After the Lakers recent NBA finals championship, the debate of the greatest player of all time reignites between Lebron James and Michael Jordan.
Despite all of the accomplishments that Michael Jordan has earned in his basketball career, Lebron James’ resumé sticks out more than any other.
The opposition believes Jordan is the greatest of all time (GOAT) because of what he accomplished in the NBA finals and his ability to score whenever he pleased.
“The reason that I think Jordan is the GOAT is [because] he is 6-6 in the finals. He has won MVP of the league five times and should have won more. He has ten scoring titles and averaged an amazing 30.1 points per game,” said Colin Neusch, a Perkiomen Valley student.
Going undefeated in the finals, and having ten scoring titles are very impressive stats. With that being said, basketball is not all about scoring. Many Jordan fans seem to forget that there are other stats in the game of basketball.
In contrast to Neusch’s argument, another Perkiomen Valley student Gil Williams said, “For me, Lebron is the GOAT because he is an all-around better player. He’s a better leader, passer, rebounder, and a more versatile defender than Mike. You also can not leave out Lebron’s ability to score, he has averaged 27.1 points per game in his career so far. While being more dominant than Mike, I feel like he is just a better player to model your game after.”
Many believe that James has always had a very good supporting cast on his teams that he has won finals with. More so than Jordan had with Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and other role players like Toni Kukoc. Aidan Milligan, a Perkiomen Valley senior, stated, “Lebron can’t win without a team surrounded by other all-star level players.”
It is very easy to say this when looking at some of Lebron’s rosters. There have also been teams with zero talent other than Lebron and he still finds a way to take them to the finals. A statistic that many people do not consider is the value over replacement (VORP) stat which measures how much a player contributes to winning when they are on the court. Lebron James has a VORP of 133.7 while Jordan’s is 116.1. “Mike always had a loaded roster while Lebron has not always had dominant rosters but he still finds a way to take those rosters to the finals. Lebron has also won against far better opponents and dynasties,” Williams said.
Lebron is often criticized for being too soft and gets every foul called in his favor. Some critics say he would not survive a single game if he played in the era that Jordan played. “Jordan had to play against the bad boy Pistons with Bill Laimbeer; those guys would commit a hard foul every time Jordan got in the paint,” Neusch said.
While that Piston team was an overly aggressive group of players, Jordan would get his foul calls. So much so that the opposing coaches that Jordan played against came up with something called “The Jordan Effect.” This phenomenon was created because if the referee saw an opponent being a little rough to Jordan, they were very quick to call a foul. But, if Jordan were to be aggressive with an opponent, it was more than likely that he would not get a foul called on him.
This topic will go down as one of the most difficult debates to solve due to these two legends playing in different time periods. Lebron’s legacy and path to success is a more impressive story than Jordan’s success. Lebron has beaten super teams, taken down dynasties, and brought back a championship home to Cleveland which should go down as the greatest and most difficult championship that has ever been won. He put the entire city of Cleveland on his back and brought the Cavaliers back from a nearly impossible 3-1 deficit.
Lebron and Jordan are cemented as the top two players of all time no matter how people look at it. Jordan has always gotten so much respect and credit over time for his accomplishments. Lebron does not get the respect he deserves. People are blind to his greatness and will regret the fact that they did not appreciate him. He is a once in a lifetime athlete that the world may never get to see again. He will end up being glorified by most of his haters years after he retires, but why wait while you can just enjoy his greatness while he plays.
Sources: sportingnews.com, bleacherreport.com