Los Angeles Lakers enthusiasts can stake their claims to an array of potential basketball greats in history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Jerry West all arguably deserve spots in the NBA’s top 15, with the potential for inclusion in the top 10.
While Abdul-Jabbar and James have valid cases for contention, the consensus often revolves around Michael Jordan as the all-time basketball GOAT. In a captivating exchange on “The Morning Hustle” radio show with host Kyle Santillian, Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson from Bovada raised a thought-provoking question: what is the hip hop equivalent of the MJ-vs.-LBJ basketball GOAT debate? Robinson proposed the names of Drake, a genre trendsetter, and Jay-Z, often hailed as the premier MC. Interestingly, Santillian places significant emphasis on the broader impact of a hip hop artist beyond their music in this hip hop GOAT conversation. While I don’t give this aspect substantial weight, I can understand its relevance.
However, when it concerns Jay-Z’s business ventures such as Powerade stock ownership or sports management, it’s unclear how they correlate to the quality of his music, like “The Blueprint” or “The Dynasty.” Similarly, James, much like Drake, has wielded considerable influence in his sport but arrived on the scene after MJ’s departure.
“Do you think that a LeBron and Michael comparison is comparable in basketball to a Drake and Jay-Z comparison in hip hop?” Robinson asked.
“No, because I think even though I have Jordan at one, I think [for] Jordan and LeBron, the gap is much closer than a Jay-Z and anybody else. You know what I mean?” Kyle said. “I understand the impact that Drake’s had over the course of the last ten years from a musical standpoint, but I’ve got to see it over the course of 25, 30 years in the business room and in that space as well.”
The accomplishments of Michael Jordan, from his ventures with Nike to his multifaceted business interests, LeBron James’ expanding media empire and sports team stakes, and Magic Johnson’s diverse business involvements, including owning stakes in major sports teams, are undoubtedly remarkable. Yet, it shouldn’t solely determine their prowess on the court compared to players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, or Tim Duncan, who have less pronounced business portfolios.
In my NBA all-time rankings, Michael Jordan takes the lead, followed by Abdul-Jabbar, with considerations for his exceptional career longevity. LeBron James and Bill Russell contend for third place, with Russell being the most successful player in team sports, albeit within a smaller league. The debate surrounding hip hop’s GOAT parallels these basketball discussions, delving into the broader impact of Drake and Jay-Z beyond the music industry.