It's no secret that Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas weren't on the best of terms during their playing days. So, when Isiah was asked if he thinks LeBron James is a better athlete today than MJ was back in the day recently, we fully expected him to say, "HELL YES!" But, Isiah surprised us by instead offering up a very considerate answer during an appearance on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. 

"They're both great players," Thomas said, "and they're both great in their eras. In my era, we hadn't seen an athlete quite like Michael Jordan. He jumped higher than everyone else. He was a little faster than everyone else and he was just the best athlete. LeBron James is the best athlete of today, and he's probably a better athlete than Michael Jordan was. He's bigger, he's faster, he's stronger."

Okay, thoughtful or not, he still picked LeBron. But, he didn't stop there. He also talked about what would happen if they were able to play one-on-one and gave another great answer.

"Now when you put them out on the floor to compete against each other in different eras, it depends on which rules you're playing with and which coach you're being coached by," Thomas said. "There's a lot that goes into it. Had Michael Jordan not met Phil Jackson, would Michael Jordan be Michael Jordan today had he stayed with [Stan] Albeck and Doug Collins? And, they were great coaches, but I think Jackson had a lot to do with his success. LeBron right now seems to be in the right situation with the right coach with the right players and his talent is being exposed and is flourishing."

Great answers. And, we've gotta hand it to Isiah for offering up some real insight into the MJ/LeBron comparison as opposed to just saying, "LeBron," and keeping it moving.

RELATED: 50 Things You Didn't Know About Michael Jordan

RELATED: Infographic: Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James

[via ESPN Chicago]