Lebron vs. Jordan: Crowning the King?
“I want my damn respect” was one of LeBron James’ final comments given to the media after winning his fourth NBA Championship. Finishing off a truly unforgettable NBA season. What better way to remember the death of Kobe Bryant than the Lakers winning in his honor.
However with another LeBron James title brings out the age old debate of who is the greatest player of all time. Which at this point in times seems about as polarizing as politics these days. With both sides attacking each other like boxers with feriocus jabs. Each bringing criticism that is relevant.
What is LeBron’s case that he is better than Michael “Air” Jordan? To LeBron defenders it is his overall resume as a player. He has been to 10 finals and at one point went to eight straight. The Jordan criticism would be that he hasn’t won all of them. The counter to that is LeBron’s teams have never had the help or coaching that Jordan has had. What point LeBron’s side has is that his career will finish most likely better than Jordan’s. As LeBron is currently 3rd in scoring, 8th in assist, and 48th in rebounding. (Via Espn.com) With a career that only looks like it’s growing stronger and stronger.
The case for Jordan is quite simply. He won two three-peats, and was the most imposing player on the floor in an era where it was encouraged to play rough. He defeated every Hall of Player thrown at him from Isiah Thomas to Magic Johnson to the duo of Stockton and Malone. All of these players are arguably top 25 players of all time. Jordan was the best player on the famed “Dream Team”, which to most basketball historians is the greatest team of all time. Therefore the greatest player on the greatest team ever makes him the greatest player ever. Jordan’s name has been synonymous with greatness, but LeBron is a worthy opponent.
I asked the local experts on the game of basketball about this argument between Jordan and LeBron. One of the prominent questions that is thrown around is who would win 1v1. The men’s basketball Head coach Josh Hinz had this to say “If you had to make me choose I would probably take Jordan only because he was the player of my generation and was the main reason I fell in love with basketball.” He made sure to add though only “if it’s make it take it”.
One of the arguments that the LeBron side has is that his second three peat is overrated because of the dilution of the league because of the 1995 expansion draft which added the Tornto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies (Now in Memphis). He had no challenge holding back telling those people (and me) were “full of crap.” Hinz followed up with a quote saying “his titles and records would be diluted, as diluted would only come into play here to ease the pain of this Jordan vs. LeBron debate”.
I spoke to another local expert in former men’s basketball coach and current Dean of Students Cecil Youngblood about the debate he had this to say. The Dean said “Who is better or who is the GOAT. Jordan is the GOAT. Jordan is the greatest and best of all time. LeBron is one of the best athletes to play basketball of all time.”
Seeing he was on the Jordan side I tried to dig deeper into why Jordan was the clear cut G.O.A.T in his mind. I asked about LeBron’s legacy considering that is one of the knocks on him. A 2008 conference finals exit against the Celtics being one of the only bad marks on LeBron’s legacy. Youngblood had to say via email “No… not at all…. Scottie Pippen didn’t go in at the end of a game in crunch… he is still considered a great! LeBron has done enough that nothing will hurt his legacy. He is amazing. He’s a beast amongst minions. Not his fault!”
So if it wasn’t LeBron’s legacy to Youngblood then what makes Jordan better to him. He had this to say on the matter “Jordan transcends the game. The intangibles are what make him the GOAT! You asked if he would beat LeBron 1 on 1. Absolutely because he would do whatever he had to do to beat him!”
I asked local student Dylan Ackermann, who is a Lakers fan, on why he thought LeBron was the G.O.A.T. He said “LeBron’s career will do all the talking for himself, and he took three different franchises to the finals and won”. He also brought “A title back to Cleveland which is crazy considering they are known for losing.”
Each side has pressing arguments that need to be evaluated. The experts currently seem to side with Jordan, but who knows how many more years LeBron will play. How many titles he could finish with, and how many more MVPs he will win. LeBron’s book is still being written, and Jordans has closed. That book though is the greatest book ever written and will be hard to top. Maybe it’s not time to crown the king yet.