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Michael Jordan vs. Lebron James

August 16, 2012

While watching ESPN earlier today, they made a report about an assistant coach from the US Olympic Team, Jim Boehim (also longtime Syracuse Collegiate Head Coach), appearing on ESPN radio and saying that ‘His Airness’ (obvious reference to Michael Jordan) might have company in the all-time NBA elite. He went on to comment about how Lebron leads a team both offensively and defensively, how Lebron is both a potent scorer and facilitator, and how Lebron can defend any position. Yes LBJ is an extremely versatile NBA player, but is he yet comparable to Michael Jordan?

Lebron James has career averages of 27.6 ppg on 48% shooting, 6.9 apg, 7.2 rpg and 1.7 spg. Michael Jordan has career averages of 30 ppg on 49% shooting, 5.3 apg, 6.2 rpg and 2.3 spg. But the results, and bodies of works are very different. In my personal opinion, I not only believe that Lebron James is comparable, I think he’s better. Its all in personal preference though, and really depends on how you feel about basketball and what the best approach is.

I think Lebron has the best offensive approach ive ever seen. He’s able to handle the ball like a PG, and can turn into a scorer in a split second. His huge frame, elite ball handling, superb speed, jumping ability and strength allow him to be able to drive to the rim and finish unlike anyone we have ever seen. When he’s coming off a pick, he has the ability to pass it to the open shooter, the cutter, the roll man, drive it to the basket himself, and sometimes he gets hot and can hit a mid-ranged shot. It workes in unison, the shooters make it easier for cutters to cut, the cutters make it easier for shooters to get an open shot, the movemement of cutters and presence of shooters give him the ability to get to the rim easier than he already could.  Its really a beautiful example of how basketball should be played; involve everyone and get the most efficient shot you possibly could.

Michael Jordan is a great great scorer. The greatest ever perimeter scorer, EVER! He can get the shot he wants, when he wants it, on a much more consistent basis then Lebron James. He’s provided not only the NBA, but the sports world with some of its all-time top moments. In adversity, his game has risen to levels unmatched in any sport. He used his scoring ability to great efficiency throughout his career, and is a true champion.

When you compare bodies of work tho, I give the upper hand to Lebron James. In life, we are in situations where we have to “carry the load”, as well as we are in situations where we have assistance to reach a goal. But in the NBA, success never comes from carrying the load. When one looks at the overall talent of the past NBA teams to win a championship, every single one of them has a load of decent, reputable NBA players. When Lebron James played in Cleveland, he didnt have any reputable players there with him making the plays. He carried the load in Cleveland in a way that has and never will be matched, giving us in my opinion the best overall performance ever in game 5 of the ECF vs Detroit in 2007, taking his team to the NBA Finals losing to the dynasty Spurs. In the 2008-2009 NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers won 67 Regular season games, losing only 1 home game in which Lebron didnt play. They were led by Lebron in his first MVP season. The next most notable players? Ben Wallace who played 56 games and averaged 3 pts and 6.5 rebounds, Big Z and Mo Williams who made an allstar game somehow. The first thing I thought was, this guy led his team in every major statistical catagory, gave us 28 ppg 7 assists 7 rebounds a game,  AND had the best record in the NBA? When has this ever happened? Never. And much credit is due for a 24 year old with those expectations, playing for his “hometown” that never won anything, ever.

These Cavs made it all the way to the ECF without losing one game in the playoffs. It seemed like this was his year to take over the NBA. That is, until the ECF ofcourse. Lebron went on to average 38 ppg versus the Magic in the series, and provided us with a game 2 buzzer beating 3 pointer that in my opinion was better than any buzzer beater I had ever saw. But the Magic won, they were a far superior coached and overall better team. No Cav stepped up to give Lebron the support he needed. People called him a loser. No one gave him credit for making it this far, no one brought up how his teammates shouldve stepped up. It was all on him. Very fair criticism world, and yes im being sarcastic. So they trade for a 400 year old Shaq the next season, and lose to another superiorly built and coached team, the Boston Celtics. Albeit, they again had the best record in the NBA once again and Lebron won the MVP once again. The team just wasnt overall good enough. Lebron couldnt make every play going up against a loaded team, like he had done against Detroit IN Detroit in game 5 of the ECF back in 2007 (please go watch it on youtube). Then LBJ became the most criticized player in NBA history with his bad decision.

Jordan’s career was different. While he had amazing scoring averages early on, it didnt translate to success immediately. His team hadnt past the Eastern Conferense until they had a great supporting cast led by Scottie Pippen, and hired alltime highest win % and most coaching NBA titles, Phil Jackson. In the 90-91 season, they got it all done and would win the following 2 championships. Following a year and a half break, Jordan would rejoin the Bulls along with Dennis Rodman and win 3 more championships to cement himself among the alltime greats and in the opinion of many as, the greatest.

Not mine though. I think that Pippen and Jackson and Rodman dont get enough credit. Basketball is about 5 guys, and the truth is without the names I just listed, Jordan didnt come very close to his success. Lebron had alot of success without much help. And we see how he dominated with talented teammates. While posting on yahoo earlier, I saw these two comments that caught my attention. I’ll leave them anonymous out of respect.

Heres the first guy:

“First off Jim Boeheim your an idiot. lebron wins 1 ring and that’s all it takes
HELL NO!!!!! MJ did not change teams to make his chances better he fought
through it & BUILT his legacy like a real champion does. No matter what any
clown says MJ is the greatest & has proven himself. What a dumb #$%$
comment.”

Heres a response from a different guy:

“Youre right he didn’t change teams but, his team didn’t originally draft any of
the following players Pippen, Armstrong, Grant, Paxson, Cartwright, Kerr, Kucoc,
Longley, Rodman, Harper, and Phil Jackson. MJ didn’t win a title until he
was 1 year older than lebron is now.
Did Jordan really fight through it and
build a legacy like a real champion? Or did his team just do a way better job
than the cavs in bringing in quality players and coaches?”

One guy denounces LBJ for leaving the Cavs, and salutes Jordan for staying a Bull. The other guy breaks down the more understanding and advanced thoughts on the delicate NBA processes that involve building a team.

This concludes my first article on this new blog. Please all opinions on my opinions, anything your guys wanna say, about my writing, anything just drop a comment below. This is my first article to any tips, advice or constructive criticism is welcomed.

Decided to add this, its a video of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals Game 5. Considering this game decided the series, and how Lebrons team was terrible, there was alot of pressure. He turned from hybrib facilitator/scorer into scoring monster in this one, making shots on such a high level of difficulty that i’ve never seen matched. Watch and enjoy. Dont forget to vote down below after watching.

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From → NBA

2 Comments
  1. I’m a Jordan fan for life, but with this comparison you have cemented my beliefs with facts and data I have never realized.

    I hope many other people read this blog and do the same research as you have – especially many of these so-called professional sports analysts. Maybe their eyes will finally be opened.

    While there is no way to measure the “killer instinct” or creativity that a great athlete like Jordan or Kobe has, facts and data don’t lie. And the fact is, they both had something Lebron will never have… and that’s Phil Jackson – a MAJOR reason why Chicago and L.A. won so many championships. He’s the Man. And, has just as many rings as Jordan and Kobe put together. Without him, would either player have won so many championships – even with the great roster they had? There have been other teams out there with great players that never won a championship – or, that didn’t meet expectations although they had some pretty decent players.

    Who knows what would’ve happened. But one thing’s for sure:

    We’ll never see such a streak like Phil’s winning record in a thousand years – unless, Lebron gets similar quality players as Jordan and Kobe had. Or, a coach (no disrespect) like they had.

    And, don’t think I’m hatin’, like I said, I’m a Jordan fan for life. I still get giddy when I watch some of his highlights on YouTube. I even have some of his videos on this computer that I watch regularly. In fact, I spent a couple of hours on YT last week watching old Jordan philosophies and gameplays. (side note: If you’re looking for some good motivational stuff, check out Ray Lewis.)

    Anyway, your article is good and I’m saving it for future reference in next year’s debates about who’s better: Jordan or Lebron – or, Kobe.

    Thanks. And, I wish you the best on your blog!

    • appreciate your thoughts, didnt think you were hating as you were very fair in your comment. coaching is a major factor in championship basketball. look at the past 30 championship teams. the coach to win it all either won multiple titles, Pat Riley, Bill Fitch, Greg Popovich, Phil Jackson, Rudy Tomjonavic, Chuck Daly, K C Jones, Paul Westhead, or had a coach with championship experience backing them, Riley, Eric Spoelstra, K. C. Jones, or had been in championship positions before and lost a few, Larry Brown, Rick Carlisle. The only championship winning coach in 30 years to win one that doesnt fall into one of these catagories is Doc Rivers, but one thing all these guys have in common is that they all had a roster with more than just 3 great players. Thats right, only 11 different coaches have won championships in the NBA since 1980.

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