One sports debate that may never be settled is the classic LeBron James (LBJ) vs. Michael Jordan (MJ). If you’re like me and love getting into arguments, and are a LeBron fan, you already know that five little words can start a huge sports argument anywhere, except probably Cleveland. Those words are: LeBron is better than Jordan. With that being said, let’s get down to it.
I looked at every stat that I could find on these two, and the one thing I realized is that these two can’t really be compared. Their games are so different it, is like comparing Wayne Gretzky to Bobby Orr, but I am going to compare them anyways. So, first let’s look at the accolades.
I compared LeBron’s twelve seasons in the league to Jordan’s first thirteen, because James played about the same amount of minutes (35,769) in about the same amount of games (911) in twelve seasons as Jordan did in his first thirteen (35,887 and 930, respectively). I think I should also state that LBJ came into the league as a 19-year- old, where MJ came in as a 21-year-old. Not that it is that big of a difference; it is just something to keep in mind when talking about accomplishments at certain points in their careers. Everyone talks about Jordan’s six championships to LeBron’s two, but if you look at their ages at the times of championships, it paints a different picture. At thirty years old, which is LeBron’s age now, he has two championships to go along with two finals and four season MVP awards. Jordan, by the time he was thirty years old, had just three of six championships; with three, of five, season MVPs; and three, of six, Finals MVPs. That is a lot closer than people like to mention. Sure, there is the counter that Jordan would have more championships if he didn’t retire to play baseball (only to come back, then retire again four years later), but who cares. That can’t be a real argument, because he did those things and he doesn’t have more. LeBron still has plenty of time to catch up in terms of championships, season MVPs and Finals MVPs.
Now lets look at the stats. So, from looking at the compared seasons, it becomes evident that MJ was, straight up, a better scorer. In roughly the same amount of minutes, MJ had 29,277 points, where LeBron only had 24,913 points, but the game is not all about how many points you can put up, and LBJ knows that more than Jordan did. Jordan has a big advantage in points and steals, but LeBron has a big advantage in rebounds and assists, which lead to more team points. So, really, we come back to what I said before: that these two players play different games, each excelling at different aspects of the game.
What really separates LBJ from MJ in the battle for best ever is James’ versatility. At 6’8”, 240 pounds, LeBron is an absolute monster who can dominate anybody in the league physically while still having the speed and ball-handling skills to succeed in the faster, more guard-favoured game that we have today. LeBron can play at any position and be one of, if not the best, player at that position in the league. Michael, on the other hand, played shooting guard or small forward, and would look like a fish out of water anywhere else. Being as big as he is, LeBron is one of the most feared defenders in the league, and with the increase in fouls in today’s game, LBJ’s six all-defensive team awards is more impressive than Jordan’s nine. When all is said and done in both their careers, I don’t think Jordan’s biggest fans will even be able to dispute who is the greatest.
harrison brooks — sports writer
I love you to death, bud, but you are simply wrong this time. Normally in a debate about this sport, I would go into great details about the intricacies of the game of basketball, but you’ve graciously brought up a topic that I can simply go by the numbers on. Michael Jordan and LeBron James, the “great” debate, is a laughable dispute, in my humble opinion. In the world of sports, statistics often do not lie; this is exactly why I’m going to smack you in the face with some numbers. First and foremost, Michael Jordan has won six NBA titles in comparison to LeBron James’ meager two. Fun fact for you: every international squad Jordan laced them up with won gold. LeBron’s squads did not have the same fate on the world’s grand stage. That’s right LeBron, I remember Athens in ’04 and Japan in ’06; all Jordan does is win.
From there, we can easily transition our attention to Jordan’s six NBA Championship MVP awards. As far as championship MVP honours go, again LeBron James has but two. Continuing with the MVP trend, it should be noted that Jordan holds five regular season MVP awards, James only four. The interesting part about the MVP awards is that most NBA writers believe Jordan was robbed of multiple other MVPs, because the writers who voted on the MVP committee believed he had “already won enough.” Michael Jordan was voted onto fourteen NBA All-Star teams in his fifteen-year career, whereas LeBron has been on eleven All-Star teams in twelve seasons. Had Jordan not attempted an MLB career, most NBA writers believe he would have surely made the 1994 All-Star team, making him fifteen for sixteen in All-Star teams made. Granted, LeBron could pass him in this particular statistic, barring health issues and poor aging.
The most underrated props from the league, in my opinion, being selected to the NBA All Defensive First Team, has occurred to Jordan nine times. LeBron has only been selected five times to this same prestigious team. Along with the first team defense that Jordan brought to the table, he also nabbed the NBA steals championship three times. Being the steals champ is a feat that LeBron has not done once. On the offensive side of basketball, I truly believe it isn’t close, and the awards would agree. Michael Jordan has won ten, count ‘em, ten NBA scoring championships. LeBron has one scoring championship in his entire career. Lest we forget, Michael Jordan is the NBA’s fourth highest all-time leading scorer. Jordan had undeniable, freakish ability that can be proven by insane career statistics, which is exactly how I’ll wrap this up. Jordan posted a whopping 30.1 points per game throughout his career and LeBron has only put up 27.3. I’d ask about what more you may need, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty clear who the G.O.A.T is.
jhett folk — contributor