Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas said Tuesday that while the debate over whether LeBron James is a better basketball player than Michael Jordan is hardly settled, James is probably the better athlete.
"They're both great players, and they're both great in their eras," Thomas told ESPN 1000's "The Waddle & Silvy Show." "In my era, we hadn't seen an athlete quite like Michael Jordan. He jumped higher than everyone else. He was a little faster than everyone else and he was just the best athlete.
"LeBron James is the best athlete of today, and he's probably a better athlete than Michael Jordan was. He's bigger, he's faster, he's stronger."
Who would win one-on-one?
"Now when you put them out on the floor to compete against each other in different eras, it depends on which rules you're playing with and which coach you're being coached by," Thomas said. "So there's a lot that really goes into it.
"Had Michael Jordan not met Phil Jackson, would Michael Jordan be Michael Jordan today had he stayed with (Stan) Albeck and Doug Collins, and they were great coaches, but I think Jackson had a lot to do with his success. LeBron right now seems to be in the right situation with the right coach with the right players and his talent is being exposed and is flourishing."
Jordan turned 50 on Sunday. At his birthday celebration, Antawn Jamison said Jordan "could get you about 10 or 11 points, come in and play 15-20 minutes" if he played today.
Thomas wasn't as sure.
"If he played 40 minutes," Thomas said. "It's all about minutes and shots, always. The question is, yeah, he can score 10, but could he guard the other guy? Could he get back in transition?"