Jay Bilas can put one greatest-of-all-time debates to rest.
The ESPN analyst played against Michael Jordan in college in the early 1980s when Jordan attended North Carolina and Bilas was at Duke. Bilas said he first saw a "relentlessness" that would go on to push Jordan into the argument as the greatest player to ever play basketball while leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships.
Except Bilas feels college greatness becomes a different debate.
In an Instagram Live interview with USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday, Bilas said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is hands down the best NCAA player in history. Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor before he changed his name, averaged 26.4 points in three national title-winning seasons at UCLA. He was named national player of the year in 1967, 1968 and 1969 before becoming an all-time great in the NBA, too. He spearheaded the Lakers to five NBA titles and the Bucks to one and was a six-time NBA MVP.
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas signs a hoop hat for 10 year old Caden Barnhardt of Rocky Mount, NC at Dean E. Smith Center. (Photo: Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports)
"Kareem is the best college player. Period," Bilas said. "If you put Kareem in today's game (college or pro), he'd still average 30-something (points)."
In an ESPN poll last month, Jordan was voted as the greatest college player of all-time.
"I didn't agree with that," Bilas said. "I don't know if Jordan would agree with that. Nobody was as good as Kareem when he played. Nobody. You put him in today's game, I think he'd be just as effective. But he doesn't get the same respect."
Bilas still saw Jordan as a blossoming legend. He played at Duke from 1982-86 and Jordan played at UNC from 1981-84.
"Jordan was an amazing athlete, player, then competitor," he recalled. "That was the first time I saw what relentless really looked like. You knew it right away when I played against him in an '82-83 pick-up game. That was the first time I played against him. He was on a different level any other player I'd seen or played against."
Source: Read Full Article