The LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan debate has been going on for years now, but I don’t think the case for Lebron James has been ever been as good as it is right now, especially after last night. In his 15th season, LeBron James is doing things that are unbelievable. James is averaging nearly a triple-double (27.5 PPG/ 9.1 APG/ 8.6 RPG), hitting several buzzer-beaters this season alone, and turning a team that likely wouldn’t be in the playoffs without him into a favorite to win the Finals. What we are witnessing is something special.
To put things into perspective as to how amazing it is that he’s performing like this in his 15th season, Jordan’s 15th season was his last and his team missed the playoffs with a record of 37-45. Now, this isn’t to discount how great Michael Jordan was, but it may be the time to give LeBron James the title as the greatest basketball player of all time.
The Finals/ Playoffs Argument
Probably the most brought up comparison when talking about these players is their records in the Finals. Michael Jordan, of course, is a perfect 6 for 6 in the Finals while LeBron is 3 for 8. Most people use this stat against LeBron, but when you look at the landscape of the NBA now, compared to Jordan’s Finals run, it may hurt the case for Jordan.
When you look at the Finals comparison LeBron has actually played tougher competition, with less around him than Jordan. Sure, Jordan played in the Finals against players like Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, John Stockon, Karl Malone, and Magic Johnson. LeBron has had to play tougher teams, not specific players, in the Finals.
In the Finals, Lebron has played: a peak Spurs team, a Mavericks team that he honestly should have beaten, a Thunder team that housed two (soon to be three) future MVPs. Then, nearly the same Spurs team as before twice, except this time San Antonio had Kawhai Leonard. And most recently, three appearances against the Warriors. He lost the first one without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, his second best player being Matthew Dellavadoa. The next year he and the Cavs beat arguably the best basketball team of all time with a record of 73-9, not to mention the Cavs were down in the series 3-1. Then, last year losing to that same team, except with former MVP Kevin Durant added into the mix.
With the exception of the Mavericks, maybe it’s time to give Lebron a break on that 3-5 Finals record. Besides, I would think it would be nearly as accomplishing to reach the finals more times, in the same amount of tries as Micahel Jordan. Obviously winning the Finals is the ultimate goal, but in the postseason LeBron has actually fared better than MJ.
The Clutch Argument
For many years, Lebron wasn’t considered clutch and many people would have suggested that in the clutch they would rather have Jordan shooting the final shot. Jordan does indeed have “the shot” which is a lasting image, even to an 18-year-old who wasn’t around to see it. However, I think LeBron has solidified himself as the more clutch of the two this year alone. With multiple game-winners this season against the Timberwolves, Pacers, and last night against the Raptors, Lebron should be considered one of the most clutch players of all time. Especially in the postseason.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 6, 2018
Game-tying/go-ahead field goals with under 10 seconds left in the postseason:
Michael Jordan: 7/15 (47%)
Kobe Bryant: 5/22 (23%)
LeBron James: 12/23 (52%) ?
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) May 6, 2018
The Help Argument
Almost equally as brought up as the other two points when comparing these two great players is the teams that the had and how much help they got. Most like to argue that in order to get his first finals LeBron got bailed out by joining forces with D-wade and Bosh in Miami, later to be joined by Ray Allen to get his two finals in Miami. Then, to win his third ring Lebron had help with the services of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and J.R. Smith. But, let us not forget before Scottie Pippen got to the Bulls Michael Jordan couldn’t get out of the first round, while Lebron has never lost a first-round series. Even with his numerous rag-tag teams.
Even though LeBron did have help in winning his Finals, I cannot remember a case where great players didn’t help from other great players to win the finals. Jordan couldn’t without Pippen, Kobe couldn’t without Shaq, Duncan couldn’t without Parker or Manu, Steph couldn’t without Klay, you get the point.
This post was not to discount the greatness of Michael Jordan. Both players are great and while the discussion is now being legitimately had we should still appreciate the greatness of LeBron James while we still can. The discussion will always be there, but a player this special will not be. At the end of the day everyone has their opinion this is just mine, and to be honest both players are so great it may as well be considered a preference. With all that said, LeBron James being the G.O.A.T. is a real conversation now.