Jordan or Lebron?
What about Billy "The Kangaroo Kid" Cunningham?
I recently got a healthy bump in subscribers—so to my newbies, welcome! And to those of you who have been with me for awhile, I have no use for you anymore. I hate you, you’re worthless, and you legitimately mean nothing to me.
Also, this piece is about basketball. So if that’s your thing, terrific! If it’s not, just… pretend, I guess? Or click here to learn why doctors hate me for this one simple trick.
Alright! Let’s get started.
There are very few constants in my life outside of:
A gnawing fear of my own mortality
The Stephen A. Smith/Skip Bayless/Max Kellerman/Colin Cowherd talking heads regurgitating the who’s the greatest—Jordan or Lebron??? 🤔🧐🤯 debate with seemingly never-ending gusto.
A quick sidebar, for my subscribers who don’t know or don’t care about professional sports in America:
Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless, Max Kellerman, and Colin Cowherd are sports media personalities who make absolute gobs of money by yelling about sports. They’re basically the Alex Joneses of sports entertainment and their sports takes are about as nuanced as Evan Baxter’s gibberish in Bruce Almighty. But I love them—particularly Stephen A. Smith. I watch these guys for the same reason I watch Double Shot at Love with DJ Pauly D and Vinny, and—hint, hint, I’m not watching Double Shot at Love for its sophisticated portrayal of Italian-American familial dynamics1.
And for those who really don’t follow sports: Michael Jordan and Lebron James are two of the greatest basketball players of all-time. Here’s a nifty little infographic I tossed together highlighting the split between these two NBA icons:
The Jordan or Lebron argument is a lot like asking: Pepsi or Coke? New York or LA? Feet for fists or fists for feet?
It’s a fun little debate without a correct answer—which makes it perfect fodder for daytime sports talk shows. MJ and Lebron played in different eras with different competition and different playing styles, so drawing exact comparisons can be difficult—but what’s even trickier is if we start trying to compare current NBA players to guys who played in the 50’s or 60’s or early 70’s.
Would the guy at the end of the bench on the 2022 Detroit Pistons have been a Hall of Famer if he played for the 1968 Anaheim Amigos? Yeah—but I think that’s a lazy argument. Did Billy “The Kangaroo Kid” Cunningham of the 1972 Carolina Cougars mostly play against milkmen, Billy boys, and Quarrymen? Also yeah—but discounting his greatness is like saying Isaac Newton was a moron since he didn’t study topology or that Napoleon was a lousy general because he wouldn’t be able to defend himself against combat drones.
Nowadays, players like Lebron James and Chris Paul spend millions of dollars on trainers and nutritionists and workout equipment to keep their bodies in peak condition.
Meanwhile, players in the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s played in shoes eerily similar to what the Spartans wore during the Battle of Thermopylae, worked off-season jobs, and barely made enough money to buy themselves a new set of longshoreman's hooks for the upcoming busy season on the docks.
And let’s not forget about 1960 NBA MVP Wilt Chamberlain, who would literally drink a half-gallon of milk at halftime. Supposedly he drank OVER TWO GALLONS of milk per day. Plus a gallon of lemonade. And six bottles of soda. Seriously, look it up. I think Wilt Chamberlain was the most athletically-gifted human being in the history of humanity—and I’m not even thinking about his professional basketball achievements. The amount of liquid that man could put away is the stuff of legend.
I’ve also heard Wilt Chamberlain was terrified someone would try to kill him mid-game by poisoning his soda, so he’d have the ball boy take a sip to make sure it wasn’t tainted. Which—ha ha, hilarious—but if you think about it, Wilt was willing to let a child die so he could drink his 2nd quarter Sprite.
I’ve been a huge NBA fan my entire life. But for some reason, my fascination with the sport has waned. And I can’t really point to one specific thing for my lack of interest. Players changing teams all the time probably has something to do with it, the realization that I’m just rooting for obnoxiously wealthy men to toss a ball into a hoop more effectively than other obnoxiously wealthy men might have something to do with it, my clinical depression making it impossible for me to find any joy or pleasure or peace in my life might also have something to do with it…
Whatever the case may be, I’m finding myself watching less and less basketball. But—I do think the NBA could recapture my attention if they went back to their roots. No more of this load management nonsense. Players are no longer allowed to spend millions of dollars on their bodies. From now on, their offseason training routines consist of smoking a carton of cigarettes, drinking a bottle of bourbon, eating a crate of raw eggs, and lifting heavy, awkwardly-sized kitchen appliances in and out of U-Haul trucks.
I’m no expert, but I think if the NBA really wanted to reverse their declining ratings, they could try force-feeding their players two and a half gallons of whole milk, a quart of lemonade, and 24 ounces of ribeye steak right before tip-off.
Again—not an expert—but what if the league integrated strobe lights, excessive heat, and random, recurring foghorns throughout the game?
Sure, Lebron James can dunk, but can he dunk with three gallons of dairy sloshing around in his belly, blinded by pulsating flashes and temporarily deaf from 150 decibels of painful, recurrent audible warning signals?
This newsletter is brought to you by the American Dairy Association, the California Milk Processor Board, the North American Meat Institute, and the United States Lighthouse Society.
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Although—it does seem like Vinny mightily struggles with (1.) what he wants in a significant other; (2.) what he thinks he wants in a significant other; and (3.) what he thinks his mom and his loved ones think he needs in a significant other.