Basketball: Michael Jordan's still the greatest of all time - Ron Harper

Former NBA player Ron Harper speaking to media in Singapore, where he is to hold a basketball clinic, on Sept 7, 2016.
Former NBA player Ron Harper speaking to media in Singapore, where he is to hold a basketball clinic, on Sept 7, 2016.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - In five-time National Basketball Association champion Ron Harper's books, Michael Jordan still reigns supreme when it comes to picking the greatest basketballer of all time.

In a meeting room at The Westin Singapore, The Straits Times asked Harper to compare Jordan to Kobe Bryant - both of whom were his former team-mates at the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers respectively.

"MJ," he said in a heartbeat.

The 52-year-old added: "MJ by far. They (Jordan and Bryant) are about as close as the top two players you could have played with... Kobe will probably go down as a great player in his time. But Michael is just that guy, superior."

Even when a more recent favourite, three-time NBA champion Lebron James, was thrown into the mix, the Ohio native stuck with his "close friend till this day" - six-time NBA champion Jordan. Bryant has five championship rings.

"LeBron is a great player. He's not like MJ or Kobe, they're scorers but Kobe is more a rebound, pass and score (kind of player). MJ is the greatest of all time. LeBron is great, and Kobe had his time but MJ never lost in a championship final... It speaks for itself," he said.

Harper recalls all the adventures he, Jordan and their team-mates had both on and off the court, from 6.45am workout sessions at Jordan's house, to meals together.

"The best part of any (team) sport is that you get to share it. The ups and downs, the hard work, the day to day grind. The fans don't get to see the behind the scenes... They didn't get to see me going to MJ's house to work out at 6.45 in the morning, they just see us out on the court."

He added: "We had a lot of fun together, did a lot of crazy things together. The 12 guys on the team with you, it's like a brotherhood... That's what I miss the about playing. We would go out to eat together, talk trash, talk smack, not be scared... A lot of bad habits."

When asked to list some of these exploits, Harper smiled, bounced the basketball in his hand and repeated: "I have to take those with me to my grave."

Harper is in town to participate in the first ever Jr. NBA Singapore 2016 National Training Camp, held at the OCBC Arena at the Singapore Sports Hub from Sept 9-11.

He will coach boys and girls from across the island that are hoping to make the inaugural Jr. NBA Singapore All-Stars.

The Jr. NBA Singapore All-Stars will compete overseas together with other Jr. NBA All-Stars from Southeast Asia later this year.