Written by Abner Jackson III
This Michael Jordan and LeBron James debate needs to be put to rest now about who is better. Jordan is considered the best NBA player of all time in most people eyes. It’s unfair to compare LeBron to him due to him being an active NBA player. Once he retires we can debate then, not sure what we would be debating.
LeBron is an all around player and has more responsibilities than Jordan. I’m not taking away the greatness from Jordan at all. Jordan job was to score points with him being a shooting guard and he also was one of the best defensive players in the league. Jordan was a two way player, playing both ends on the court. Scottie Pippen was the Bulls all around player and the floor general for them.
LeBron should be compared to a stronger and faster version of Magic Johnson that can shoot and score better. His NBA Finals record isn’t the greatest either compared to Jordan’s. Jordan is perfect at 6-0 in the Finals and LeBron is 3-5. Jordan has two three-peats and LeBron only has one back to back championship. Players are measured by rings and if I’m excluding championships, Jordan is still better.
Before I get into both players NBA accolades and this debate, when did LeBron become better than Kobe Bryant aka The Black Mamba? Kobe is the closest thing we have ever seen to Jordan. Both players made the jump from high school to the NBA. LeBron was the number one overall pick in 2003 NBA draft and Kobe was the number 13th pick in the 1996 NBA draft. Kobe only started seven games his first two years in the league and LeBron has been a starter since he entered the league.
LeBron and Jordan had an advantage over Kobe for playing time their first two years in the league. Eddie Jones was the Lakers starting shooting guard and become an all-star Kobe rookie season. Kobe was traded to the Lakers on draft night from the Charlotte Hornets. Kobe could have won rookie of the year staying in Charlotte and his career would have been different.
Lets get to the comparisons of why Kobe and Jordan are better than LeBron. Before I start, Kobe has a 5-2 record in the NBA Finals. He has a three peat when Shaquille O’Neal played with the Lakers. His record was 3-1 with Shaq and 2-1 when Shaq left. He has one less championship than Jordan and a better finals record than LeBron with less appearances.
Jordan has five MVP awards, LeBron has four MVP awards and Kobe has one MVP trophy. Kobe has two scoring titles, Jordan has 10 scoring titles and LeBron has one scoring title. LeBron and Kobe has been selected to 11 All-NBA First Team and Jordan has been selected to 10 All-NBA First Team. Jordan and Kobe has been selected to 9 NBA All-Defensive First Team and LeBron has been selected to 5 NBA All-Defensive First Team. Kobe has 12 All-Defensive Teams selections and LeBron has 6 All-Defensive Teams selections.
Jordan won Defensive Player of the Year once and has lead the league in steals three times. Kobe or LeBron has never led the league in steals. Jordan and LeBron are both 14x NBA All-Stars and Kobe is a 18x All-Star. Kobe has 4 NBA All-Star MVP’s and Jordan and LeBron each has 3 All-Star MVP’s. LeBron has 3 NBA Finals MVP awards, Kobe has two and Jordan has six.
Kobe retired averaging 25 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.4 steals a game. Those are good numbers after averaging 11.5 points and averaging no more than 26 minutes a game his first two seasons. His career high in points is 35.4, 6.9 in rebounds, 6.3 in assists and 2.2 steals. Let’s not forget about his 81 point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, second highest number of points scored in a game.
Jordan retired averaging 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.3 steals a game. His career high in points is 37.1, 8 rebounds, 8 assists and 3.2 steals. Jordan and Kobe were assassins on the court and the two best ever with killer instinct to ever play in the NBA. They both played on both ends on the court and their All-Defensive teams selections proves that.
LeBron has career averages of 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.6 steals a game. His careers highs so far in points is 31.4, 8.6 rebounds, 9.1 assists and 2.2 steals. LeBron had to leave Cleveland to start a superteam with the Miami Heat. Him and Chris Bosh signed with Miami as free agents to team with Dwyane Wade. LeBron promised the city of Miami seven championships and he only delivered two during his four seasons in Miami.
Jordan and Kobe never left their teams to pursue a title, they let management bring in talent to help them. LeBron making the NBA Finals seven consecutive years is a big accomplishment even though the Eastern Conference hasn’t been that strong during those seven years. Personally I think Michael Jordan could have made the Finals eight consecutive years in a row if he never retired to play baseball. It’s a good chance he could have a 7-1 or 8-0 Finals records.
I know the Bulls would have beaten the Rockets, but my only concern would have been fatigue. The NBA was way more physical back then that it is now and the Bulls were old. After beating Utah back to back they had to split up or get a lot of young talent in to compete for a four peat. Kobe should be 6-1 or 7-0 in the NBA Finals. The Lakers were better than the Detroit Pistons that upset them in the Finals.
Karl Malone was hurt, Gary Payton was old and Kobe wanted to play hero ball instead of letting Shaq dominate. I also believe if Andrew Bynum was healthy in the 2008 NBA Finals, the Lakers had a good chance of beaten the Boston Celtics. LeBron James was outplayed by the Dallas Mavericks his first Finals appearance with the Heat. Miami was a better team and he folded under the pressure. He was nowhere to be found in the fourth quarter.
If he showed up against the Mavs he would have a 4-4 Finals record. James is a great scorer but not on Jordan and Kobe level as a scorer. If I needed a playmaker or floor general to run my team I would pick LeBron in a heartbeat out of the three. If I want a player that will put a dagger in you and not afraid of taking the last shot I’m picking Jordan or Kobe.
LeBron is a Magic Johnson that can score and he might pass or take the game winning shot. He is a Magic that can do a chase down block with ease and has a couple of All-Defensive Team selections. He just never led the league in assists like Magic and Magic also led the league in steals twice. LeBron has Jordan and Kobe in him, like when he scored 29 out of Cleveland final 30 points against the Pistons back in 2007.
He finished that game with 48 points against one of the best defensive teams in the NBA in the last 15 years. If LeBron did that often with his all around game, I would say he could be better than Jordan and Kobe. He doesn’t dominate enough like that and his clutch genes aren’t the same as Kobe and Jordan. They have gotten better based on the NBA playoffs this year.
LeBron will be a top 10 player of all time when he retires and that’s not up for debate. Jordan is the GOAT for now and Kobe is better than LeBron. We should be debating about Kobe and Jordan, not Jordan and LeBron. We definitely should appreciate the few years we have left to watch LeBron and his greatness. I definitely miss watching Kobe play, watching him shoot the fade away like Jordan and showing flashes of Jordan.
Women lie, men lie but numbers don’t. I gave proof of three of the best to ever step on a NBA court. Kobe and Jordan were better scorers and better defensively than LeBron. Both stayed loyal to the their teams and both know what a three peat championship feels like. Jordan even said himself he would pick Kobe over Lebron. Once again why are we having this Jordan vs. LeBron debate and when did LeBron become better than Kobe? He will never be better than Jordan, but will he become better than Kobe?