAT. Russell, Wilt, Oscar, Elgin, West, Dr. J, were all during a different time of the game, those guys were the best for their era, but athletically and physically they couldn’t fluck with the cats after the 80’s. HAd they grew up in the same era as the new guys, then perhaps Dr. J and Wilt would have a chance to be special…maybe even Russell, but the rest would be avg at best.
    The “set shot” era guys would be abused in todays basketball.

  • http://www.wtf.com Chicagorilla


    you are wrong. Russell DID NOT DOMINATE in his 11 finals appearances.
    Hell in 1969 they won the finals but MVP WAS GIVEN TO THE LOSER IN JERRY WEST!!!! The only time that’s ever happened.
    Russell is an all time great defender, arguably the best ever. But He played with 8 or 9 other Hall of Famers in his career. Otherwise, Wilt Chamberlin kicked his ass everytime they played. It’s just that Wilt didn’t have any real good teammates to compete with the rest of Bos. MEn Lie, women lie….Numbers lie too.

    MJ was Finals MVP 6/6 times he went to the finals. and thats while playing alongside top 50 greatest ever Scottie Pippen. Who had some great finals runs in 92 and 93.

  • http://yahoo orlando

    Wilt Had great teammates he had Hal Greer who was a top 50 player… And WTF is Oscar talking about… Elgin Baylor he played with Jerry West.. who is on the bleepin logo.. MJ is the greatest of all time.. Bill Russell played with Bob Cousy HOF, John Halvichek HOF, Tom Hienson HOF, Sam Jones HOF, Bill Sharman HOF.. DF he should’ve won 11 rings.. Not to mention in that era there was no free agency and only 8 teams in an era where there were 6’8 centers.. Wilt Is Shaq plain and simple.. both huge and couldn’t shoot free throws.. Magic is great but lost four times in the finlas and played with Kareem HOF, James Worthy HOF, Bob Macadoo HOF, And real good players like Scott, Wilks, Cooper, AC Green.. Bird also great but played wit McHale HOF, Parish HOF, Johnson HOF.. MJ was the first guard where he was the centerpiece and not a center… MJ = GOAT

  • Diego

    Man, bottom line is if you haven’t seen the guys play in their prime then you can’t say who is GOAT. And also GOAT should not be measured simply or principally on rings. Lots of luck goes into getting a ring any given year. E.g., who will win this year–Heat or Dallas? Who knows?–but one Dirk bad ankle sprain (or stepping in front of a bus) solves it in a hurry.

    I’m older than most dudes here and I can tell you, Kareem was in an absolute league of his own in his prime; Walton really didn’t do didly in the pros except the one year in Portland for the chip; Havlicek was no Larry Bird (not nearly as good); Magic was what LeBron (with his better athleticism) possibly could have been if he wasn’t an egomaniacal, uncoachable douche bag whose talent has kind of gone down since he first entered the league; and players in the mid-70s, 80s, 90s are every bit as good as guys today. I didn’t basically watch pre-mid-70s so I can’t weigh in on guys like Oscar or Wilt, but if you didn’t see them play, then put a lid on it. MJ of the hoops world is as wildly hyped as MJ of the pop music world. There have been a lot of other nice players who just didn’t happen to win the chips, score quite so many points, or pimp so much mens’ underwear.

  • http://www.wtf.com Chicagorilla


    Come on with that BS man. I’m 31yrs old and I have the internet. I also watch more than enough basketball all year round. So during the summer i’m tuned in heavily to ESPN Classic and NBAtv when they show the old games from the 60’s/70’s/80’s.
    And I watch them very very closely. I also watch the games from my era (90’s and up) again just to compare. And you can’t tell me that Connie Hawkins of 75′ could fluck with Larry Johnson of 95! It ain’t happening!!!!

    There is only a couple sports in which the time doesn’t effect the skill. Baseball and Boxing.

    Basketball, Football, Hockey, Track are sports dominated by Athleticism with a combination of skill.

    Boxing and BAseball are all about skill skill skill.

    Basketball is about physical gifts up to a certain point, then it becomes skill.
    I love Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, but put that backcourt in a game vs DWade and Derrick Rose and it’s a fucking wrap for the old timers. They never seen a killercrossver before. They never saw a behind the back dribble into a stepback pull up jumper. They never saw someone their size move at the speed of Wade or Rose, then take off from the middle of the lane for a two handed dunk like Wade/Rose. Think logically, the only way they’d stay close is by playing the old rules, but even that would come back to hurt them as Wade and Rose would be allowed to physically dominate on both ends of the court.

    Wilt was 7’1 and a slender 300lbs. He never needed to develope any skills because he simply backed everyone into the paint (no 3 sec rule at first) and jumped over them for a fingeroll or dunk. He also was 6 inches taller than everyone which makes the game a lot easier.
    He never faced guys his size or athleticism until the 70’s and by then he was too old to fluck with young Kareem or Artis Gilmore or Moses Malone. He was still skilled enough to pass and rebound nicely, but he was far from dominant late in his career when they finally found people to challenge him

    Lets also not forget that Blacks were largely discriminated against before the 80’s. That eliminates a ton of athletes who could have been pretty good in the NBA (NFL and MLB too).

    If Wilt, Earl, and Walt were to be born with the same physical gifts and raised in todays era, then yes they would be great and better than their 60’s/70’s version of themselves. And Wilt may be another Shaq.

  • Mchonos

    Its funny how he says “…ask Kobe” maan if only Lakers were playing in the finals!

  • Fanta Pants

    Boxing does not require athleticism??!!! wtf?

  • http://www.wtf.com Chicagorilla

    @Fanta Pants

    No you idiot. If Boxing require guys to jump high or run fast (that type of athleticism that makes basketball and football players great) then George Foreman would never have won a title. Nither would Tyson, Ali, Frazier, Mayweather, Pac-man, or Roy Jones Jr.

    Boxing is all about skill. Sure you want your hands to be fast and that plays a big part, but that is the sorta thing that transcends time. Sugar Ray Robinson had very fast hands, Ali had extremely fast hands to the point where there hasn’t been a heavy weight yet that could duplicate his hand speed at that size with the skill.

    So no, Boxing is not centered around Running and Jumping athleticism, it’s centered around skill, footwork and coordination.

    So either you were trying to be a smartass and secretly include other things as athleticism or you were just being a fucking retard. Either way, you should probably STFU cause you just got shitted on. hahahahhaha

  • 2 Easy

    I cosign almost everything chicagorilla says and the only reason I threw in the almost was because I didnt wanna dickride. A large basis of the argument for the GOAT is #s because a lot of the greatest dont have a lot of championships and in different eras numbers often wont tell the whole story and be incredibly inflated. If you play with inferior talent than you’ll have amazing numbers period. I cant really fault those classic guys for doing what their supposed to do and dominate their opponents who jus werent as good as they were but if thats the case you’d have to take their numbers with a grain of salt. Guys are faster and stronger and more athletic today by far and no disrespect to the older guys but Ive seen some classic games and I know I could have played with some of them (not getting crazy but maybe a starter on a bad team or a bench player) point is the GOAT has a lot of different things to consider and skill level, era, numbers (with a grain of salt), chips (again salt) teammates (more salt, this is 1 salty dish) and quite possibly most important affect on the game and pop culture. That is paramount because any of us true ballheads know Oscar and Wilt and Kareem and Tiny and Earl the pearl and those names because we’ve watched heavily whereas EVERYONE knows MJ and Kobe and Shaq. Media helps cememnt ones legacy as sad as it is but game is the most important and thats why I pick MJ. He created memories for us, he caused the league to change its rules and created a proto-typical face for the league that their still trying to frame players for years after his departure.


  • OB

    I’ve seen enough ball played (and played enough also) from ESPN classic to Turkey in my 31 yrs also, and I have to agree with Mr. Robertson, MJ isn’t the best ever. He’s Top 5 but not the GOAT b/c deciding on who is, is way too subjective and complicated…you can’t compare eras, stats, rings, etc…that’s like trying to compare Gen. Colin Powell to Gen. David Petraeus to decide who the better commander was…

  • cov

    so oscar says ask the other players, well he was asking Oscar. So who does Oscar think is the best ever? Just answer the question yourself bruh.

  • https://www.sportsbetting.com.au/basketball_betting dcyrilcasa

    People who get irritated about this have dumb. Oscar Robertson is right. Just to add something. Jordan was the best in his Era. So does Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russel and LeBum James.

  • http://www.basketsim.com BNZA

    Chicagorilla completely nails it.

    Everyone who played mostly before the introduction of the 3-Point-Line shouldnt be in the discussion for the GOAT. Jordan, Hakeem, Dirk & Kobe would eat these guys alive.

  • Big Sia

    Wilt is easily the GOAT… MJ Kareem follow

  • JD


    What made MJ purely the GOAT was the impact he had on the game – and how he played the game that have made the NBA became popular as it is today. Not that he just won 6 rings or other silly reasons.





  • mark

    Chicagorilla makes some good points. I would rather say it this way. It’s not that todays players would eat the lunch of yesterdays players, but rather it is unfair to compare players of diferent decades against each other. Wilt may not be the GOAT but he was for sure the man of his own time. really what more can you ask of an athlete? In every sport athletes have gotten bigger, faster, stronger.. I don’t think you can hold it against yesterdays athletes that they were born to soon..

    LBJ best pure athlete I have ever seen.
    MJ Best competetor I have ever seen.
    Kobe best closer I have ever seen.
    Maravich best pure shooter I have ever seen..

    you see there is no GOAT, just opinions.

  • Kudabeen

    Agree with Oscar…LeBron has more tools that MJ, but he’ll never realize his real potential, because he is a coddled athlete that doesn’t have the type of fire that could compete with his Airness.

    Individual talent I’ve always said Wilt Chamberlain is the GOAT…NO body dominated the game like Wilt. For those that say he was bigger…you don’t know basketball and you really don’t know Wilt’s game. He had a finesse to his game. He handled the ball. He handled triple and quadruple team, was the first up and down the floor. He never fouled out of a game, yet blocked, rebounded, and defended with the best of them. He had a stamina and endurance that was crazy in his short career for a guy that took the punishment he took. He never retaliated, he just keep getting buckets and being unstoppable. The media leave him CLEAN OUT of the discussion when they want to talk about scoring, rebounding and other records, because he makes the discussion irrelevant!! .

    Winner – Bill Russell is the GOAT. He won on all levels in a big way. Player/Coach and ultimate teammate. Kiss the rings!

    Greatest Entertainer/Actor in the theater of the Game of Basketball – Michael Jordan stands above all. When the NBA became a full on show, with sub-plots and drama. Jordan’s marketing, the stories of his High School failure and drive to come and dominate. His UNC career where he just was the cream that risen to the top of an uber-talented squad under Dean Smith. His coming in the NBA as a young gun off a eye opening Olympic outing and just EXPLODING as a showman scorer was incredible contrast to what Bird, Magic, Dr. J, etc. He was a young punk that didn’t care, he just attacked. When he was losing and getting spanked (his teams), then rose up in 91 to conquer all, then go on a run of winning that is what we all see. It was laid out as an incredible story.

    It is the bedtime story we all heard through out our development, so it is hard to look back at his predecessors and give them their proper due.

  • Brown

    Question: Tie game, final posession, who do you give the ball to?

    Answer: Jordan.

    Question: Elimination game. You need a big game from your superstar to stay alive. Who do you want carrying your team?

    Answer: Jordan.

    I could do this all day.

  • Aaron

    Plan and simple greatest of all time is Osacr Robertson. The man averaged a triple double for an entire NBA season. Not only did he avg a triple double, he was scoring 30.8 ppg, 11.4 apg, and 12.5 rpg. He is the greatest baller of all times. There is not one thing this man could not or did not do on the basketball court. This defines that GOAT.

  • LakeShow84

    I look at it in a pound for pound sense..

    And since MJ was the smallest (of all the top 5, top 10) players and did the MOST damage i give it to him..

    6/6 in the Finals with 6 Finals MVP and a MVP ALONGSIDE an DPOY award???

    Just cant fucks wit it lol

  • Aaron

    Greatest Baller of all time in teh NBA, plan and simple look at Oscar Robertson career numbers:

    25.7 PPG
    7.5 RPG
    9.5 APG

    This man for 5 season straight when he came in the league either avg a triple double or dame near close.

    1960-61 30.5 ppg; 10.1 rpg; 9.7 apg
    1961-62 30.8 ppg; 12.5 rpg; 11.4 apg
    1962-63 28.3 ppg; 10.4 rpg; 9.5 apg
    1963-64 31.4 ppg; 9.9 rpg; 11.0 apg
    1964-65 30.4 ppg; 9.0rpg; 11.5 apg

    No other player in NBA history comes close to appoarching these numbers.

  • Ian

    agree with your wilt comment.

    i kinda agree with you i always said that hakeem robinson and shaq would kill any center ever not named wilt. can you imagine russell tryin to chase down the admiral or soft block to a teammate a shaq dunk?

  • Ian

    look at kareems resume its kinda similar

    to help you out a bit if you avg oscars 3 first seasons its a triple double also.

    the man wasnt getting the cheap rondo kidd types ones of 10 10 10 it was fucking 30 10 12

  • http://www.wtf.com Chicagorilla


    While those are amazing numbers, you do realize that people say Wilt and Bill Russell avg a triple double if you include Blocks, which they didn’t count back then.

    Also while a triple dip avg is nice… I’ll take 50pts and 25 reb a game from Wilt as the best season ever (before the 80’s).
    Think about that, 50pts and 25 rebounds for 80 games.

    and for his career Wilt is 30ppg 23rpg 4.4apg.
    Oscar ain’t flucking with that kinda impact on a game. And that’s without them counting blocks and steals which Wilt would be amongst the all time leaders in both.

    That being said,

    Game ,series, season on the line give me MJ every rip.

  • http://www.wtf.com Chicagorilla


    While Kareem can sorta match MJ in finals rings, looking at his numbers, its intresting how he fell off rebounding wise once the guys around him got much larger. Guys like Moses Malone, Hakeem, Ralph Sampson, and Jack Sikma out in the West seemed to slow him down a lot on the boards during the 80’s. He still kept a decent scoring pace, but he was also playing with the greatest passer/playmaker in the history of basketball (Magic) during the 80’s. I think that covered up a lot of the holes in his offensive game as far as not being physical enough, but dude was still beasting don’t get me wrong.

  • Ian

    true but imo during the first half of the 80s i think kareem was still better than magic but thats just me. like i said give me the 90s centers over every other (not ewing).

  • thelion

    BNGA think about it. The older players averages were exceptional BECAUSE they DID NOT not have a three point line. The three point shot jaump shooters a chance to stay in the game. The rules changes helped current players. An assist was a direct pass to aplayer who made a shot. Today, an assist is given if you pass to a player, he dribbles, comes off a screen and scores. Wilt caused the three second lane to be widened because he strattled the original one. Bill Russell ushered in gosl tending because he would block shots at the rim and put back missed shots , over the rim.
    Let’s take Oscar’s first year; 30 pts and nine assist is 48 points agme.

  • thelion

    BNZA good point. The averages of Oscar, Wilt, West, Baylor were WITHOUT the benfit of a three point line. Add another nine points to West’s NBA final average= 54 per game.

  • Ken

    My top 5 , and I can’t and won’t put one over the other
    so I’ll put them in chronological order..Russel,Wilt, Robertson, Kareem, Magic.