This year's NBA MVP race is one of the tightest in recent memory.
Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo are all completing tremendous campaigns worthy of MVP consideration. If those three big men weren't playing so well, Devin Booker would warrant a closer look for the 62-16 Phoenix Suns. And Luka Doncic at least deserves a spot high on each ballot.
Without a consensus, this is developing into a fascinating race tailored-made for juicy takes.
On Monday's episode of First Take, Stephen A. Smith said a basketball legend texted him with his assessment. While Smith wouldn't confirm his name, he told Magic Johnson that this icon shares Johnson's initials and disagrees with Smith picking Booker over the likes of Giannis.
It's not going out on a limb to identify this mystery all-time great as Michael Jordan, who's right to challenge Smith's selection.
Although Booker is averaging 26.6 points per game for the NBA's best squad, his individual portfolio doesn't stack up to the other transcendent stars.
According to Basketball Reference, Jokic, Antetokounmpo, and Embiid respectively rank first, second, and third in win shares and Player Efficiency Rating (PER). The trio is far above Booker and the rest of the Association.
Any of those three is a respectable choice, but Jokic has played the most games (72) while flirting with a triple-double most nights. He has a strong case to earn his second consecutive MVP hardware at the expense of Giannis, who notched back-to-back awards the prior two seasons.
Despite his front-office shortcomings, Jordan's basketball opinions still tend to carry a bit more weight than Smith's thoughts. But which one has the better MVP assessment?