Where to begin? This whole week ESPN has been crazy over the GOAT celebrating his 50th birthday coming up on Feb. 17th. When I say the GOAT I mean no other than the highness himself Michael Jordan, the mystical, wondrous two guard of the Chicago Bulls from 1984-1998. The man who’s on every ones feet it seems like now a days, damn hypebeasts. The guy who’s inspired others to play and love the sport of basketball. Legend may be an understatement when speaking about this maniac. If it seems like I’m overly praising the player, ask any NBA enthusiasts and they would agree, he is the best ever…at least for now…
Waking up this morning and doing my early ritual of watching nothing but ESPN I noticed, every program was comparing the GOAT to The King. No idea of why this started, maybe it was because of First Take’s segment of “1-on-1” Jordan vs. LeBron where the notorious Skip Bayless said Jordan would win hands down 11-2 or maybe it was because of LeBron Raymone James posting up his sixth straight game scoring 30+ points while shooting over 60%!! (MJ, consider this your present) By playground standards that’s KD at Rucker Park. By NBA standards that’s not human out of this world insane-ness (if that’s a word). ESPECIALLY for a player that’s a forward as opposed to a center. Taking mid-range or outside shots, driving to the hoop at will, no human was stopping this superbeing. James became first player in NBA history to post a stretch of six games with those stats and to that I congratulate the King. But it brought up a very interesting topic, who is better? the GOAT or the King?
Now I’m pretty sure we can have a slew of people sitting here arguing for days so here’s my take on the matter. Resume based, you take Jordan. Take a look at what he’s done:
- Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2009
- 2 Olympic gold medals – 1984, 1992
- 6× NBA Champion
- 6× NBA Finals MVP
- 5× NBA MVP
- 10 NBA Scoring Titles
- 3× steals leader
- 14 NBA All-Star Selections
- 3× NBA All-Star Game MVP
- 11 All-NBA Selections
- 9 All-Defensive First Team Selections
- 2× NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion – 1987, 1988
- NBA Rookie of the Year – 1984–85
- NBA Defensive Player of the Year – 1987–88
Unprecedented career, but of course LeBron’s has yet to end. Let’s look at his resume:
- NBA Champion: 2012
- NBA Finals MVP: 2012
- 3× NBA Most Valuable Player
- NBA Rookie of the Year
- NBA Scoring Champion: 2008
- 9× NBA All-Star
- 8× All-NBA First Team
- 2× All-NBA Second Team
- 4× NBA All-Defensive First Team
- 5× Olympic Medalist
People argue that LeBron needs to get 7, 8, 9 rings to ever even be considered better than MJ, but if we’re judging players by resume alone then you can make a serious case for Bill Russell but we won’t get into that. Even then people will bring up the fact that Jordan went 6 for 6 in the finals winning every time while LeBron is only 1 for 3 but it’s more than that. For now let’s take at both of their careers statistically through 738 games:
With stats eerily similar it’s hard to make a case for either player statistically. The GOAT over the king in scoring and defensive categories while the King takes the teamwork approach with assists and rebounds. But don’t forget what LeBron does defensively for you..don’t let the stats fool you. He can guard positions 1 through 5. He’s notorious for his chase down blocks and the way he can lockdown and steal to initiate a deadly Miami fast break which result in dunk after dunk after dunk is nothing to sneeze at. Consider the level of competition. Jordan rose to success at the end of a Bird and Magic era. Arguably with not as much star power as there is today (yes I’m kinda saying I would take this Olympic team over the Dream Team..come on, Larry Bird and Magic were old and the speed would’ve killed the Dream Team), stars like KD (possibly best scorer EVER), Kobe Black Mamba Bryant (another compared frequently to Jordan) and company. Yes they played physical, blah blah but imagine if LeBron at 6’8” and 250 pounds was told he could play more physical, my friends it would be scary.
Players today jump, run, and simply play faster. Yes they play softer, but they’re also quicker and way more athletic. Quicker at closing out to shots and quicker on transition defense. They jump higher to block shots and leap frog to heaven for dunks and ribbies (rebounds). Sorry, but I have a very hard time believing Jordan could drop 100 with the way teams are playing defense these days. But I can see the opposite, LeBron dominating in the older era. Driving at will, dunking on the masses, shooting over the top of everyone…But these are just theories and what ifs. Statistically speaking I’ll let you decide who you would want on your team. As of right now the GOAT is the GOAT and the King is on another planet. Both great Hall of Fame players. One trying to catch the other..but honestly I don’t believe there ever will be another Michael Jordan. But you can also make the case for there never being a LeBron James. Maybe we need to stop comparing the two and just see LeBron in his own greatness. Like Phil Jackson and Charles Barkley both said, “LeBron James has the weapons and potential to be better than Mike one day”…Maybe one day we will see the King become better than the GOAT…maybe.
P.S. don’t bring in the BS that LeBron needed a team to win..everyone needs a good team.