CHARLOTTE, NC — The noise in the far end of the Carolina Panthers’ locker room kept getting louder on Thursday.
Almost deafening loud.
Players weren’t in a heated discussion about why they were 1-5 and the losers of 12 of the past 13 games to fall to 32nd in ESPN’s NFL Power Rankings. They weren’t arguing over whether owner David Tepper was right or wrong to fire coach Matt Rhule, a man most of them respected tremendously, the week before.
They weren’t even discussing the possibility of Carolina trading Christian McCaffrey in a move that would throw them into a complete rebuild mode — a deal that actually happened around midnight when the star running back was sent to the San Francisco 49ers for a bunch of draft picks.
Instead, they were arguing about whether Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James at 37 was better than Milwaukee Bucks power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is 27.
It started as a somewhat friendly debate between cornerback Donte Jackson and edge rusher Brian Burns, who both reside in the far corner of the locker room. Jackson was adamant it was Giannis, the NBA’s MVP in 2019 and 2020 and the 2021 NBA Finals MVP.
Burns was adamant it was LeBron, a four-time NBA MVP, although James hasn’t won one since 2013. LeBron is also a four-time Finals MVP, the last coming in 2020.
As the discussion turned into a shouting match, the two Panthers players lured others in. Among them were defensive tackle Bravvion Roy and wide receiver Rashard Higgins, who seemed a bit confused about how spirited Jackson and Burns were.
Jackson, who at 5-foot-10 and 181 pounds is much smaller than Burns (6-5, 260), seemed to have the upper hand simply because he was louder. And in his words, « I know more about basketball than any of them. »
Burns had the last word, shouting for the umpteenth time, « Giannis can’t shoot! » as he abruptly exited the locker room. For the record, Antetokounmpo is averaging nearly 22 points per game for his career on 53.5% shooting. James has averaged 27 points per game over his long career but has a lower field goal percentage than Antetokounmpo.
The final word here is no matter how bad it is for a team that is down because of losing, the players still have lives, they still are fans of other sports and athletes, and they easily can get into heated debates just like the average person .