Originally Posted by Loki
Phil Jackson in his book said something to the effect of "just because a guy has the ball in his hands all the time doesn't mean that he's a leader; a guy like Jordan or Bird I feel were much better leaders than Magic Johnson." (paraphrased)
I'd say Magic, myself, though the edge is not huge (their styles differed wildly, though), and it doesn't make him the better player imo.
Phil is a great coach but I can't say he ever got the leadership thing down. His triangle creates a void in leadership and it could be argued it created an atmosphere of great ego-centricity. Which is the exact opposite of what a Zen leader teaches. Phil never knew how to balance the Kobe Shaq thing and thought that his Zen teachings would create a natural flow out of it. It was the greatest debacle of leadership and he was one third the equation. When Pippen wanted the leadership role Phil castrated him in favor of a guy that didn't have leadership in him at a critical time in prolonging their season.
Phil was more than likely pacifying Jordan with the quote. The triangle would be a leaderless contraption if he said it any differently. Jordan, a lot of the time wasn't even in the chain of command for fellow players to get instruction - or other things communication wise - I don't know any player that said yeah they went to Jordan in this regard - they all went to Pippen. They couldn't talk to Jordan and when they did he had no trouble pulling out the fear me card. Even told players to not pass to Cartwright, and Cartwright had to threaten him in order to stop the nonsense. Jordan is GOAT but he wasn't top notch in everything and had some major leadership issues. Listen to his HOF speech, it wasn't about his teammates, it was about him and his adversaries. It took a lot of people back.
Magic was approachable, teaching, uniting, accessible, a mentor, guide and leader by example. He was totally intuned to players not being involved and got them involved. He even had an award system if a player got a block, steal, or defensive play. He inspired Kareem to play all out after he was fading for two years. He ran the most team efficient offense ever. He could make players believe in themselves. He made it easy for players. He knew how to reach players where they were at and inspire them to where they should be at. Jordan really lacked in most of these areas and to be blunt and simple - he shouldn't be compared to Magic in this regards.