EVEN Michael Jordan had been drawn into talking about his game and how he would fare against some of the other stars in basketball, but five-time NBA champion Ron Harper wouldn’t be lured into such conversations, saying “His Airness” is “incomparable to any player past or present.”
Responding to a question thrown at him by Spin.ph on the iconic Jordan, Harper said it would be unfair to compare his friend and former teammate to Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant or even Miami Heat’s LeBron James.
“Nobody ain’t compare to Michael Jordan, he’s probably the best basketball player of all time. Besides, MJ by far is the best player of all time with his size, his speed, the players he had to compete with in basketball, and the teams he had to play against,” Harper said during his 15-minute talk time with sports scribes Saturday at the Sofitel Hotel.
Harper is in his first Manila visit as part of the buildup for Thursday’s NBA Global Games Philippines featuring the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers.
Harper said he’s blessed to have played alongside Jordan, and later on, Bryant, who was then in his early 20s with the Lakers.
The 49-year-old Harper won three NBA titles with the Bulls during the team’s second three-peat run from 1996-1998, before winning two more championships with the Lakers in 2000 and 2001.
Harper said Bryant is no doubt, a unique player who can be placed in the top 10 all-time NBA players, but he places Jordan on a different level.
“I wouldn’t even compare him (Jordan) to these guys (Bryant and James). Kobe for sure is a great player, a great competitor. He’s probably in the top 10 all-time best players, but one thing I learned playing with MJ, is he’s one of the greatest competitors of our time, he’s a great artist,” noted the 6-foot-6 Harper.
Harper, who has battled stuttering for most of his life, said the 1996 Bulls NBA championship was the most memorable moment in his colorful 15-year professional basketball career.
“The 72-10 (record in the 1996 NBA season) was great. It was hard work. We believe we had a very good basketball team and we had a very great head coach (in Phil Jackson),” he said.
“We had 12 guys, who came in and worked extremely hard every day. The only way we can be good is when we put our time in and we loved to play.”
The 1996 Bulls held several records including the all-time best start by a team (41-3), the best start at home of 37-consecutive victories along with the second-best home record in history at 39-2.
The Bulls whipped the Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp-led Seattle Supersonics, 4-2 in the Finals to win the 1996 NBA title.