I just want to start off by saying that I will not be digging too deep into this discussion. I will only take a look at this topic from a couple of angles, simply because we could go on for days. When you talk about these two great players, there are two angles you can look at: One, who is the better player? And two, who would you rather have on your team, or build a team around?
Lebron James came in to the NBA at 18 years old. For starters, that is an accomplishment that not many people have the chance of gettin. 44 to be exact. You have some of the greats such as Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett, and Moses Malone, which immediately puts Lebron in an elite category.
Jordan played three years of college basketball at North Carolina where he did exceptionally well. Over the course of his three years playing under the late great coach Dean Smith, Jordan averaged a little over 17 points, 5 rebounds, and a little under 2 assists. His freshman year he averaged 13.5 points, 1.8 assists, and 1.7 turnovers. Lebron as a rookie in the NBA averaged 20.9 points, 6 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Now let me stop you right there, because it might seem like I am already choosing Lebron over Jordan, but that is not what I am doing. I am simply stating facts, and putting things into perspective. So with that being said, lets fast forward.
Jordan is arguably the best scorer of all time. He also is overlooked for his defensive efforts. Let’s not forget Jordan won defensive player of the year in the 1987-88 season. He also played with two time defensive player of the year winner Dennis Rodman, and those years averaged 30 points. He also played with Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant who were tremendous players and defenders as well. And of course Lebron played with Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and now plays with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. So let’s exclude who they have played with because we aren’t talking about championships.
I realize I am rambling on and this is what I promised not to do. You can look up all this statistical information or simply listen to Nick Wright or Colin Cowherd. Even though I think we all know how these two feel about this discussion.
Part of my topic of discussion focuses on who is the better player overall. And I’ll give you a direct answer; Michael Jordan. But wait, let me explain why. I realize Lebron has surpassed Jordan in almost every stat line, but Jordan had a demeanor and mindset to him that I just simply can not see ever being matched. If you thought Kobe Bryant (who we will save for another discussion) had an assassins mentality, Jordan had triple that.
“I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying.”
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
These are direct quotes from Jordan and I think these directly correlate with his attitude and the way he approaches the game; as if he has nothing to lose. With Lebron, sometimes I feel like if he is almost scared and feels as if he has something to lose. The game of basketball is almost more mental than it is physical. But again these are my opinions people, the stats are all there in front of you.
But the story changes a little when it comes to who would you rather have on your team, and or build your team around. And my answer is Lebron James. For me, this was almost a no brainier. And maybe I’m a little biased because I grew up watching more of the Lebron era rather than Jordan’s (even though I did see a game as a kid when Jordan was playing on the Wizards).
Let’s look at why Lebron is better to build a team around: The man is 6’8″ 250 pounds. He is averaging almost 9 rebounds and assists, and 27 points per game. Only once in Jordan’s career has he averaged 8 assists and rebounds per game. Lebron can flat out play any position from point guard to center. If you watched the Celtics Cavs playoff series that just ended, you might have noticed almost every time Lebron switched off to guard a big man, whether it was Hortford or Olynyk, that either they didn’t score or they passed it away from the post. The man is a dominant force no matter where he is on the court.
Lebron is a mix between Magic Johnson, Dominique Wilkins, and even Jordan. But people like to argue that is not fair comparing Jordan and Lebron because they are two totally different players and positions. Fair enough, but Jordan was a shooting guard, and Lebron a small forward. So why is it Lebron’s 3 point and field goal percentage is better than Jordan’s? Lebron is shooting 34% from three point while Jordan shot 32%. Lebron’s overall field goal percentage is 50.1% while Jordan’s is 49%. Not to mention this current post season Lebron is having a field day, shooting 56% overall from the field and 42% from three point.
Oh damn. Did I just explain, unknowingly why Lebron is a better player?
Whatever side you choose to pick just know it is an ongoing topic that will never come to a conclusion. I’ll tell you one thing. If you are under the age of 20 you should not be having this conversation, because you are a ‘Lebron era baby’, and for those of you over the age of 30, we get it. You idolize and romanticize about Jordan more than anyone you ever dreamed of. So all I ask, from both sides, is to keep an open mind on this debate, because hey, let’s be real, Kobe Bryant is the real G.O.A.T.