Jordan vs LeBron

So by now we’ve all heard the infamous Scottie Pippen quote from Mike & Mike.  “Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to ever play the game. I may go so far as saying LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game.”  This has naturally stirred up endless discussion.  People have been comparing these two players ever since LeBron played his first NBA game (and maybe even before that).  But nobody would have thought in a million years that somebody that got to experience Jordan first-hand throughout his entire career and six NBA championships would even put these two guy on the same tier, given that King James is in just his eighth season.

So why would Scottie say this?  Well let’s just take a look completely objectively.

Here are LeBron’s stats through his first seven years.

Year Team PPG RPG APG SPG FG%
03-04 CLE 20.9 5.5 5.9 1.6 41.7
04-05 CLE 27.2 7.4 7.2 2.2 47.2
05-06 CLE 31.4 7.0 6.6 1.6 48.0
06-07 CLE 27.3 6.7 6.0 1.6 47.6
07-08 CLE 30.0 7.9 7.2 1.8 48.4
08-09 CLE 28.4 7.6 7.2 1.7 48.9
09-10 CLE 29.7 7.3 8.6 1.6 50.3
10-11 MIA 26.7 7.5 7.0 1.6 51.0
Career 27.7 7.1 7.0 1.7 47.9

And Jordan through his first eight years:

Year Team PPG RPG APG SPG FG%
84-85 CHI 28.2 6.5 5.9 2.4 51.5
85-86 CHI 22.7 3.6 2.9 2.1 45.7
86-87 CHI 37.1 5.2 4.6 2.9 48.2
87-88 CHI 35.0 5.5 5.9 3.2 53.5
88-90 CHI 32.5 8.0 8.0 2.9 52.6
89-90 CHI 33.6 6.9 6.9 2.8 53.9
90-91 CHI 31.5 6.0 6.0 2.7 51.9
91-92 CHI 30.1 6.4 6.4 2.3 49.5
Career 31.3 6.0 5.8 2.7 50.9

Good call Scottie.  Jordan both scored more points and shot at a higher percent than LeBron at this point in their respective careers.  Jordan had a good sized advantage in steals, while LeBron was more generous with the rock and grabbed more boards.  From a statistical standpoint I’d have to give the slight advantage to Jordan at this point.

As for championships, Jordan was in the middle of his first three-peat, having just won his second Finals MVP and his third regular season MVP.  LeBron is more than likely on the way his first ship.  The finals MVP is questionable though.  Here’s where I see a clear problem for LeBron’s legacy.  How could he possibly be compared with the best player of all time if he might not even be considered the best player on his team during the NBA finals?  Could you see Jordan deferring to Pippen in the finals even if he had a “hot hand”?  Bottom line, no.  Jordan stepped it up to a completely different level each of the six times he made it to the finals.  If you need a reminder check this out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLQl7UJOYUs . (Sorry haven’t figured out the links yet).  It’s the flu game from the 1997 NBA finals.  I don’t know but I just can’t see LeBron doing that at any point in his career.  He has certainly shown flashes of greatness, especially in these playoffs, but doesn’t have the ability to take over a game like we got used to seeing Jordan do.

Even if LeBron wins this year’s NBA finals and five more I just can’t see him being a better overall player than Jordan.  Bottom line people are rated on winning.  Therefore the best player of all time must be the best player at winning.  Look at old youtube videos of Jordan in the finals.  I’m not saying it will be impossible for LeBron to ever be there, but he has to make the leap now.  If he loses this series or Wade wins the MVP I think he’s officially out of the best player ever debate regardless of what he does for the rest of his career.

We won’t ever see another Jordan.  Frankly we don’t want to.  He defined the game of basketball.  He’s exactly how you would want to describe the best player ever.  That being said, let’s just enjoy watching a guy that should end up as one of the top five greatest players of all time.

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One thought on “Jordan vs LeBron

  1. Dont forget that Lebron entered the league 3 years younger than Jordan did. If you look at the stats by age, its even better for Lebron. Not to mention if the Heat win this series Lebron would have won his first championship at a younger age than Jordan did.

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