I understand exactly what John Salley is trying to say, but he didn’t articulate it well. He is saying that out of all the players he played against, he doesn’t think Jordan was best, so in turn he can’t be the greatest of all time.
If you look at it that simply, you can’t say Salley is wrong. You can’t tell someone who played in the NBA who was the best player he played against.
Unfortunately for Salley it isn’t that simple. Greatness isn’t define by who John Salley had trouble defending. I am sure someone has trouble defensing Carmelo Anthony, does that make him better than Lebron? It is a little deeper than that.
Salley made the comments while on The Herd with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio:
“I love Michael. I’m a Michael Jordan fan, like everyone else. I just don’t think he’s the greatest player ever. I think the greatest player I ever played against was Magic Johnson. Next was Larry Bird. Then Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The hardest guy I ever had to guard? Hakeem Olajuwon. …. The greatest player I ever played with? I played with Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen …. Isiah Thomas is the greatest player I’ve ever played with.”
All the Bad Boy Pistons seem to carry a grudge against the Jordan Bulls. It is like they were Lex Luther and MJ was Superman.
I know a few people who think Magic in particular was a better player than Jordan, but the consensus is that Jordan is the greatest of all time. Salley just isn’t in that majority.