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The Case that LeBron James is the G.O.A.T.


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 Ringer

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.

 

 

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.

Article written by Brent Wainscott

Twitter: @BrentW_KSR

64 responses to “The Case that LeBron James is the G.O.A.T.”

  1. Look Out Fireworks

    LeBron MAY be the better basketball player, but Michael Jordan did more for the NBA than any other player in history. To say there is tougher computing now, a big part of that is due to MJ and his contributions to the league.

    1. Look Out Fireworks

      Compitition**

    2. tiffincatfan79

      Before Bird and Magic, the NBA finals were on tape delay. They saved the league.

    3. ibescootch

      Competition*** ?

    4. mm40

      Jordan didn’t do more than Bird and Magic did for the league.

  2. karlitopequeno

    I think it would be foolish at this point to disagree that anyone is better. His game is more complete than Jordan’s and he is doing more with less – all granted.

    However, I would argue that over the past several years, the road to the Finals out of the Eastern Conference has been routinely easier for James than it was for Jordan. The Pistons were a dynasty at the start of Jordan’s time as a Bull, plus the Pacers, Knicks, and Hawks (and the Magic with Shaq) were tougher competition year in and year out than the Cleveland LeBron’s have usually had to handle.

  3. Kat 308

    7 championships

  4. UKLugo

    Anyone who thinks that James might be better than MJ just needs to go back and watch MJ again. It’s been too long since youve watched.

  5. GM1978

    Two completely different players

    Game on line: I’ll take Jordan 10/10

    1. tiffincatfan79

      Except Lebron has made more game winning shots and has a better shooting percentage than Jordan.

    2. 4everUKblue

      And except Jordan didn’t jump from one team to another to win his 6 rings….oh and Lebron has ……3 with two teams and counting?

    3. BigBogee

      Agree 100%

  6. bigbluebanana

    James is amazing, belongs on the Mount Rushmore of basketball, but I’d still take MJ if I was picking first. As good as LBJ is, in my opinion, it’s not even close. He’s as close as anyone can get to Jordan, but even that is still miles away.

  7. UKSupporter76

    What years did LBJ play at UK?

    1. Graczyk

      Don’t like the content …don’t read the article. Not that hard

    2. Look Out Fireworks

      I think it was in the late 40’s under Rupp, several years before his presidency.

    3. JoeMoney333

      Dude was a monster on the court. Crossing up people like he crossed up Vietnam.

  8. UKinIN

    You can’t compare players from different eras. You couldn’t even compare Jordan and Kobe. The NBA is just different. This is the Freedom of Movement NBA. It’s a NBA populated by kids. (Which is why rookies have the freedom to perform batter.). Last night LeBron hit a shot that would win H.O.R.S.E and he had just as much defense played on him. Go back and watch Jordan’s game winner vs. the Cav and watch how much he is grabbed. LeBron plays in a softer NBA. But saying that, Jordan and LeBron were both the best of their era and that’s the closest you can get to ranking them.

    1. callitlikeiseeit

      EXACTLY. If MJ was playing today, especially in this weak NBA East and with the rules how they are, he would average 50. Also don’t remember his teams losing by 30 plus when they were title contenders. MJ is way better than Lebron could dream of being. Bron Bron had to build his teams to win titles, hey Wade and Bosh lets hook up in Miami. When that started to fail back to Cleveland since they had Irving then he still needed to keep adding top players. MJ did it with his team, yes they had off season moves but did not to bring in players like Love, Bosh, Wade etc to win.

    2. DelrayCat

      This is a stupid argument. Just because today’s free agency allows players more control over their destinations, each team still operates under certain rules (like salary caps, contracts, etc.). Jordan had the best rebounder in the game (Rodman) who was better than Bosh, and maybe the best small forward at the time (Pippen) who was better than an aging D-Wade. The Bulls had a great team even without Jordan. And Lebron has won with less. Look at how poorly Jordan did in Washington with an inferior team.

    3. Mc12

      Jordan was 38 when he started in Washington. Rodman was a better defender and rebounder than Bosh, but Bosh is way more polished offensively. Wade was in his prime with Lebron in Miami

  9. Mc12

    When Jordan would drive to the hoop he had a chance of getting his head ripped off. Also, I think Jordan was a much better defender. I also never thought he’d miss a free throw in crunch time. Lebron is a better passer. He gets a lot of rebounds for his teammates steeping off. His size is the difference maker for him. I think Jordan is the GOAT from watching them both play

    1. callitlikeiseeit

      agree here as well. Bron is a better paser and strength and size is way in his favor. But MJ did not turn it over or miss free throws like Bron and MJ played D like Bron never has.

  10. Robkycats54

    He is greater because it took 7 games to beat the pacers of this yr lol & Toronto who he has constantly beat lmao stop it now…… we all knew Cleveland was gone beat Toronto, now that was an incredible game winner off the glass… but u failed to mention he gave up 2 finals mvp’s iggy & Leonard…. Jordan in his prime dwade & bosh also would of beat dallas & it took a Draymond suspension plus a miracle shot from ray allen & he would be 1-7 in the finals

  11. Han

    Wouldn’t matter what he accomplishes, many will never put him above a lot of greats, especially Jordan.

    Main thing I always note is that he hasn’t had the coaching or management around him that most of the greats had. Hell, Jordan and Kobe got all their titles with Phil as their coach.

    1. callitlikeiseeit

      And Phil got all his titles having great players on his team, works both ways. Actually want to talk coaching lets look at Boston, dude loses his 2 best players to injury and has them 1 game from Conf Finals. Is a weak Conf but still, losing 2 best players, that is coaching.

  12. ukkatzfan

    No goat for lbj. Tell the truth, you don’t have nothing to write about for uk so you went with this. It is an argument that is akin to the restaurant bracket. Lbj is mickey D’s and MJ is ??????????

    1. Look Out Fireworks

      Malone’s.

    2. ukkatzfan

      I dont know malones. But that would be a bad option. After all, MJ owned Karl and the Jazz

    3. ukkatzfan

      I had typed 5 stars

  13. Troll Slayer

    There are no right or wrong answers to this argument, however, if I were building a team, I’d pick the guy that can play all 5 positions (LeBron) first. I grew up watching Jordan, and he also deserves to be called the GOAT. NBA is a different league now than it used to be, but that doesn’t mean that LeBron wouldn’t have been successful then and vice versa. For everyone saying that Jordan had it tougher, I don’t remember all star players colluding to join the same team back then like players do now (Warriors with Durant, Rockets with CP, etc.). Mega stars stayed put back then.

    1. callitlikeiseeit

      oh you mean like Wade, Bosh and James…they kind of started it idiot.

    2. Troll Slayer

      Wtf? Pointing out that teams combine mega stars nowadays and they didn’t used to makes me an idiot? Yeah, LeBron, Wade, and Bosh did do that. I think you missed my point.

    3. Troll Slayer

      Case in point – Anthony Davis is a top 3 player in the league, yet he’s only won 1 playoff series in his career. No one wins now without at least 2 mega stars.

  14. addyjaxlarkin

    Updated after Lebrons 14th season. Michael Jordan has:

    •3 more rings
    •3 more final mvps
    •1 more DPOY
    •1 more season MVP
    •9 more scoring titles
    •3 more steals leader
    •3 more all defensive team selections
    •4000 more points / bron moved past him in playoff points, but it took him longer lol.
    •800 more steals
    •Beat 20 50+ win teams in the playoffs (Lebron only defeated 10)
    •Jordan never averaged less than 40% Field Goal in the finals
    Lebron did it twice
    •6/6 (never allowed a game 7)
    •Lebron had much more offensive help
    •Jordan never had a teammate averaged more than 22 points in the finals.. In fact, Mj is Only player in NBA history to lead a team to the championship with only one teammate averaging double figures in scoring
    * In the Bulls’ 1997 playoff run, Scottie Pippen averaged 19 points per game on 42% shooting. All other teammates of Jordan averaged under 8 points per game
    Kyrie averaged over 28 and DWade averaged more than 26
    •MJ never ever had a finals meltdown like Lebron in 2011 against the Mavs
    •MJ had more points in the playoffs in less games..
    All of this accomplished in 13 seasons
    Lebron after his 14th season, is still chasing the “ghost (GOAT) that played in Chicago”
    •Michael Jordan in the playoffs has put up atleast 40ppg, 5rpg, 5apg in 6 different playoff series. Along with an average of about 55% shooting, 3spg and 2bpg.
    (86 vs bos, 89 vs cavs, 90 vs philly, 92 vs Miami, 93 vs Phoenix, 88 vs cavs) Jordan won every one of those matchups except for the 1986 matchup vs the celtics.
    •Jordan in 88-89 averaged 32ppg, 8apg, 8rpg, 3spg off 54% shooting. LeBron has never even came close to this stat line.
    •in 87 thru 92, MJ averaged 5 straight seasons of atleast 51% FG shooting. LeBron has never done this.
    •the lowest FT% MJ ever shot in a season was 78%. Lebrons highest in a season ever is 78%.
    •MJ has a higher playoff FG% of 48.7% to Lebrons 48.3%
    •MJ has a higher playoff player efficiency rating of 28.6 to Lebrons 27.3.
    •MJ shoots a higher playoff 3 point percentage of 33.2% to Lebrons 32.9%

    •LeBron James has scored 30 points, 416 times in 1,117 games.
    Michael Jordan did it 562 times in 1,072 games.
    Jordan won 6 championships without losing a final in 1,072 games and LeBron in 1,117 games has lost 5 times and has only won 3 times (updated 2018)

    •MJ also shocked the league by being the first (and only) player to have 100 blocks and 200 steals in the same season, then turned around and did it again the next year..

    •Mj also has more career blocks (893) than Lebron James (853) despite playing in 22 LESS career games and being the smaller guy.

    Also, MJ averaged 1.6 blocks per game in the 1987-88 season which is absolutely bonkers for a 6’6″ shooting guard.
    Seriously this list can keep going. This isn’t even a debate. Mj is the GOAT.
    MIchael Jordan:

    •NBA record 5 playoffs series’ averaging atleast 40ppg
    •Only player in history to lead league in scoring and win DPOY
    •Highest scoring average, points per game, in any championship series:
    41.0 vs. Phoenix Suns, 1993 NBA Finals
    •Only rookie in NBA history to lead his team in four statistics (1984–85)
    •Only player in NBA history to lead the league in scoring, win Most Valuable Player, and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season (1987–88)
    •Only player in history to average at least 30pts 6reb 5assists And 2 steals per game AND HE DID IT 7 TIMES.
    •Only player in NBA history to win Rookie of the Year (1984–85), Defensive Player of the Year (1987–88), NBA MVP (1987–88, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1995–96, 1997–98), All-Star MVP (1988, 1996, 1998), and Finals MVP (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998)

    •Only player in NBA history to lead the league in scoring and win the NBA championship MORE THAN ONCE in the same season
    * He did this SIX TIMES!! (1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1997–98)

    •One of two players in NBA history to score 3,000 points in a season: 3,041 points scored in 82 games played (37.1 ppg) (1986–87)
    * Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player to achieve this.

    •MJ is also the only player in NBA history to score over 40 points at age 40, and he did it twice!

    •In 1988, MJ earned: Dunk Champ, All Star Game MVP, NBA Scoring Title, League MVP and Defensive Player of the Year?

    Michael in only ELEVEN complete seasons with the Bulls:

    -10 scoring titles,
    -Won Defensive Player of the Year,
    -9 times all defensive team,
    -9time All NBA,
    -5 league MVPs
    -6 finals MVPs

    All 11 seasons. Mj has done in 11 seasons things Lebron hasn’t done and won’t do in his whole career…

    And before you criticize me for copy and pasting just know that it doesn’t matter if it’s copied or not, truth is truth.

    Check Mate.

    1. ukkatzfan

      Mj> lbj and Addy> Brent.

    2. k3ntucky_jer

      Plus M.J wasn’t soft like James. It was called JORDAN RULES for a reason. Jordan dunked on people and told them he was going to. He looked for the contact also. James is way to soft for any era of nba basketball except this one now. The league is soft as it’s ever been. Way to much flopping. M.J has that toughness James will never have.compare all you want but real ballers know who’s the Goat on and off the court #BBN #23AIR #Goat

  15. DelrayCat

    LeBron is definitely the best in this generation, but Jordan will forever be the GOAT.
    However, at only 33, LeBron still has a chance to pass Jordan in rings and total points if he continues to play at a high level. There’s no doubt he will choose to go to a contender next year (Houston, Philly, etc.) and have a shot at winning more titles. With him spending nearly a million a year just on keeping his body healthy…he could logically play another 7-8 seasons. I also think he will be a billionaire who owns a big part of an NBA franchise one day. Either way, he will always be hated by huge segments of the population just for who he is.

  16. DelrayCat

    I think Jordan can also be scrutinized for bailing on the Bulls and switching to baseball. If he had stayed, this would likely not even be an argument.

    1. addyjaxlarkin

      Haha LeBron has already bailed on two teams trying to chase championships looking to create superteams and he’s about to bail on a 3rd team which just so happens to be his hometown team who he bailed on once already Lebronda is chasing a ghost bc he will never be the GOAT

    2. Park

      Not the point you were trying to make but this also favors Jordan. Missed almost two entire seasons in his prime, playing baseball after his father was murdered. Then retired a second time, still in his prime, only to come back to Washington a shell of himself. Had he played every year, until his abilities started to diminish, the stats would be insane. It he just didn’t retire the first time, he would have won 8 championships in a row. Not even a maybe, he was literally unstoppable. I have never seen a player in any team sport be able to inflict his will on the game like Jordan could. He would literally tell defenders what he was going to do, and then do it. They knew what he was doing and were unable to prevent it.

  17. (Aixelsyd)0505

    Nope.

  18. (Aixelsyd)0505

    Tell me how there a favorite over the warriors?

    1. ukkatzfan

      Exactly. No way does lbj have cavs a favorite over GSW. Brent needs to recant this article and admit when it comes to writing about NBA…..he is in G-League.

  19. (Aixelsyd)0505

    LBJ will NEVER ever be the GOAT

  20. kingave66

    This argument is so played out….. I’ll ask the most obvious question though. WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH KENTUCKY BASKETBALL???? Jordan went to North Carolina and LeBron actively recruits against UK for Duke.

  21. Lexingtonyn

    Lebron is the greatest athletic specimen the NBA has ever known. His greatness is in his physical domination not his basketball skill per se. He’s a far worse shooter than Michael or Kobe for that matter. I heard Jamal Mashburn say one time that he realized Jordan was the greatest not by watching Bulls’ MJ but Wizards’ MJ. When MJ was with the Wizards, he was the slowest guy on the court, could no longer jump, or physically impose his will. Yet he still scored 20+ a game. When Lebron loses his physical edge, he’s done.

    1. Soylentbeans

      Naw LeBron will just post up. Don’t forget he is still like 6’8″ 260.

  22. Mc12

    I also need to add that MJ dunked from half court in a game and as a result is the only reason this article, although I disagree with it, was able to be written. The guy saved our planet and is a hero.

  23. uhhian

    I agree, LeBron is the greatest basketball player to ever live. The only people who think Jordan is better than LeBron are 40 year old dads who always talk about 90’s basketball being “the best,” people who buy and wear too much Jordan brand clothing, and Bulls fans. LeBron is the GOAT, no question.

    1. 4everUKblue

      Dude put the crack pipe down and come back to reality.

    2. k3ntucky_jer

      Kido kido . You must read and learn before you type what you think is right. Get a GED then research M.J then come back and comment.

    3. (Aixelsyd)0505

      Well I’m 30 so try again

  24. henderblue

    Most of the current NBA players, with LeBron leading the way, are a bunch of whiners who protest and cry over nearly every foul called on them. Granted, LeBron has hit some big time game winners, the one last night was spectacular. Michael Jordan invented the standard move of most players today, which is palming the ball. The hand is supposed to stay on top of the ball, which it clearly does not. Jordan perfected the art. But it’s an illegal art, which they rarely call. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the greatest of all time. It’s not close.

    1. ukkatzfan

      No way jabbar. Jabbar was my favorite. I traded from bucks to lakers with him. But he was height with one shot.

    2. henderblue

      One unstoppable shot. You know it

  25. Soylentbeans

    Rodman came from a championship piston team. The bulls drafted better and had better roll players. They had one of the greatest coaches ever. LeBron has never lost in the first round Jordan did for like the first 7-8 years of his career. The case can surely be made for LeBron, but I’m going with MJ.

  26. Cryingtheblues

    If I were an owner of a NBA franchise and I had the number 1 pick I’d go with Jordan.

  27. KY Blue Blood

    I’m sorry, but too many plays were Lebron acts like he’s injured trying to get a foul call. It’s disgusting to watch. I don’t care about your argument. Think what you want, but as for me, I cannot watch Lebron and I couldn’t resist watching MJ.

  28. JoeMoney333

    Nothing gets 50 year old dudes to the comment section like an MJ vs Lebron post!

  29. rlburd2

    15th season argument? Lol
    Did you forget Jordan left for awhile and also played college ball? Come on teenie bopper.

  30. JaxWildcat

    Can we just appreciate them both? I’m tired of the debate. It is a different league and style of play now compared to then. Not saying it’s better or worse now but simply different. Also when Jordan was playing there were those that argued whether or not he was the best too. Let’s just appreciate that they are both among the best ever.

  31. luke_emberton

    The 93 Suns would destroy 90% of the teams in the league today this article a complete joke
    Jordan is head and shoulders above everyone else “he had more around him”
    Scottie Pippen was his 2nd best player
    Lebron had a prime Wade and prime Bosh and because he choked against JJ Barea and Deshaun Stevenson they lost in 2011
    Ray Allen and Kyrie Irving have bailed Lebron out twice in the Finals

  32. wesmorgan1

    For starters, it’s a completely different game today – James didn’t even reach the NBA until after Jordan retired. But, if we’re going to insist on making the comparison:

    1) James has had WAY more help along the way.

    2) The Eastern Conference has been MUCH weaker during James’ tenure than it was during Jordan’s. (Side note – I REALLY wish the NBA would go to a straight 1-16 playoff seeding…)

    3) There’s MUCH less physical play in today’s NBA.

    4) Jordan led the league in scoring 10 times, and led the league in steals 3 times. James has one scoring title. (See point #1)

    5) Changes in the CBA, free agency and the emergence of short-term “build a superteam” ownership efforts gave James opportunities that Jordan didn’t really have.

    I don’t put much stock in beauty-contest stuff like MVPs, All-Whatevers and other media- or fan-selected stuff. (Come on – the NBA Finals MVP is chosen by a panel of 11 broadcasters…)