Debating GOATS is as fun as it is ultimately meaningless because there’s no end to it. But that doesn’t mean people are just going to stop engaging in such discussions, especially since from time to time, there will be a notable figure who will dump even more fuel to these burning topics. Take for example Basketball Hall of Famer Allen Iverson, who recently appeared on the ‘Club Shay Shay’ podcast at FOX Sports and respectfully said that his 1996 NBA Draft class is better than the batches of Michael Jordan in 1984 and LeBron James in 2003.
“I’m not taking anything away from Dwyane (Wade) and [Carmelo] Anthony, I love them guys on and off the court,” Iverson said. “But in the same thing with (Hakeem) Olajuwon, Mike, when you put LeBron in the class and you got Mike, it’s hard man.”
Allen Iverson has every right to think that the 1996 Draft Class is superior to the other two. Just like 1984 and 2003, 1996 was mind-numbingly good. Iverson got selected first overall. He was followed by Marcus Camby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen, and Antoine Walker. And by the way, some dude named Kobe Bryant was also in that class. Peja Stojakovic and Steve Nash were part of it too, Ben Wallace went undrafted but worked his way into becoming a Hall of Famer. The case for 1984 is that it’s got Michael Jordan and a number of Dream Teamers. Also, if 1996 had Wallace, 1984 had Oscar Schmidt, who was picked in the sixth round but didn’t appear in a single game in the NBA. Schmidt, a Hall of Famer, is arguably the greatest player who never played in the NBA.
LeBron’s batch has…well, LeBron. Alongside him are Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. Their batch doesn’t have the wild card that Wallace and Schmidt provide their respective classes, but at least four of its top five picks will be in Springfield down the road. (Chris Bosh is already there.)
This debate has been going on for several years but there hasn’t really been a conclusive answer yet, primarily because this is such a highly subjective matter. We’re not just talking about statistics, styles of play, number of trophies, and rings here. People will always have their own preferences and will stick to them no matter the strength of the presented cases of the other camps. Non-basketball factors will always come up in these kinds of conversations. Al Harrington, who was with Iverson in the podcast appearance, said that he’s picking the 1996 class for the simple reason that it had a more impact on his career than 1984 and 2003. How do you counter that?
The truth is, in this topic that involves the greatest players of all time, we are all Al Harringtons.