The GOAT Argument: Lebron or Jordan?
There are many famous debates when it comes to the incredible sport of basketball. Should high school players be allowed to go into the NBA without going to college? Should the NBA allow super teams to form? Do Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell's stats matter when considering his competition? However, none are bigger than the debate of Lebron vs Jordan. Who is the greatest hooper of all time? In this Let's Talk Sports article, I will dive deeper into the debate and give my opinion on the situation. Also, I don't consider Kobe to be in this debate, although there are those who do. If you want to see a list of how I rank the best hoopers of all time, leave me a comment and I'll make one!
When it comes to the game of basketball, nobody has left a bigger legacy on the game than Michael Jeffrey Jordan. Jordan was more than just a hooper. He was a legend, a brand, a basketball god, and a role model for aspiring ballers all around the world. He took a franchise out of the gutter and rose them to glory, not once changing teams or showing the slightest signs of disloyalty. Not to mention that his dominance stopped seven, yes seven, Hall of Famers from winning a championship, and that doesn't even include great players such as Penny Hardaway, Shawn Kemp, Kevin Johnson, and Tim Hardaway; And no offense to Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, but if Jordan didn't retire to play baseball, they probably would not have won a championship either. This is largely because Jordan was a perfect 6-0 in the finals, which is something Lebron, who is 3-6, can't claim.
In an era of brutal defense with a foul call rarely being called, Jordan thrived and overcame the Bad Boy Pistons, who did everything in their power, foul or not, to stop Jordan from getting to the hoop. One thing that people also don't realize about Jordan was that he could do everything imaginable on the court. He could score the ball, he could dish the rock, he could lock up the best of scorers and oh boy could he dunk. An electrifying athlete, Jordan could dunk from the free throw line with little effort, as shown in the middle image above, and could jump over any defender in his path. Even now that it's been almost 20 years since he retired, there are few who can dunk the ball at the level he did , and none who could do everything else as well as he could.
Jordan carried his legend status off the court as well, and was the king of pop culture in the 1990's. MJ appeared in songs, books, television shows, and movies, most notably the 1996 flick Space Jam, which earned more than $230 million worldwide. Even in 2020, he is still relevant, with his newest documentary, The Last Dance, becoming a huge hit. Meanwhile, I still have barely mentioned his shoe brand, which has boasted superstar clients such as Russell Westbrook, Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Carmelo Anthony. Not only was Jordan the leader of his generation of hoopers, but he also provides the next generation with a path to success.
Although there's lots more I could say to support Jordan's argument for GOAT, I'll conclude with the fact that his career was shorter than Lebron's. If Jordan's career spanned the same length as Lebron's will, Lebron would not have a chance in this debate.
Championships: Jordan- 6, Lebron- 3
Finals Appearances: Jordan- 6, Lebron- 9
MVPs: Jordan- 5, Lebron- 4
Finals MVPs: Jordan- 6, Lebron- 3
Olympic Gold Medals: Jordan- 2, Lebron- 2
All-Star Appearances: Jordan- 14, Lebron- 16
All-Star MVPs: Jordan- 3, Lebron- 3
All-NBA First Team: Jordan- 10, Lebron- 12
All-Defensive First Team: Jordan- 9, Lebron- 5
Scoring Titles: Jordan- 10, Lebron- 1
AP Athlete of the Year: Jordan- 3, Lebron- 3
Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year: Jordan- 1, Lebron- 2
Career PPG (as of July 13th, 2020): Jordan- 30.1, Lebron- 27.2
Career APG (as of July 13th, 2020): Jordan- 5.3, Lebron- 7.2
Career RPG (as of July 13th, 2020): Jordan- 6.2, Lebron- 7.4
Lebron was the chosen one from the start. Ever since he laced up for St. Vincent St. Mary's High School he was. Ever since he was just a little kid growing up in Akron, OH he was. There has never been a player like Lebron, and there never will be one like him in the future (sorry Bronny and Bryce). Lebron is the best player to ever play the game of basketball, hands down. Nobody would beat him in a one on one game. Jordan and Kobe can't guard him inside, Kareem and Wilt aren't fast enough match his elusiveness, and Magic can't score on him.
Only Lebron could take a team of scrubs to the NBA Finals like Lebron did. Seriously, name five players on the 2006-07 Cavaliers. I guarantee you can't without looking it up. Lebron averaged practically twice the amount of PPG than anyone else on his team that year; And so although Lebron is 3-6 in the Finals, he did not have a Pippen, Rodman, Kerr, or Grant for most of his Finals runs, as he was either under-supported or plagued by team injuries during his title runs. The legend of Lebron is something that will always be part of the fabric of basketball history. Who else could forget the chalk tosses, the nasty dunks, the clutch game winners, and "Cleveland! This is for you!" These legendary moments are just some of the things that will help Lebron be remembered as the GOAT.
There's not much more that I can say about Lebron other then that he is just the best player ever. If you take away legacy and everything else that happened off the court, Lebron is the undisputed GOAT of the sport, and a top three athlete ever.
Conclusion: Magic Johnson said it best in an interview when he said, "LeBron James to me, when you think about all-around basketball players, he's the best of all time. An all-around basketball player. But when you want to say 'who's the greatest ever' it's still Michael Jordan." If the two matched up in their primes to play one on one, I have no doubt Lebron would win, as he is taller and much more of a dominant force than Jordan. However, Michael Jordan has had such an impact on the game, and has done things only few will ever do in the NBA, while also being a greater all-around player than Lebron. Although there is still time for Lebron to pass Jordan for the namesake of GOAT, at the moment the title goes to none other than Michael Jeffrey Jordan.