Yes, i know the Cavaliers lost another finals and LeBron does not have six rings. I get it, but for the people who think MJ can turn water to wine and walk on water listen up. Call me a Nick Wright/Colin Cowherd wannabe but lets look at the numbers of the great debate:
LeBron James has shown us no signs of slowing down after 14 seasons. After game 5 last night, LeBron became the first player in league history to average a triple-double in the NBA Finals. And no, he didn’t shoot 20% from the field like Westbrook does on triple-doubles, he shot 57% FG against the best team of all time! (IMO). LeBron also passed Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in the NBA Finals ever in the same series. In their career numbers, LeBron wins AST, REB, FG%, 3PT%, and he’ll completely wallop Jordan in total games played. As a player, LeBron is the better rebounder, passer, shooter, and clearly the more durable/stronger athlete. LeBron is going into his 15th season now and has not declined at all, he has only elevated his game. At this time in his career, Jordan averaged 22.9 PPG and shot 42% from the field and 18.9% from 3 point land.
One of the skills people would say Jordan is much better than LeBron at is scoring. That is fine, i would have to agree as a talent yes Jordan is a better scorer. But for perspective, Jordan took over 3.3 more shots per game than LBJ, and LBJ averaged 1.7 more AST per game than Jordan. If LeBron made up the difference in shots taken with MJ, there is no question LeBron would already have more PPG. Jordan is also the better defender, but LeBron is not far off, and LeBron could guard more positions.
Another argument people use to degrade LeBron is his finals record and playoff mishaps. “he is afraid of the moment” “he is 3-5!” something LeBron haters will forget is in his career in the hardest games he elevates. In 19 games facing elimination, LeBron averages 32.5 PPG, 10.8 REB, 7.3 AST, 1.6 STL, 1.0 BLK and shoots 51.1% eFG per game. Since 2012, in elimination games, he has only had one game total scoring under 30 points, that was game 7 last year, and we all know what he did…
Also, in the finals, there have been only four players since 1984 that have recorded 30 point triple doubles. Charles Barkley has 1, James Worthy has 1, Stephen Curry has 1, and LeBon James had had FOUR, MJ has 0. LeBron has also proven to be more valuable to a franchise, in his career LeBron averaged 38.9 MP, MJ had 38.3 MP in their careers. Jordan only hit 40 total MP in two seasons, LeBron has had four such seasons.
By this time in MJ’s career, he averaged only slightly above 34 MP, LBJ had 37.8. When Jordan left the Bulls for baseball, Chicago went on to win 55 games and fall only one game short of the NBA finals. When LBJ left the Cavs, they went 19-63, and when LBJ left Miami, they went 37-45 even though they still had D-Wade and Chris Bosh left.
LeBron’s Value Over Replacement was 108.6 while Jordan’s was 104.4, 4.2 higher for LBJ. People also forget LeBron brought the island of misfit toys to the 2007 NBA Finals, his second leading scorer in that playoffs was Daniel Gibson at 9 PPG… and LeBron had to score 25 straight points to beat the Pistons in that game 5 legendary performance. He never got legends around him, Magic, Bird, Jordan, Kareem, Shaq, Kobe all got superstar teammates, LBJ got Antwan Jamison and Zyndrunas Ilgauskas. People also forget LBJ’s affect on the NBA, since he has broke into the NBA, 70 Eastern Conference coaches have been fired and i imagine more will be fired this off-season. Teams are desperate to beat him, they start overspending and panicking and make horrible free agent deals like the Knicks, Nets trade from Boston, Chicago dumping a ton of money on washed veterans. It took 4 all stars, and 2 MVP’s just to take him out and STILL averaged a triple double in the series. He has been to 7 straight NBA Finals, and it would be a miracle if he somehow did not get to 10 straight in the next 3 seasons.
One thing that will be forever remembered about Jordan’s legacy is his revolutionary shoe game that turned into the Jordan Brand empire. A lot of people will say LeBron does not have that type of legacy accomplishment, but i think he does. Flashback to 2003 when LeBron was at St. V’s, his high school career became the first time a national broadcast covered high school hoops. He was widely regarded as the best high school player ever, and that is 100% true, it is not even close. Ever since then, covering high school hoops on a national scale is mainstream. Why is that? we are all trying to find the next LeBron, that is why a lot of these hoop mixtape titles start with “Next LeBron?” and they get millions of hits. He has set the standard now for the best, be versatile, athletic, humble.
I get it, LeBron has not accomplished everything MJ has yet. But, MJ did not accomplish everything Kareem did, or get as many rings as Bill Russell. But, we know MJ is better at hooping then both of those guys, and LeBron is better at hooping then all three of those guys mentioned above. When i make this argument, keep in mind LeBron has 4-5 good seasons left barring serious injury. When it is all said and done, it won’t even be a question about who is the GOAT. Also, these arguments aren’t taking shots at MJ, MJ is still the same player, it is just a testament to how good LBJ is and people still disrespect him because of his move to South Beach.
Bron will be back, even stronger.