LeBron vs. Jordan: debating the NBA’s greatest of all time

The NBA player who sits in the NBA’s throne for greatest of all time is not the one who goes by King James. All the accolades that have been heaped on the shoulders of the polarizing superstar that is LeBron James are well earned, but the three-time MVP still has his work cut out for him if he seeks the crown that sets him apart from the other elite players in NBA history.

Michael Jordan is rightfully hailed as basketball’s GOAT. He embodies every characteristic that the greatest needs: elite technical skills, incredible athletic ability, and the potential to take over games as an individual. He transcended basketball and brought it to a level of popularity previously unseen by the game. No one can take that away from him, and LeBron will never be able to accomplish that same feat.

But in terms of on-court prowess, LeBron James has the ability to dethrone Michael Jordan as the greatest player that the NBA has ever seen. And with one ring in his pocket, LeBron can now strive to immortalize himself in basketball history. Through a comparison of what both have already accomplished and some thoughts of what is to come for LeBron, there very well may be a new king in the near future.

First, a statistical comparison of Michael and LeBron:

Per game statistics
LeBron James
Michael Jordan
FG percentage
3PT percentage
eFG percentage

These regular season numbers show the remarkable equality between the two players. LeBron certainly needs to have the longevity of MJ, which is undoubtedly history yet to be written, but these guys are nearly equal in all categories. LeBron’s PRA (points, rebounds, and assists combined) equate to 41.7. Jordan is virtually identical, at 41.6.

Jordan has an edge in scoring ability, but LeBron’s overall offensive game is also based on a guard’s ability to facilitate.

The number that should strike you as most shocking is three-point percentage. LeBron is often criticized for being a one-dimensional scorer whose sheer strength propels him to the basket, but he has a slightly higher 3PT percentage than Jordan. LeBron is often encapsulated in what people think he should be—in part probably with a desire to defend Jordan’s legacy. But looking at the numbers provides the foundation for the argument that one day the two can likely be prepared.

Stats are the ticket to come in the door to the palace. But there is more to be done to overthrow the king.

Defensively, Jordan has a DPOY award to his name—something LeBron has yet to add to his résumé. But nobody in their right mind would say Jordan is a far superior defensive player. At 6’8”, the 250-pound monster can compete with big men like David West in the 2012 NBA playoffs. Not only that, but LeBron has proven he can defend the quickest players in the NBA. Remember the game when he shut down the 2011 NBA MVP, point guard Derrick Rose?

As LeBron said himself, defending power forwards and centers is taxing because of the physicality down low that is not necessary as a perimeter defender. Yet he still managed to put up staggering offensive numbers in 2012, when called upon to defend forwards/centers.

And at 6’6”, Michael Jordan can never claim that diversity in ability to defend all five positions on the court. Even 6’9” point guard Magic Johnson was able to play the center position at a high level on the NBA’s biggest stage. (The two MJ’s both roughly weighed 220 pounds.)

The edge defensively goes to LeBron—he can defend every position on the floor. Enough said.

The true discrepancies between these two players come in with playoff pedigrees and awards. Jordan is still head and shoulders above LeBron when it comes to this comparison:

LeBron James
Michael Jordan
1x NBA champion
6x NBA champion
1x NBA Finals MVP
6x NBA Finals MVP
3x MVP
5x MVP
8x All-Star
14x All-Star
NBA Rookie of the Year
NBA Rookie of the Year
1x scoring champion
10x scoring champion
6x All-NBA First Team
10x All-NBA First Team
4x All-Defensive First Team
9x All-Defensive First Team

LeBron has his work cut out for him to get on Michael’s level here. But in the nine-plus seasons that LeBron has been in the NBA, he not only has room before he catches up to Jordan, but he has time. Jordan’s 15-season career was shortened by his brief baseball stint, so if he stays healthy, LeBron very well could have a longer NBA career than Jordan did.

For the sake of argument, let’s give LeBron James nine more seasons—which is (hopefully for NBA fans) an underestimation. If he wins titles in three of those seasons, that puts him at four. And whenever LeBron wins a ring, that gives him a Finals MVP, too. There is no way that LeBron wins a title as the second best player on his team. He’s the best player in the game.

Three more MVPs is not an outrageous prediction for LeBron either, which puts him at six. The rest of the numbers will likely even out through the course of LeBron’s career, perhaps even giving him the edge.

The only exception to this is the scoring titles. LeBron James will never come near Jordan’s ten titles and that is in no way a pre-requisite for the discussion of these two players. LeBron has teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh—players whose career PPG averages are 25 and 20, respectively. And this plays directly into LeBron’s sensational ability to create offense not only for himself but also for his teammates. Jordan only ever looked to one other player to create offense (Scottie Pippen). Toni Kukoc and John Paxson helped spread the floor for Jordan but really Jordan was option 1, 2, and 3…and for good reason!

This leads to an argument that must be addressed: well, you might say, since LeBron is more of a facilitator and all-around player, he should be compared to Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson, not Michael Jordan.

Sure, the comparison could be made since the Big-O averaged a triple double one season and was less than half a rebound or assist away from averaging one in all of the first four seasons of his career from 1961-64. The problem arises when looking at the era that Robertson played in. Statistics were staggering compared to today’s game. Furthermore, Robertson was not even the best player in the 60s: Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain each took home four NBA MVPs during the 60s.

In terms of playing style, compare these two all you want but the fact is this: LeBron is the best player in his generation. Oscar Robertson was no higher than the third best of his generation.

As for Magic Johnson, the comparison again can be made, but really who cares? Michael was the best player of his generation and LeBron is the best player of his generation. And if we’re going to compare the greatest player of all time, a pre-requisite is undoubtedly being the best player of your generation.

So, in this hypothetical situation that I have drawn up, LeBron has four Finals championships, four Finals MVPs, and six regular season MVP awards. He would probably surpass Jordan in All-NBA First Team and All-NBA First Defensive Team, too.

These numbers would put LeBron on equal footing with Jordan. Now, to consider who is better overall involves looking at some of their best playoff performances. Granted, in order for LeBron to be in the same discussion as Jordan, he will have a larger body of work to compare to but for now comparing LeBron’s best two playoff performances to Jordan’s will prove just how close these guys really are.

LeBron has two spots in the top 10 greatest NBA playoff performances of all time. Jordan has three—or only one more in six more seasons. Again, this is absolutely not to say that at this point LeBron is better but rather to just put it in perspective. Time is on LeBron’s side.

Now to look at the two best playoff performances in each players’ career:

The “flu game” is something that has immortalized Jordan. Commercials vie for this moment, coaches use it as motivation, and it lives on as the definition in the NBA of perseverance. In Game 5 of the NBA Finals in 1997 vs. the Utah Jazz, Jordan put up 38 points in 44 minutes, along with seven rebounds, five assists, three steals, and a block. The pictures of him helped off the court and sipping Gatorade with a towel over his head are engrained in every NBA fans memory. It was historic.

LeBron’s performance in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference finals was at least as memorable. 48 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and two steals in 50 minutes played. He threw down dunk after dunk, a signature of LeBron (and a reason everybody wants to see him in the dunk contest on All-Star weekend).

But the most memorable part was that he scored 29 of the final 30 points of the game. Against the Pistons.

I disagree with ESPN on this one, I’d take LeBron’s performance over Jordan’s. 29 of the final 30 points in the game? I’d love to see a basketball performance where someone was more unstoppable than this at the time when it matters most (fourth quarter and overtime).

Jordan’s Game 2 of the 1986 Eastern Conference first round was another defining moment in his career. Celtics Hall of Famer uttered seven of the most famous words in NBA history when asked about that game: “that was God disguised as Michael Jordan.” Jordan could fill up the stat sheet, too: playoff scoring record of 63 points in 53 minutes with five rebounds, six assists, three steals, and two blocks. And coming off a season that was largely lost to injury…it was remarkable.

Maybe somewhere Derrick Rose is watching footage of this game, getting some ideas of his own…

LeBron’s most amazing playoff performance came this year, in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics in Boston. I say this with complete seriousness: LeBron had the pressure of his career heaped on him in one game. The Heat were one game away from elimination and the criticism would have landed squarely on LeBron’s shoulders. LeBron haters were warming up their LeChoke chants. Skip Bayless was ready to rant.

45 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists later, the Heat moved on to Game 7. LeBron shot a nearly impossible 19 of 26. And it wasn’t just dunks and drives, as LeBron has proven he is best at. It was jumpers, banks, post-up shots, even three pointers. Another iconic performance.

Let me use a baseball analogy to put this performance in perspective:

The 2004 Boston Red Sox were fighting 86 years of failed history when they were playing the Yankees in the ALCS. Similarly, LeBron was facing a career with zero championships in the 2012 ECF. The Red Sox had their back to the wall in Game 4 of the ALCS, and like the Heat, it was win or go home. Facing Alex Rodriguez, the best hitter in the game (he went yard in Game 4, too, even though he has come to be known as a playoff choker), and Orlando Hernandez, a former Cy Young Award winner, it was looking bleak. But the Red Sox pulled it off, winning four straight games against the Yankees.

It was unprecedented. Literally, such a feat had never been accomplished before. The takeaway from this that is relevant to the comparison to LeBron: the 2004 World Series champion Boston Red Sox were not defined by their sweep of the Cardinals in the World Series. The comeback in the ALCS vs. the Yankees was the propeller that flew the Red Sox to the Promised Land.

Similarly, LeBron’s Game 6 performance made the statement that he had championship talent and desire. The argument that this performance was diminished because it wasn’t in the Finals does not hold up for the same reasons that the 2004 ALCS defined the eventual champion Red Sox.

It’s the path through adversity that defines the champion, not just the grand finale.

For those very reasons, I’ll take LeBron’s Game 6 performance over Jordan’s Game 2 or flu game. As for “clutch” storybook endings, LeBron and Jordan both have theirs. Somehow this is a requirement to be considered the greatest of all time because you need a moment that even non-basketball fans can say ‘wow, that guy is special.’ Jordan’s got the crossover of Bryon Russell when he sunk the free throw line jumper in the 1998 NBA Finals and LeBron’s got the fade-away three-pointer at the end of regulation in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.


Both were moments that you could capture in seconds and realize something about these guys just was not normal.

As for overall “clutchness,” you can argue until the next Jordan or LeBron comes (if they ever do), that Jordan was more clutch for such-and-such reason but again, the numbers show the pair are surprisingly close in this regard—while Jordan still does have an edge.

Chasing 23 names all of LeBron’s clutch shot makes (5) and attempts (12) through May 2012 which puts him at a 42 percent success rate. Jordan was 9 of 18 in his career in such situations, or a 50 percent success rate. Again, let’s give LeBron his full career but the dismissal of LeBron from the playing field of Jordan as GOAT is unwarranted and founded in 1) a desire to protect history or 2) simply a hatred of LeBron James.

LeBron James has room to go before he can be in the consideration with Michael Jordan as the greatest player ever to hit the court. And even after both have retired, not even a judge could satisfy both sides unless LeBron goes on an absolutely historic tear to match his “not one, not two, not three, not four…” claim. While I personally think that was merely hyperbole, he did earn himself a lot of disrespect in that first public party in South Beach.

For now, Jordan is clearly the best. But let’s marvel at LeBron James’ basketball talent and be open to the consideration that we just might be watching the greatest player of all time. Jordan earned the king’s crown, but LeBron has time left in his career to usurp the throne.

If you liked this comparison, check out our series of comparisons that includes: Kobe vs. LeBronJordan vs. Kobe, and Kobe vs. Duncan.


  1. For the most part I agree with you, but just wanted to comment on "clutchness". LeBron has a finals series (2011) in which he truly disappeared. It wasn't his shooting percentage that was the worst part (both Kobe and even Jordan have had bad shooting games), but it was his demeanor. He looked absolutely terrified of the moment, and was content to standing in the corner and watching his teammates take the last second shots. That was ugly. At this point, is he past that? Absolutely. In no way did he seem afraid of the moment during his championship run, and he completely deserved his finals MVP. His Game 6 against Boston was one of the greatest moments in basketball history, in my opinion. However, I still feel that his 2011 finals must be mentioned when comparing him to the all time greats. It was ugly He may still usurp Jordan, but still, it was ugly. :/

  2. That's definitely a valid point. As long as he can bury that ugly performance in the past with performances like those in his 2012 championship run, he can certainly prove his worthiness as the greatest of all time. Part of the thing that we love sports for is the ability to overcome not only the odds but also the personal struggles. LeBron struggled with the spotlight in 2011 - in part to the pressure that he heaped on himself by moving to South Beach. One title later, he has shown that he has grown and been able to handle the pressure.

    But, of course, in order to catch Jordan he needs to continue putting in the work season after season to get to that level. Phil Jackson said himself that LeBron has the tools to be the greatest, but "it becomes more difficult, with each one you win." It'll be interesting to see how LeBron's career unfolds with 2011 always in the back of his mind.

  3. And as for that 2012 ECF Game 6 against Boston...I went even further than calling it one of the greatest in basketball history. As you read, I'd put it higher than any of Jordan's performances.

  4. How can you compare game six of the 98 nba finals for a 3 peat against the best team in the nba that year with Malone as the league 1 or 2 best player and in his prime( who won the MVP in 97 and 99 2nd in votes behind Jordan in 98) Utah jazz game winning shot after a clutch lay up forcing Utah to have to score and clutch steal game winning shot to Lebron James shotts in the eastern conference game 2 vs the 3rd seed that year. Lebron team was 1st seed that year and was the favor to win the east. They lost that series in 6 games. Orlando lost to Kobe's laker 4-1 in the final. Perhaps that lost saved Lebron legacy to play Kobe. It's funny how these things play out, because if Lebron lost to Kobe in the final. The discussion gets really pushed back. But seriously squeezing nonsense clutch moment that are not on the same level just makes this seem like a bias article like many others. I mean that Orlando game winner isn't even compared to Jordan 97 game 1 final game winner. Finals game six vs ECF game two..... Really. You got to be totally in love with Lebron or really hate Jordan to compare Lebron only game winner that even has any meaning to Jordan last shot as a bulls game winner that won his 6th title. the stats you compare now also just disadvantage Jordan. Why not include Lebron free throw stats in there, turnover stats, and playoff stats, final stats? On top of that, comparing 15 seasons to 10 seasons is a disadvantage to to both, Jordan would accomplish more. Jordan stats declines with age esp with two seasons where he played for the wizards at age 39 and 40. Lebron stats will decrease after 30 and to point out that he doesn't win scoring titles because he share with wade and bosh is just a way to make Lebron sound really good as if he could've won scoring title if he was alone. 7 years with the cavs where he was the only star and he won 1 scoring title. So it's obviously not the reason why he doesn't win those titles. To say Lebron is better at defender just because he can play four vs Jordan can guard three is just an opinion. If stats is what you go by the. Jordan blocks more, steals way more with bunch of steal titles under his name and dpoy to prove it while winning MVP the same year meaning he was the best on both end of the floor. Lebron can play five is an overstatement, when has he guarded an center for an entire game like magic did. He shut down derek rose in the playoff but got burn by John Lucas in a game....

  5. Probably don't even know who that is and that's he point. Media takes one highlight to make Lebron look as god and that's fine. That's their job and that's marketing to make nba seems incredible again. These same article that try's to be non bias always comes up and it's the same nonsense. Kobe vs Jordan was all over the place when Kobe had a 3 peat and was so young and everyone thought he would surpass Jordan. 17 season later... Still trying. It's not comparible anymore. Anyone born in the mid 90s will simply believe Lebron is the goat regardless if his stats is even matching up or won any rings at all. Magic and bird were the best player in the 80s Jordan was the best player in the 90s, Kobe was the best player in the 00s and Lebron will probably be the best player in the 10s unless someone takes that from him. People might want to challenge those statements but magic 5 rings bird 3 rings 80s to 90s which they played each other twice. Jordan won six titles in eight years in the 90s. Retired in 95 98 99. Kobe won five titles and went to the finals 7 times from 00 to 10. Saying shaqs title is the same thing when people say its wade and bosh title. I mean non of these things matter who is on your team because as much as Jordan can't do it without pippen it's pippen can't do it without Jordan, shaq can't win without Kobe, Kobe can't win with out shaq and they both won without each other. Lebron took the cavs to the final and got swept but the credit goes but he has no body and still took them to the finals, well so did Allen iverson and he actually won one game. When does the simple truth began? If you like apples you ain't gonna like orange no matter how much good things you hear about orange. It's just an opinion. The only good point of the article is that you state the obvious that you can't compare Lebron until his career is over and that's when you should have ended it. You then go and Compare it by saying well Lebron have six more years at least and he can very well be.... No he hasn't, it's simple he has one ring, one scoring title. So when majority of his accomplishment and majority of the stats that matters are all greater than Jordan's not almost or it's close... When it actually is better in 51 percent of everything then no he is not better than Jordan. Close. So is 30 other hall of famer. The story for Jordan is just a fairy tale that came true and inspired Lebron and Kobe. Kobe story don't sound good, Lebron story is even uglier. Greatest scorer in reg season is Jordan, wilt is an hairline behind. Greatest scorer in playoff is Jordan. Greatest scorer in finals, is Jordan. Those are facts and stats. If stats is what you want to measure by, greatest passer is magic, greatest rebounder is wilt, greatest blocker is Hakeem, you go down the all time list rather is it you want to go by avg per game, or total scoring... Lebron James is simply not on the list yet. Russell is the greatest winner. Point blank. But now you want to say all around player so you take PER, Jordan is on both career Reg season, playoffs, finals career. So where can the argument really be for Lebron? Better, best, means matter. Not close or almost. So just stop saying you're not comparing when you know you just can't compare yet but really really wish you can. If Lebron don't repeat the title... Then what? Then Lebron accomplish more at 27 (9season) vs Jordan 27 (5season, one injuried 18games) means absolutely nothing since Jordan accomplished more at 28, and 29 and 30? Lebron fans just set them self up for a death trap to make a stupid comparison for age by age. When its all said and done, it's either you're better or you're not. Close and almost is.. Close and almost. Next.

  6. Loved the article man. When you get a chance check out mine on my website: http://thesportsmindonline.com/nba/nba-is-lebron-the-next-jordan-or-better/

  7. First of all, James is definitely to be considered one of the best of all times. No question. Stats aside though, James will never meet Jordan's intensity and killer instinct. That completely set him apart! If Lebron had that trait he would be a freak above all. Also, Lebron has had moments where he has seemed to play half-heartily. Jordan NEVER did that.

    Lebron is fantastic but a few points no one seems to talk about.

    I sure miss the Jordan era! Basketball just hasn't been the same since.

  8. I think people tend to get different kinds of intensity confused. Jordan was outwardly intense whereas LeBron has kind of a quiet intensity and more of a laid back personality. He is visibily having more fun on the court than the likes of Kobe and Jordan - they truly only cared about winning, almost like an addiction (and for them, it worked). I completely disagree that LeBron plays half-heartedly, again he has a different kind of intensity and when you average 27-8-7, I think the numbers speak for themselves.

    As for missing the Jordan era, I agree that basketball hasn't been the same...it's BETTER! People care more about it and the competition is better overall.

  9. Never heard you mention that LeBron had a knack for disappearing in big games. In the entire 2010 series against Boston and the 2011 Finals. Do you just erase that from your selective memory to justify his GOAT candidacy? Truth be told, he was out of the running the moment he joined D-Wade. He might be the most efficient, best all-around talent the league has ever scene, but he is not the greatest. Despite having a great year, he never had the aura of invincibility; despite having better teammates, the Heat are not pushing 70 wins, no?

    Stats really favor LeBron, given his age and all, I'll give you that. But what MJ did on the floor transcends stats.

    see also: http://cesc-pistol.blogspot.com/2013/02/on-jordans-50th-lebrons-streak-and-goat.html

  10. I am utterly at a loss. LeBron's performance did not come close to the effect of winning FOUR STRAIGHT GAMES. He won ONE by himself, do not try to credit him for the fact that he had a complete team, homecourt advantage, and a stellar supporting cast for winning that series.

    Furthermore, do not try to make the comparison if he only has four rings. Last I checked, 6/6=perfect. If LeBron wants to be in the conversation, he needs to make up for the two massive shits he took on the finals in 2007 and 2011 respectively. 4 and 2 in the NBA Finals does not compare to 6 and 0.

    Lastly, 63 points is an NBA record. Neither he nor LeBron won their respective series in the games you mentioned. Should I mention again....SIXTY-THREE FUCKING POINTS. LeBron's best postseason performances don't even touch 50. Get off the fucking bandwagon, stop sniffing glue. There is no conversation to be made, stop trying. LeBron is eons away from being the GOAT.

  11. You call LeBron quiet, yet the guy has had more media faux-pas in the last two years than Jordan ever had. The guy is a narcissistic egomaniac, his intensity is completely irrelevant.

    The competition is no better. You are biased because you never saw the Knicks, Pistons, or Celtics as perennial powerhouses. The elite teams that exist now were weak back then, and the teams that were strong back then are weak now.

  12. He WAS an egomaniac. The funny thing is that everybody seems to have forgotten how much of an egomaniac MJ was. Nobody tops the things that he did. More importantly, LeBron has changed a lot since his days in Cleveland and even since Year 1 in Miami. While you're right that there were powerhouses back then, the overall competition is better now in that there are more teams that are good (or great) teams: Miami, San Antonio, OKC, LA Clippers, Memphis, Indiana, Denver, the list goes on... No longer is it just like the 3 teams that you mentioned that are good, there's more than twice that.

  13. The Jordan era is still the best. When Jordan left the NBA, its viewership had gone about 20%. Jordan had that effect and I doubt LeBron ever will. In terms of skill, tenacity and leadership, Kobe or Durant are closer to Jordan than LeBron. This article has to factor in the 'intangibles' and not just the stats. That's what sets the true legends apart from the hype though I admit that would be hard to measure.

  14. 6 of his is perfect because MJ made it to the Finals only when he had an excellent, veteran playoff-worthy surrounding cast. In Cleveland, LeBron had absolutely nobody. You can't argue that. In his first year in Miami, he wasn't ready and that's how it worked out. He came back last year and tore it up. This year all he's doing is clearly leading the MVP race (again) and in the midst of a historic NBA streak. Who cares that MJ was perfect? He didn't have the supporting cast that LeBron was dealing with.

    This brings me to another point: "oh, LeBron chased a ring and left his team." Yes, he did and you know what? Who cares! Kobe and MJ both had great supporting casts and owners who were willing to dish out the money. They played in big time cities. LeBron didn't, simple as that. 63 points is a great story, but look at LeBron's playoff game vs the Pistons where he finished with 29 of the last 30 points. MJ never did that and that's a whole lot more impressive than 63. LeBron is on his way to the GOAT.

  15. FIrst, a comment on your article because you disabled commenting on your blog: you said "But he never quit in any of those playoffs losses either. He never said, 'I'm sick of losing in Chicago, I want to play with Barkley or Hakeem.'" Like I've already addressed, this is pointless because LeBron had Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall, Anderson Varejao... (before he was good/injured), see the trend? Michael had one of the 50 greatest players of all time, great three point shooters, and solid big men! That's why this argument that LeBron changing teams somehow removes him from consideration is bogus. Look at Kobe, he wasn't the best player on his team for 3 rings. Look at Magic, he had Kareem. Look at Larry, he had DJ and other excellent teammates. Look at Bill Russell, he had a lineup STACKED with HOFers. In Cleveland, LeBron had nobody even close to that.

    I haven't forgot about the LeChoke of the 2011 Finals, but that does not define his career. Could Kobe or MJ have even taken a roster like the 07 Cavs to the Finals? I'd say no but the point is we have no factual comparison because MJ and Kobe never did that with a comparable squad! (Or Magic, Larry...take your pick.) LeBron may have been amazed that he finally had a team that could go as far as it did because he was used to the pathetic team he had in Cleveland. Fact of the matter is that he sure has backed up his greatness last year and this year. So no, LeBron is not as great as MJ now but if he keeps up his current pace for a reasonable number of years there's no reason he can't be.

  16. "Since 2007, NBA ratings have steadily risen, thanks to the resurgence of nationally recognized NBA teams, their star power, and their annual presence in the NBA Finals. Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals had the best rating for a basketball game in the contemporary NBA on AVC era, and the 2011 Finals held steady in the ratings department as well. Both series drew over a 10 rating, beating the World Series in consecutive years for the first time ever."

    And to say that Kobe and Durant are closer to Jordan than LeBron is fallacious and you didn't back it up with any evidence. Factor in the intangibles? I talked about clutch stats and games. If you want to talk about intangibles, first define what you mean. Then, back it up. If you're simply going to "admit that would be hard to measure" than you haven't even begun to disprove my point.

  17. You said, he chased a ring. Jordan said it best when he stated that he would rather play the best competition than join them. That is the instinct that Lebron lacks and will continue to lack. You claim Jordan had a great supporting cast? Pippen was the only player but what Jordan did each night was make everyone else play better. Again that competitive spirit that is unmatched. Now everyone wants to play what ifs so here's one for ya. What if Jordan didn't retire to play baseball? I'm sure he'd have 8 rings instead of 6 with more MVP's, Scoring Titles, ADOY, and all the accolades that come with being a champion... what if?

  18. "You said, he chased a ring. Jordan said it best when he stated that he would rather play the best competition than join them. That is the instinct that Lebron lacks and will continue to lack." No, LeBron just doesn't express his competitive edge as much as Jordan did. Nothing wrong with that but it's just your opinion that LeBron lacks this "instinct" you talk about.

    If he didn't retire, MJ would have had LESS than six rings. He needed a challenge and he accomplished everything (in his eyes) after that three-peat. If he had remained in the league, he would have had less than six rings because he would have been less motivated. So yes, what if?

  19. Lebron lost his right to be called the GOAT the minute he teamed up with wade and bosh. He'll always be rememebered as the great player who teamed up with wade and bosh to win a title. Too many asterisks and foot notes in his career and don't tell me that lebron wasn't ready in the 2011 finals - 2 finals appearances, 8 seasons in the NBA all with post season trips, 2 MVPs they just won the eastern conference plus his team had 3 out of the 5 best players in the series (Dirk had a far worse team). You using the excuse that lebron wasn't ready in 2011 only proves my point that MJ is on a different league, lebron can rack up all the stats possible and he still won't measure up to MJ simply bec MJ was ready to play in every game be it a regular season, post season or finals game and by the way he never quit under pressure.

  20. You're crazyyyyyy. Jordan didn't retire because he lacked motivation. He went to play Baseball after his father was murdered and his father's dream was to see Michael play baseball. Less than six rings? You even admit that Jordan had that instinct, that obvious killer instinct, EVERYTIME he stepped on the court. Jordan only cared about winning. What, would he have decided just phoned in the next five seasons because he had 'no motivation?'

    Your article makes logistical sense, and people that say that LeBron can't match Jordan by the end of his career are kidding themselves, but now you're just grasping at straws. You're automatically giving LeBron 4 more rings and 4 more Finals MVPs, which is laughable. It's fine to speculate, but you're saying that speculation of Jordan not retiring means he would have less rings? That's ludicrous.

    Lebron can surpass Jordan, but it will take playing at the level he is at for the next ten years or so. And even then, it's hard to top Jordans 6/6 finals, 10x scoring titles, 5MVPs, and numerous moments throguhout his career where he literally defined the sport. Who's to say he won't get injured, maybe severely? Who's to say another group of superstars won't get together and block him several times? Who's to say that the next time someone like Durant gets to the finals after his first taste won't be supremely motivated? Besides the fact that Wade is hitting a wall and is losing noticeably losing his physicality. What happens when Lebron gets down to him, an oft injured Chris Boss and a bunch of scrubs? Who's to say Lebron won't lose 'motivation,' and finish with less than 5 rings because he has that first monkey off his back? Lebron has proven he cannot necessarily elevate his team single handily to rings the way Jordan did, he has proven he can disappear on the big stage and he has alienated much of the NBA with his ring chasing and by putting his foot in his mouth.

    In the end, everything about this topic is speculation, but you can't fault people for doubting you automatically giving Lebron 4 more rings and then turn around and tell a guy Jordan would have finished with less than 6 if he never retired.

  21. At no point did I ever automatically give LeBron 4 more rings and Finals MVPs. I threw out some numbers as a "hypothetical situation" which are the exact words in the article. I also never said that MJ would have "no" motivation. I was simply countering a point that Jonathan made. Since he had virtually accomplished everything by that first three-peat, he may have been less motivated if he didn't leave basketball. Key word: MAY. Just like Jonathan said he was "sure" that MJ would have 8 rings (and more), I believe that it's reasonable to say that it could have easily gone the other way.

    Another thing that I don't think is relevant in these comparisons is Jordan's 6 for 6. While it is incredibly impressive, he went to the Finals when he had solid supporting casts. He never had the abysmal 07 Cavs. LeBron hoisted a team and a city by himself which is something that even MJ did not do (Pippen, etc.).

    All of the things that you mentioned in your second-to-lasat paragraph are entirely plausible. The purpose of this article was to lay claim to the legitimacy of this debate and discuss what LeBron needs to do to get to the GOAT.

  22. Kobe and MJ had the luxury of All Stars coming to them (if they weren't already there). LeBron didn't have that ability so to say that him leaving CLE somehow invalidates his place in this debate is ludicrous.

  23. totally agree with this post. how can you say Lebron is a better defender? has he guarded the likes of Pat Ewing, Mourning, Admiral and the Dream? IMO, he can't even guard Malone or Barkley. I haven't seen a lot of games during my childhood because it's not regularly televised back then, but i know how great those names were without the media hype. Names that never came close to having a championship because MJ was around. Why didn't you include the fact that MJ never lost a championship series and LBJ got swept? you never stated that MJ retired because he thinks there was nothing more to prove. if he hadn't left, you could also easily assume the BULLS won 2 more and MJ had +2 finals MVPs. people right now are building up players like they are celebrities. there are tons of videos showing their highlights. during the 80s and early 90s t

  24. "Why didn't you include the fact that MJ never lost a championship series and LBJ got swept?" Because it's irrelevant. MJ had the surrounding pieces when he went to the Finals. He lost plenty of times before the Finals so the 6 for 6 is highly overrated.

    "You never stated that MJ retired because he thinks there was nothing more to prove." See a comment that I responded to earlier today. I agree, he retired for that reason and if he didn't, it's very possible that his resume wouldn't have included 6 rings. If he lacked motivation that he previously had, who's to say that he would have won as many titles?

    "Lebron eliminated the competition by joining WADE and BOSH." We can both name at least a handful of players better than both Wade and Bosh - if not more.

  25. you shouldn't compare these two. they are both the best but they are different in their ways of playing man. jordan is amazing. LeBron is king. Both of them rule the basketball court during their eras. no harm done. just speaking the truth man.

  26. Jordan didn't have the luxury of all stars coming to him, they drafted pippen and grant and he and the team developed them into all stars so your notion that all stars came to him or that they were already there is crazy, obviously you weren't able to watch any of that teams play live and how about lebron's readiness to play in the 2011 finals. Do you still think he wasn't ready to play or was it just his mental toughness? He has a glaring tendency to play half heartedly which was never evident in all of the greats - magic, bird, barkely, dr j. Stats play a big part in determing who is good and who is great but its heart, toughness and attitutde that sets MJ apart from all of the players being compared to him. Can you identify any foot note or asterisk in MJ's career? Maybe one - he might have won 8-9 rings if he didn't retire in 94-95 and 98

  27. That's exactly what I mean by the All-Stars came to him. They came to him in the same way that Westbrook and Harden came to Durant. That didn't happen for LeBron. And his performance in the 2011 Finals doesn't need to be further analyzed than it already has. He played terribly but he redeemed himself the very next year. This glaring tendency to play half-heartedly is a thing of the past.

    And I talked about this idea that Michael could have won 8 rings if he didn't retire that first time in previous comments. I'll repeat the main point: he could have easily won less than 6 as he could have won more than six. Speculation is speculation.

  28. Yes MJ did have the luxury of all the stars coming to him, whether it was through trade, drafts, or signings. I'm not sure why you think pippen getting drafted somehow adds to MJ's legacy, as it only helped ensure that MJ didn't leave to another team. The simple fact is that LeBron did more with less. As mentioned before, who could have taken the 07 Cavs to the finals aside from him. This 6 for 6 in the Finals is just some silly stat included to adjust GOAT criteria towards His Airness. Right now LeBron is the bull in the China shop of a much more powerful NBA, tearing up record after record, and the scary part is that just when we think he's reached the peak of human basketball, he plays another season, ignites another stat sheet, shatters several more records. Most athletes peak at around his age, or a little later, but his genetics seem unnatural. It's very likely he's got several more years of playing at an astronomical level. We'll just have to wait and see

  29. Yes your right speculation is speculation so until lebron wins another 4-5 titles there is no point in comparing him to MJ. Your hypothetical situation where lebron ends up with 4 titles and 6 MVPs is exactly what it is a hypotheses. He can easily end up with just 2 or maybe even 1. So until that happens

  30. How can the NBA be more powerful when you have under 500 teams reaching the playoffs, no true dominant centers, a weak EC and weak ass fouls that are geared to protect the NBA's current stars. If a prime shaq or MJ played in this era they would have easily averaged 40+ pts a game. What shattered records are you talking about last i checked the most points in a reg season game still stands at 100, playoff pts record is still 63, 72-10 is still there, 33 game win streak is still intact can you mention any of the records that were shattered by Lebron or the heat?

  31. I'm curious with these pieces.
    @elijahbandb:disqus You seem to flip your views in the comment quite quickly when asked of current stats. I wanted to point just a couple things out though I have read.
    1. MJ left to play baseball because they spoke about it prior to his death.

    2. What if Lebron had to deal with what MJ had at his "peak". (someone close's death, retirement, game trade then return) do you think he will be able to play like he does now?
    3. Why not keep the ages together; compare stats of age marks and see the differences? as mentioned before, you can only wait and see what happens in the future for Lebron's *final* stats

    @facebook-100000164406058:disqus The reason 6 of 6 comes up is NOT just to push the point that it was perfect but rather to prove it hasn't been an easy accomplishment and it hasn't been topped yet. Oh and btw, a bull in a china shop is quite claim since it doesn't rampage, I hope you learn something, as for a more "powerful NBA" thats a stretch, think of how MANY legends came out of the past 80s-90s and look at the '05+ Legends... I don't think their goals at being better make them powerful, just they want their hand to shine, not for the team but for the press.

    I'm sure it will be a close call on if Lebron can do: but as it stands, Lebron will tie with Jordan at the most but thats just my opinion

  32. Who is the nba more powerful now when you have under .500 teams in the playoffs, no true dominant centers, a weak EC, weak ass fouls geared towards protecting todays nba stars. If a prime shaq or MJ played in this league they would have easily ave 40++ pts. And what shattered records ade you talking about? Last i checked wilts 100, MJ's 63, the bulls 72-10 and the lakers 33 win streak are still intact. Can you name any record that lebron or the heat teared up recently? You should learn to filter

  33. The reason 6 of 6 comes up is....well, Wade was 100% in the Finals prior to 2011. Was that a testament to how good he was? No, not really. It's that he led his team to a championship. By your logic, had MJ had performed better and made it to the finals in '90 and lost to the Blazers, instead of losing to the Pistons in the ECF, he would be "tarnished", and this silly stat would never be brought up. Fact is, he's lost in the playoffs, and everything finally came together in '91. As for learning something, I've learned plenty watching both players, and as for a more powerful NBA, that's fact, not opinion, such as '80s and '90s players were "better". Team doctors and physical therapists acknowledge that there are more injuries due to today's players being "bigger, faster, and stronger" in their words. You want to claim they play better for the press, that's your speculation. Your opinion. As for MJ having a solid partner, why didn't he do it by himself like LeBron tried to with the Cavs?

  34. HAHAHA so you can what if but we can't?!?!?! HAHAHA this guy is obviously looking for attention. What you fail to realize is when LBJ went to the finals those two years he went through 0 competition. Jordan had to fight through a different NBA where rules didn't exist as they do now for the offense minded individuals. He had to go through the bad boys of the NBA, Pistons who were back to back champions, he had to go through the mighty Larry Bird and his crew who were recent champions, he had to go through one of the dirtiest and very talented teams in the Knicks, he had to go through one of the better shooting teams and the greatest shooter of all time in Miller and in the Pacers. Those are Hall of Famers and amazing teams, talent was spread out through the NBA so there wasnt just 3 or 4 really good teams, there was 12+. Because you didn't see it doesn't mean it didnt happen. I'm lucky enough to have seen both the Jordan era and James era and from my unbiased eyes and ears I know LBJ is no Jordan. You can play what ifs all you want, fact is, but the same exact age, Jordan accomplished SO much more, plain and simple...

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  38. I wonder why you didn't mention the fact that Kobe has a career 169 double doubles and 19 triple doubles to Michael's 51 and 1?

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  47. the problem I have with the the clutch between LJ and MJ comparison is this: MJ'S 3 clutches got him 3 rings and lebron's 29 pts got him goose egg. Racing analogy by Dom fast and the furios, "It doesn't matter if you win by an inch or a mile; winning's winning. " my qoute" it don't matter if you score 2, 29 or 82 or in WIlt's case 100. if you don't win. it doesn't matter. Stats is good and all but any stat will be worthless at the end if you don't win championship.... consider Ewing, Barkley and other NBA great the had great career without a ring.......

  48. Well then you must also believe that Robert Horry is greater than Kobe and LeBron. Winning's winning, right?

  49. Michael Jordan has 31 career triple-doubles. And 241 double-doubles.


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