With the debut of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” on Sunday, the GOAT debate has reared its ugly head again. While some people believes it’s Michael Jordan, others believe it’s for LeBron James. For the Los Angeles Lakers, the answer is pretty simple: Alex Caruso is the GOAT.
Okay, so maybe Caruso’s teammates don’t actually think he’s the greatest basketball player of all time, but “GOAT” is the nickname LeBron James gave him at the start of the season, and it stuck. In an interview with Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times, Caruso talked about his flattering nickname, and why he thinks his teammates bought into it:
“It’s funny,” Caruso said. “Every time it comes up, it’s funny. It has kind of lost its pop to me because everyone on the team says it now, but when it first started happening it was funny and it was a good laugh. Everyone still enjoys it and they’re still saying it.
“The outside world might be taking it in basketball terms but I think when my teammates say it, they’re just speaking to the kind of teammate I am and the kind of guy I am. I’m just another one of the guys who happens to be really good at basketball and don’t look like I should be.”
The funniest thing about Caruso is that he’s actually lived up to the hype that Lakers fans created last year.
No, he’s not scoring 20 points per game or dunking on Michael Jordan, but he elevates the Lakers’ player whenever he’s on the floor. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Lakers have a +4.6 point differential when Caruso is on the floor, which is the third-highest point differential on the team behind James (+12) and Danny Green (+5.5).
Caruso may not be the GOAT, but — to steal a phrase from Lakers assistant Phil Handy — he’s been his own GOAT. Now, let’s just hope the season resumes so Caruso can win a ring and enter the actual GOAT conversation.