The truth about the LeBron James and Michael Jordan comparisons

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Updated: August 8, 2016

Sports would not be a fun if we could not have great debates.  Is my team better than yours.  Is my favorite player better than yours.  Maybe we share the same favorite.  It adds an extra layer of fun on top of the sport or sports we have grown to love.  When speaking of debates, there is one that comes to mind that has been ongoing for many years now.  That debate is who is better?  Michael Jordan or LeBron James.

It is my personal opinion that this should not be a debate to begin with.  Both guys simply are different players and played within different eras of the game of basketball.  But, because this is something we love to do it has grown into the question that may never be answered.  Or the question that can be answered a million different ways.  Many are quick to jump on the side of Michael Jordan and who could blame them.  He’s a six time champion and widely thought of as the greatest basketball player that ever lived.  LeBron on the other hand has been the villain at times and has been thought of as the guy who has just never quite lived up to the legacy of the great MJ.  I’m going to explain why that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I am a not a fan of LeBron James or Michael Jordan.  I have been very vocal about my opinions of the two over the course of my existence.  LeBron James especially.  Yet after watching his greatness time and time again I have grown to appreciate his game as much as I did Jordan while he was at his best.  Over time I have realized that for whatever reason fans of the game of basketball have just submitted to the reasoning that MJ is the greatest and that no one should ever dare compare him to anyone.  Especially LeBron.  However when you really dig in and break it down, you’ll see that narrow minded views do not allow you to see a greater picture.

Let’s dive in with what is the absolute worst argument that people come up with.  Jordan has more titles.  Yes, Michael does have 6 titles to LeBrons 3.  However, James is only 31 and still has a considerable amount of time left in his career to match that number.  Either way that argument is silly.  The titles comparisons from player to player in sports is an absolute joke.  Many time sin sports great players just simply don’t get the opportunities others do to win championships.  Just because one person is blessed with a better situation does not make him or her a better player.  Let’s also take into perspective that Bill Russell has 11 NBA titles to Jordan’s 6.  He also won one as a player.  I don’t hear that stuff coming out of any Jordan supporters mouth.  Ever.  LeBron is halfway to Jordan’s 6 and has a long way to go in his career.  It’s very possible that the titles debate will be off limits at some point in the future.  Thank God.

The next part of this debate is also interesting.  No one ever seems to mention have Michael Jordan’s playoff record was 1-9 in his first 3 season in the NBA.  It was only after Scottie Pippen arrived that he became the great winner everyone seems to claim he was born as.  In a team sport, you are only as great as the talent around you.  That is not a knock at MJ, just a realization that no one man has ever done it by himself in any team sport.  On the other hand, James did not fair as well in his first few playoff appearances either.  However, in 2007 he did take his team to the NBA Finals.  they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs who were a dynasty at the time.  My question to all of you basketball “experts” would be to name 3 players of significance on that Cavaliers team?  If you actually look from the big picture LeBrons first few seasons were every bit as successful and Jordan, if not more.

Now let’s get into when both situations began to improve for these guys.  After seasons of winning and ownership not really putting much talent around him, LeBron left for Miami in what will forever be known as “The Decision.” It was a bold move to leave his hometown team at the time, but for a man who wanted to win a championship, it was the right move to make.  When comparing these two guys this has always been a point that Jordan fans drive home.  To them it is a stain on the career of James that he had to leave to improve his situation.  Again this is completely ridiculous.  One let me state for the record that Free Agency is so common in sports nowadays that we tend to forget how rare it used to be for a great player to leave their respective team in their respective sport.  It was not always that way.  These two men come from different eras of sports so that argument again holds almost no validity and should not even be brought up.  Especially since it is free agency in all sports that gets fans excited about that coming year in certain sports to begin with.  LeBron won his 2 titles in 4 years with the Heat.  He was able to capture not one, but two titles that were so elusive to him in Cleveland.  He was put in a far better situation and the result was winning.  Very much like when Scottie Pippen arrived with the Chicago Bulls and not long after Jordan was hold the trophy up celebrating his first three peat.  It’s amazing what having talent around you can do isn’t it?  Let’s also not forget that the second three peat added the likes of Steve Kerr, Luc Longley, Ron Harper and Dennis Rodman.  All of which were through free agency.  That fails to ever be mentioned when speaking of the Bulls titles.  They were loaded for both runs.

After 4 years LeBrons run in Miami was over.  He took a big chance and decided to return home to Cleveland.  the two titles were great, but in his eyes he had unfinished business.  He needed to bring a title to a city that hadn’t seen one in any sport in 50 plus years.  Just a few months ago he delivered.  The Cavaliers won the championship in the second year of James return.  Not only did they win, but they beat the Golden State Warriors who broke the regular season wins record which was held by the Chicago Bulls.  The year before LeBron had pushed the Warriors to 6 games, but could not quite get over the hump.  Mind you, they were without their two best players other than James.  Something that many fail to mention.  So now at 31 James is a three time champion.  He got to three right around the time Jordan did.  And he still has plenty of time left.

But the real comparisons are about head to head right?  Well if you wee to look at the numbers alone, LeBron matches Jordan in every single category, and even surpasses him in some.  He is six thousand career points shy of passing Michael, and has already surpassed him in assists and rebounds and will likely do the same when it comes to steals as well.  Another comparison would be defensively.  LeBron is one of the best defenders the league has ever seen.  He will many times match up with the teams best player and lock them down or at least slow them down.  Just ask Kevin Durant what was done to him after game 1 of the finals against the Heat.  While Jordan was a great defender as well, it wa Scottie Pippen who would normally take the teams toughest match up and not Jordan.  Defensively James is just the better player because he can guard almost anyone on any part of the court.  James has also played every position on the court and changed his own game on the fly to suit the needs of his team.  This is something Jordan never did and to debate this would be ridiculous.  Lets also not forget people claimed James never came up big when it mattered most.  Except he averages over 33 point per game in games 7s which is the best mark in NBA history.  Hes also 1st in 20 point games in the playoffs, first in games with 20 points 10 rebounds and 10 assists, and tied for first in playoff games with 30 points 10 rebounds and 10 assists.  He’s also second all time to Magic Johnson in playoff triple doubles.  There are more to list but you get the picture.

So there you have it.  I’m not here to sway your opinion.  Everyone is entitled to their own.  However everything I stated here is fact.  And sometimes the facts are tough to hear.  they are also tough to argue.  So the next time you and your fellow friends and fans decide to have a debate about these two.  Just make sure it’s accurate and you look at things from a bigger scale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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