For many people, there never will be a basketball player greater than Michael Jordan.
But as his dominant playoff performances continue to mount, LeBron James is, at the very least, beginning to force people to consider the once unthinkable.
James now has two buzzer-beating game-winners this NBA postseason: one in the first round against the Indiana Pacers, and other Saturday night to put the Cleveland Cavaliers up 3-0 in their second-round series with the Toronto Raptors. Furthermore, through 10 games in the playoffs, the 33-year-old is averaging a staggering 34.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.8 assists in 41.7 minutes per game.
So, with yet another trip to the Eastern Conference finals — and perhaps the NBA Finals — seemingly on the horizon for James and the Cavs, people in the media are reigniting the NBA’s great debate. And while most aren’t ready to commit to the idea of James being better than Jordan, some are starting to lean in favor of “The King.”
Here’s what Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless had to say about James vs. Jordan during Monday’s “Undisputed” episode:
Now, let’s hear “First Things First” co-hosts Nick Wright and Cris Carter debate the topic:
Finally, watch “Get Up” host Mike Greenberg try to convince Jalen Rose (an actual basketball player) that James and Jordan are, at the very least, comparable:
So, are you Team James or Team Jordan? Or is there another all-time great, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who deserves to be in the conversation?
At the end of the day, many will point to Jordan’s spotless 6-0 record in the NBA Finals vs. James’ less impressive 3-5 record as all the evidence they need to go with “His Airness” as the basketball G.O.A.T. But should we give James extra points for having more finals appearances, or is that point irrelevant because Jordan sat out four seasons during his career? Moreover, one easily could make the case that James has faced much stiffer competition from the Western Conference than Jordan ever did.
Then, of course, there are regular-season numbers: Jordan averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists over 15 seasons with the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards, whereas James has put up 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists thus far in his career.
However, there’s also the eye test to consider: Jordan dazzled with his overall skill, while James his sheer dominance and physical stature to strike fear in the hearts of opponents and fans.
If you remove emotion and nostalgia from the equation (easier said than done), it’s hard to not look at James as being a more dominant player than Jordan. Furthermore, if the Cavs somehow manage to win the NBA Championship this season, the debate might be close to over.
Still, if you want to stand there and defend Jordan, you have more than enough ammunition to do so.
Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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