They are the two most iconic basketball superstars ever to walk on a court but when it comes to who is the greatest, its always up for debate. LeBron James or Michael Jordan. A lot of the older sports fans who saw Jordan actually play will name him as the greatest of all time. I thought this way as well but after watching an interview of Scottie Pippin on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike Show in May of 2011, I re-assessed my thoughts. I am paraphrasing Pippen but he spoke that Jordan may be the greatest scorer of all time, however, LeBron might be the best all around player. I was surprised, but after LeBron won his first title, I started to see the LeBron side of the argument.
Like most American sports fans I was privileged to watch game 6 of the NBA finals this year and I was blown away by the performance of LeBron James. I have watched him before and he is indescribably good to start but at the same time I have never seen him just get the killer look in his eye and take over a game. It was absolutely amazing. The argument against LeBron was that he was not a clutch player and that he would rather just pass it. In game 6, I saw him hit a 3-pointer, then get the ball right back and knock another one down with under 30 seconds to go. As game 7 was winding down and San Antonio still in the game, the Heat needed a bucket to close the deal. What happens next blew me away as LeBron gets the ball, steps up and drains a 19 or 20 footer in a defenders face to seal it. If that’s not clutch I don’t know what is!
By no means am I disrespecting the greatness of Michael Jordan; he is unlike anything that will be seen in the game of basketball. He was an unstoppable scorer and a lockdown perimeter defender. He was one of the few players who led the league in steals and in scoring. Just watching his highlights I am absolutely amazed by the show his “airness” puts on.
But here is where I see the fact that the 2 cannot be separated. Pippin has a point as much as it sounds ludicrous. King James is a more complete player; if you watch him he is an incredible distributor of the ball. Jordan never really reached an elite level at that skill. Jordan is more of ball stopper but unlike Melo or Joe Johnson, MJ was able to find players who are able to be great even without the ball such as Pippin who was a lock down defender or Dennis Rodman, an elite rebounder.
LeBron as a facilitator has the luxury of playing with guys who can score like Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Ray Allen. So unlike Jordan, LeBron does not have to do all the scoring he can focus on playing lock down defense rebounding and getting his teammates involved in the game. Another example that shows their drive for greatness is that they both developed their games as their careers went on; Jordan developed a better jump shot and LeBron developed a post game and became a better perimeter shooter.
When it comes down to it they are almost to close to call a winner. In part because they are to different types of player who played two different positions. Right now Jordan has the slimmest of leads but the gap is closing. If LeBron stays on the track he is on and if he wins two or three more titles, then he could very well be the greatest of all time. But as of right now Jordan is number 1 and LeBron is 1A.
Author: Jared Klim
Photo Credits: Wikipedia