OKLAHOMA CITY -- If Michael Jordan were starting a team from scratch, apparently he would begin with Kobe Bryant over LeBron James and go from there.
In an interview with NBATV, Jordan said he would take Bryant over James based on the fact that Bryant has won more championships. The majority owner and head of basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats, Jordan has had a spotty career as an evaluator of talent, but he probably couldn’t go wrong with either superstar. Still, given the choice, His Airness would take Bryant.
“Five beats one every time I look at it,” Jordan said. “And not that [James] won’t get five. He may get more than that, but five is bigger than one.”
Bryant is in his 17th season in the NBA, and James is a 10-year veteran. Winner of the MVP in three of the past four seasons, James is on pace to win it again this season. On Tuesday, James set an NBA record by scoring at least 30 points in six consecutive games while also shooting over 60 percent from the field during the streak.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” James said Thursday morning after the Heat’s shootaround. “If you take Kobe one and I go second, it doesn’t matter. I don’t get too involved in what guys say about me or if you take Kobe or if you take LeBron.
“As long as I’m on the floor and I make plays for my teammates, I don’t do what I do for other people’s approval.”
With Jordan’s 50th birthday coinciding this week with James’ record-breaking run of play, media outlets have gravitated toward discussions about whether James is approaching Jordan’s level of greatness. Jordan is considered by many to be the best player in NBA history.
Heat teammate Dwyane Wade, who was once endorsed by Nike’s Jordan Brand, shied away from the topic when asked if he would take James over Jordan.
“What ages are we talking about?” Wade asked. “Because at 50, then I’m not starting my franchise with Jordan.
“If I’m a [general manager], then I close my eyes and pick it out of a hat. If they’re both at the same age, I close my eyes and pick out of a hat.”
Heat forward Udonis Haslem did not travel with the team to Oklahoma City after sustaining a leg contusion Tuesday during Miami’s victory against Portland. Shane Battier started for the Heat.
Battier, who was in the Heat’s starting lineup during last season’s NBA Finals, has started 18 games this season.
Entering Thursday, Battier was on a torrid scoring run, making 14 of his previous 21 attempts from three-point range.
• The Heat’s team plane dropped off the franchise’s contributions to Houston’s All-Star Game early Friday morning before heading back to South Florida. Among the players who remained in Texas was center Dexter Pittman, who is from the Bayou City.
As a prominent player from the city, Pittman will be honored during All-Star Weekend with a prominent display case of his high school memorabilia.
Rashard Lewis, who is also from Houston, is also among those who will be honored.