There’s A New Sheriff in the NBA
Ever since Michael Jordan retired in 2003 the NBA and its viewers have been searching for a player to come along and replace him as the greatest player of all time. There is no doubt that to this date he is by far the greatest to ever touch an NBA court. His list of achievements could go on forever. With 6 championship rings and 14 all-star game appearances he has the accolades that many organizations can’t even boast. He also led arguably the greatest Olympic team ever to a gold medal in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. This team was filled with other great talents such as Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, both of whom are Hall of Famers. But even when playing alongside these all-time greats it was always apparent that he was the best player on the court when playing with them. He is even fourth on the list of top scorers and third in most steals in a career. This shows that he was a well-balanced player who could do it all. My dad always makes the argument that, “you had to watch him live to really comprehend the skills that he had and the raw talent he displayed.” Many people who I have talked to about the Jordan debate say the same thing and don’t believe that he will ever be surpassed as the greatest player of all time. I disagree, not only do I think that it will happen, I believe that it has already happened, and the name that will own that title is LeBron James.
This is a very unpopular opinion within the NBA community because everyone is too stubborn to accept the fact that Michael Jordan isn’t the greatest to play anymore. People have built him up into this god like figure in their minds just because he was the first to ever do some of the stuff that he did. He was the first to dunk a ball from the free throw line and win Finals MVP in every single one of his Finals appearances. However, the fact is that LeBron has revolutionized the game in his career thus far as well. He has an incredible amount of skill and is an all-around beast on the court. Let’s start with the simple metrics and compare the two legends. According to Bruce Blitz on InsideTheHoops.com on their online forum, “Michael Jordan ran a 4.3 40-yard dash, and had a 48” vertical” and stood at 6’6” and 216 pounds (Blitz). Today LeBron stands at 6’8” and 240 pounds of pure muscle and ran, “4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash” and also has a, “40 inch vertical” according to Bleacher Report’s Cody Swartz (Swartz). This means that LeBron is doing almost all the same things, athletically, as Jordan was doing but with an extra 24 pounds. LeBron has an automatic advantage over Jordan already just by looking at these numbers. There is more to my argument than just this though.
LeBron’s current achievements within the league have him on track to beat out Jordan in some major charts. LeBron is one year away from tying the number of All-Star game appearances and is also one MVP award from tying Jordan’s number of times winning the prestigious award, and with LeBron as the fore runner according to the GM’s of other NBA teams, with half of them choosing him to win the award this upcoming season, per NBA.com. LeBron is also only 4,000 points behind Michael Jordan on the all-time points list and has already surpassed him on the assists list with 7,461 total assists. LeBron has shown no signs of slowing down either. According to ESPN last season he averaged his best field goal percentage and points per game since the ’13-’14 season with the Miami Heat. Considering this, there is no doubt that LeBron will continue to put up monster numbers and slowly climb up those lists that will help him surpass Jordan as the greatest of all time.
Fans that believe James is not going to pass Jordan as the greatest of all time say this because of one major reason. Jordan has 6 titles. James only has 6. If a championship ring is earned by the best players in the world then why does James only have 3? They even argue that Kobe Bryant is better than James just because Bryant has 2 more rings than James. This is the figurative “shield” that Jordan fans put up whenever talking about this debate. However, the stats are also against this argument. The teams that Jordan played against to win his Finals were significantly worse than the teams that LeBron has had to face in the Finals. And to add to that Jordan’s teams were also much better and had significantly more talent than James’ teams. This shows the road to Jordan’s rings was much easier and he didn’t have to put in as much work to win those titles in comparison to James. And while Jordan led his team to all their titles, he was also able to piggy back off other very talented players on the Chicago Bulls roster. Michael Jordan played with at least 6 other Hall of Fame caliber players. In James career he has played with maybe 4 other Hall of Fame players and that was not for an extended time. Most were only there for a year and then left. Also, if the argument being made is, that the best player has the most rings; then this title should technically belong to Bill Russell, owner of 11 championship rings. But everyone knows that the competition he played against back then was nowhere close to how the NBA is today. Therefore, it should be the same in the case of LeBron.
TheGruelingTruth.com has an entire list dedicated towards why LeBron will never be as good as Jordan. This shows how insane Jordan fans are, they will stop at nothing to disprove LeBron as a basketball player. Within this list they say that, “LeBron James is a turnover machine while Jordan took care of the ball” (Andruscavage). While this is a true statement it does not define LeBron as a player. Even though he does have a habit of turning the ball over frequently he makes up for it with his excellent defensive skills. He makes up for his turnovers by being the sole reason that the team does not score most times during the game.
Another argument they make is that LeBron can’t play a full season without sitting out a few games. It is true that LeBron has sat out at least 10 games in the last 3 seasons. Many view this as him being lazy, because Jordan would never do that, he was too competitive. But the thing is, is that James needs those games off in order to recover so that he can be fresh for the playoffs. Also Jordan retired for a whole season and a half and then came back to win three more championships. Nobody said that he was lazy for walking away just to come back. Jordan missed out on more games than James has in his whole career. And if Jordan hadn’t taken that time off, who knows how long he could’ve actually stayed in the NBA?
Michael Jordan made huge contributions towards the game. He earned his own shoe business, won championships in college and the NBA, and is even owner of the Charlotte Hornets nowadays. He also accomplished many other great feats during his tenure in the NBA. He even had his jersey number retired in Miami, where he never even played! He truly is one of the best to ever play the game and is a once in a lifetime type of player. Fans never thought that the day would come where someone surpassed him as the new “king”. But LeBron James is on the rise and looking to take that position on the throne. It is true that we will always want to see that epic one on one game between the two greats but sadly, we must depend on only statistics and numbers. It is not necessarily a bad thing that Jordan is being passed but rather a good sign for basketball. It means that it is continuing to churn out even better talent that is exciting to watch. Maybe in the future my son will be telling me about the upcoming all-time great and I’ll be the one arguing back and telling him that he, “had to watch James live to really comprehend the skills that he had and see the true talent he had”.
Andruscavage, Matt. “17 Reasons Why Michael Jordan Is Greater than LeBron James.” The Grueling Truth. N.p., 18 June 2017. Web. 16 Oct. 2017.
Blitz, Bruce. “Michael Jordan Ran a 4.3 40 Yard Dash, and Had a 48” Vertical!” Message Board Basketball Forum — InsideHoops. InsideHoops, 5 Mar. 2009. Web. 13 Oct. 2017.
“NBA History.” ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 11 Oct. 2017. Web. 13 Oct. 2017.
Schuhmann, John. “NBA.com 2017–18 GM Survey.” NBA.com. NBA Media, 02 Oct. 2017. Web. 13 Oct. 2017.
Swartz, Cody. “LeBron James: The NFL’s Ultimate Tight End.” Bleacher Report. Bleacher Report, 24 Mar. 2017. Web. 13 Oct. 2017.