Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James

 

Michael. Jordan. Is. Was. And. Will. Be. The. Greatest. Period.

How quickly people forget how amazing Michael Jeffrey "Air" Jordan was. Some of Jordan's friends, teammates, and coaches have forgotten how amazing he really was--lets remind them.

Earlier this week Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim, basically, suggested LeBron James was the best player he'd ever seen:

"This guy can guard five [positions] ... put him on anybody, he can guard him. I always felt Michael Jordan was the best player I've ever seen ... I didn't think it was close ... and I'm not so sure anymore ... I'm not so sure anymore."

Along with these comments Boeheim said that James is a hybrid of Magic Johnson and Jordan while marveling at James physical presence: 6'9/260 lbs.

[Somehow LBJ size is always up for debate. Most profiles and programs list James as 6'8 260 lbs & if Dwight Howard is superman James is the hulk.]

Jim Boeheim is a great coach in his own right, but he just made the same mistake a few others before him have made (i.e. Scottie Pippen) & that's falling in love with the player of the moment. Prior to this season LeBron James was getting "destroyed" (and this is being nice) in the media for his past performances in the playoffs and finals, but after just winning one championship some people are ready to crown him the greatest? Here are a couple outright differences between Michael Jordan and LeBron James:

1.     Jordan was a shooting guard. James is a small forward.

They are two very different players who played two different positions. Jordan and James are two extraordinary all-around basketball players; however Jordan was a much better and efficient scorer, but James is slightly better as a rebounder and point guard.

2.     Jordan was 6'6, 205 lbs. James is 6'8, 260 lbs.

LeBron James is obviously a superior physical specimen. Michael Jordan was on the NBA All-Defensive first team ten times and won the NBA Defensive Player of the year award back in the 1987-1988 season. James has been voted to the NBA All-Defensive first team the past four seasons. In addition, James can guard all five positions; however, he wouldn't be able to dominantly guard the top centers in the league as he could with any other position.

3.     Michael Jordan went to the University of North Carolina. LeBron James came straight out of high school.

Anyone who gives James an automatic advantage over Jordan for the last achievement should think twice about doing so. There's a reason basketball players didn't make the jump from high school to the pros back in the day so, context and history have to be taken into consideration.

Moses Malone (Center/Power Forward, 6'10, 260 lbs) was one of three players drafted from high school into the pros (NBA & ABA) back in the 1970's & that's because he could take the physical punishment from the veterans who were about to teach him a lesson for thinking he could play with the "big boys." The other two players drafted straight from high school in the 1970's were Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins and Will Willoughby, both played PF/C. It is worth noting that after these three individuals there wasn't a player take straight out of high school in the draft for 20 years.

Michael Jordan played in the 1980's where they let you play hard-nose basketball. Where the whistle wasn't blown every trip up the court or at every body hitting the hardwood, where guys were allowed to question the refs, and talk trash to each other. Stars like Jordan used to get "jumped" in the post for driving to the paint!

Nevertheless, one definite advantage James has over Jordan is the hype & pressure to which he entered the league. Jordan didn't enter the 1984 draft as the best player available, but James did back in 2003. It is fair to say that James has lived up to the immense hype and pressure.

Charles Oakley, former NBA enforcers, was asked to compare Michael to LeBron, "It's like frosted flakes and corn flakes. They both flakes. One just has sugar on 'em."

So, let's compare and contrast these superstars through ages 21-27. Remember, at age 21 M.J. was in his fist season and LeBron was already into his third NBA season. Just to make this a little bit more fun

Age 21: Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James

 

Season 

GP

GS

MPG

PPG

TRB 

AST 

STL

 BLK

 TOV 

FG%

 3P%

 FT%

 TRB

 AST

 STL

 PTS

M.J.

1984-85 

82 

82 

38.3 

28.2 

6.5

5.9

2.4

.8

3.5

.515

.173

.845

534

481

196

2313

LBJ

2005-06

79

79

42.5

31.4

7

6.6

1.6

.8

3.3

.48

.335

.738

556

521

123

2478

*BOLD=Category Leader (Basketball-Reference.com)

These are unbelievable numbers for any basketball player. Initially, you can see that their numbers are very, very similar.

Jordan: All-Star, Rookie of the Year, All-Rookie First team, and All-NBA Second Team.

James: All-NBA First team and All-Star game MVP.

Better season: LeBron James numbers are slightly better.

Age 22: Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James

 

Season

 GP

 GS

 MPG 

PPG

 TRB 

AST 

STL 

BLK 

TOV 

FG% 

3P% 

FT% 

TRB 

AST 

STL 

PTS

M.J.

1985-86

18

 7

25.1

22.7

3.6

2.9

2.1

1.2

2.5

.457

.167

.84

64

53

37

408

LBJ

2006-07 

78

78

40.9

27.3

6.7

6

1.6

.7

3.2

.476

.319

.698

526

470

125

2132

Get ready for a history lesson....

In the third game of the 1985-86 season Jordan suffered a broken left foot causing him to miss 64 games before coming back for the final 15 leading the Bulls in scoring the final 8 and a playoff appearance. The Bulls were swept in the first-round by the eventual champions the Boston Celtics.

Oh, and this was the season that M.J. dropped 63 points in a double-overtime game 2 thriller in Boston. Jordan's 63 points is still the record for a playoff game.

James: All-Star and All-NBA Second Team.

Better season: LeBron James had the better season and numbers, but Jordan dropping 63 pts on the eventual champs after missing almost the entire seasons is something people are still trying to define.

Age 23: Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James

 

Season

GP 

GS 

MPG 

PPG 

TRB 

AST 

STL 

BLK 

TOV 

FG% 

3P% 

FT% 

TRB 

AST 

STL 

PTS

M.J.

1986-87 

82

82

40

37.1

5.2

4.6

2.9

1.5

3.3

.482

.182

.857

430

377

236

3041

LBJ

2007-08

75

74

40.4

30

7.9

7.2

1.8

1.1

3.4

.484

.315

.712

592

539

138

2250

Jordan in the 1986-87 season ended up winning: First Scoring Champion, All-Star, Dunk Contest Champion, and All-NBA First Team.

James won his very first scoring title, 2nd All-Star Game MVP, and All-NBA First team.

Winner: Michael Jordan. Although, LeBron had better numbers in the assists and rebound columns Jordan dominated the box score, especially in points, the way no one thought a guard could ever dominate.

Age 24: Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James

 

Season

 GP

 GS 

MPG 

PPG 

TRB 

AST 

STL 

BLK 

TOV 

FG% 

3P% 

FT% 

TRB 

AST 

STL 

PTS

M.J.

1987-88

 82

82

40.4

35

5.5

5.9

3.2

1.6

3.1

.535

.132

.841

449

485

259

2868

LBJ

2008-09

 81

81

37.7

28.4

7.6

7.2

1.7

1.1

3

.489

.344

.78

613

587

137

2304

Jordan: MVP, All-Star, Scoring Champion, Dunk Contest Champion, Steals Champion, All-Defensive First Team, All-NBA First Team, All-Star Game MVP, & Defensive Player of the Year.

James: MVP, All-Star, All-NBA First Team, & All-Defensive First-Team.

Winner: Michael Jordan. These were both Jordan's and James first MVP seasons. Michael takes the edge over LeBron only because he received more hardware.

Age 25: Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James

 

Season

 GP 

GS 

MPG 

PPG 

TRB 

AST 

STL 

BLK 

TOV 

FG% 

3P% 

FT% 

TRB 

AST 

STL 

PTS

M.J.

1988-89  

81

81

40.2

32.5

8

8

2.9

.8

3.6

.538

.276

.85

652

650

234

2633

LBJ

2009-10

76

76

39

29.7

7.3

8.6

1.6

1

3.4

.503

.333

.767

554

651

125

2258

 Jordan: All-Star, Scoring Champion, All-NBA First Team, All-Defensive First Team

James: MVP, All-Star, All-NBA First Team, & All-Defensive First Team.

Winner: Michael Jordan. It's hard to believe M.J. didn't win the MVP award that year, but a guy by the name of Magic Johnson ended up wining it. LeBron was nothing short spectacular in the 2010 season.

Age 26: Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James

 

Season 

GP

 GS 

MPG 

PPG

 TRB

 AST 

STL 

BLK 

TOV 

FG% 

3P% 

FT% 

TRB 

AST 

STL 

PTS

M.J.

1989-90

 82  

82

39

33.6

 6.9

6.3

2.8

.7

3

.526

.376

.848

565

519

227

2753

LBJ

2010-11 

79

79

38.8

26.7

 6.5

7.5

1.6

.6

3.6

.51

.33

.759

590

554

124

2111

Jordan: All-Star, Scoring Champion, Steals Champion, All-NBA First Team, & All-Defensive First Team.

James: All-Star, All-NBA First Team, & All-Defensive First Team.

Winner: Michael Jordan. Neither took home serious hardware, but Michael edges out LeBron in his first season with the Heat.

Age 27: Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James

 

Season

 GP 

GS 

MPG 

PPG 

TRB 

AST 

STL 

BLK 

TOV 

FG% 

3P% 

FT% 

TRB 

AST 

STL 

PTS

M.J.

1990-91

 82

82

37

31.5

 6

5.5

2.7

1

2.5

.539

.312

.851

492

453

223

2580

LBJ

2011-12

 62

62

37.5

27.1

7.9

6.2

1.9

.8

3.4

.531

.362

.771

492

387

115

1683

Jordan: MVP, NBA Champion, Finals MVP, All-Star, Scoring Champion, All-NBA First Team, & All-Defensive First Team.

James: MVP, NBA Champion, Finals MVP, All-Star, All-NBA First Team, & All-Defensive First Team.

Winner: Michael Jordan. Jordan takes a slight edge over James because he played in a full 82-game NBA regular season. LeBron James had an amazing 2012 NBA season and post season.

Overall Winner: Jordan 5-2 James

Everyone can now see why these two will forever be stuck being compared and contrasted to one another until the rest of time. Michael Jordan's legacy has been written and no longer needs to be proven. It is up to LeBron James to continue dominating the NBA like he has before. If James wants to continue being compared to some of the games greatest (i.e. Jordan & Johnson) he has to win at least a couple more championships before he retires to cement himself in their breaths.

After Jordan won his first NBA title he led the Bulls to two separate three-peat championships. James recently won his very first NBA championship and the clock has officially begun to see how many more he'll win.

 

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