Ever the contrarian and headline-maker, Charles Barkley has come out and made increasingly-polarizing claim that LeBron James could be better than Michael Jordan.
It’s a discussion that grows more and more talked about with every passing season, and Sir Charles has now thrown his hat into the ring. "I do think he can be better than Michael,” said Barkley. “I thought I would never compare somebody to Michael Jordan. But this guy, LeBron James, he does everything well. Michael did everything well. LeBron James is just bigger… stronger… faster. That's the only difference.”
It’s true. LeBron James is a unique talent; a once-in-a-generation kind of talent. However, this argument will never be palpably real until James wins a few more rings. After all, Magic Johnson was a point guard who could do it all and retired (early) with five championships under his belt. The only reason no one dares make the claim that Magic was better than Michael is because everyone seems to accept that no one compares to Jordan particularly in the clutch. And, there’s the fact that Jordan’s Bulls defeated Magic’s “Showtime” Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals.
Though LeBron’s style is more reminiscent of Magic he is now indisputably the top player in the game, and he is in the thick of his prime—and he finally won his first championship this last season, dispatching the young powerhouse Oklahoma Thunder in five games. Jordan, famously, retired with six rings and from about 1991-1998 there was absolutely no dispute that he was the best player in the league. James, however is coming off one of the greatest years in world basketball history after winning the NBA Finals, Finals MVP, regular season MVP (his third), and an Olympic gold medal in London. Jordan is the only other player to pull off that quadruple crown.
Barkley, who has heavily criticized LeBron James in the past (namely after his legendary collapse against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals) makes the “controversial” comments in a round table discussion segment in the first episode of NBA TV’s new show Open Court, which premieres on Tuesday October 9th.
The discussion will rage on, especially now that the Miami Heat has emerged as a long-term force in the NBA. They are not going away any time soon and with the emergence of other “super teams” across the league he will be the centerpiece of every superstar discussion in this new superstar era of the NBA.