The debate over the greatest basketball player continues to fuel debates, evident in the response of Earvin “Magic” Johnson to Stephen Curry’s self-assessment as the greatest point guard in basketball history.
During an episode of Gilbert Arenas’ podcast Gil’s Arena, Arenas asked Curry about his position among point guards, prompting a nuanced response from Curry compared to his earlier remarks on the overall GOAT in August. Curry acknowledged his own standing in the conversation, alongside Magic Johnson, recognizing the latter’s remarkable career achievements.
Curry said, “Yes, it’s me and Magic [Johnson]. Is that the conversation? Obviously I have to answer myself. But to your point, Magic Johnson’s résumé is ridiculous. So the fact that we’re even having that conversation is a place that I never thought I’d be in.”
Johnson heard Curry’s comments and responded on his appearance on the Zach Gelb Show. Even though Gelb was careful to note that Curry was respectful of Magic, the elder statesman listed off all of his accomplishments.
“Well, do the numbers say that, Zach?” Johnson asked pointedly. “If he got more than five [NBA Finals] championships, if he got more than three Finals MVPs and three league MVPs, then he’s the greatest. Is he? If he got more than number one in assists all-time in the Finals, number two in double-doubles, number one in triple-doubles… If he got more than all those things, then he’s the best. But the last time I checked, he doesn’t. But everybody has to decide for themselves who the best is.”
Michael Jordan chimed into the debate of Magic versus Curry that First Take had back in August 2023.
Jordan sent a text message to Stephen A. Smith at 5:54 a.m., discussing what he believes to be the criteria for the greatest point guard to ever play in the NBA.
“Good morning, sir. Although greatest of anything is always a debate, I beg to differ on greatest point guard of all-time and what you said,” Jordan texted. “Magic Johnson is easily the best point guard of all-time. Steph Curry is very close, but not in front of Magic. You must define point guard to really have a serious debate. Steph Curry is by far the best shooter of all time.”
For context, Smith said previously that he believes that Curry is the greatest point guard to ever play the game and His Airness wanted to let him know that there are indeed levels to this.
The GOAT conversation extended to the WNBA in 2021 as the league celebrated its 25th season. The fans who voted crowned Diana Taurausi as the greatest player the league has ever seen. That decision and the choice by the league to give her an actual award has caused some fans to bristle. Players of the past, like Cynthia Cooper, who both paved the way for the WNBA and achieved basketball’s rarest feat, the 4-peat (four consecutive championships), do not often receive their just due because of recency bias. Similar to the debate in men’s professional basketball about the GOAT or even just positional GOAT’s, the debate about who the greatest basketball player is to ever touch the hardwood will probably still be raging another hundred years from now.