Since entering the league back in 2003 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lebron James has constantly been compared to the greatest player in league history; Michael Jordan.
He was the “Chosen One”. He was “The King”. He even wore Jordan’s #23 to boot.
There is always a ton of pressure that comes with comparisons to “his Airness”. M.J isn’t exactly the easiest person to catch up to when it pertains to all of his awards, championships and overall accomplishments in the NBA.
Everyone from Harold Minor and Vince Carter to Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant has drawn the “Jordan comparison” at some point in their career. If you’re an athletic 6’5 guard with a knack for shooting, winning games and dunking the basketball, then it’s bound to happen.
Many skeptics felt that in order for James to be mentioned in the discussion (realistically of course), he would need to win an NBA Championship. However dominant a player Lebron is/was on the court, he could never truly be the next M.J without some rings on his fingers.
Now at the ripe young age of 27, Lebron James has finally become an NBA Champion.
Michael Jordan didn’t win his first ring until he was 28.
Does that make James a better player than Jordan? Of course not.
Does that make James a better player than Jordan at this point in their careers?
Career Regular Season Stats at 27 Years of Age
Career Playoff Stats at 27 Years of Age
Career Awards and Accomplishments at 27 Years of Age
|Player||ROY||A.S. MVP||All-NBA||All-NBA Def||DPOY||MVP||Finals MVP||Conf. Titles||NBA Rings|
*courtesy of BleacherReport
Looking at both players statistics and accomplishments at the age of 27, you can see that Lebron is leaps and bounds ahead of where Michael Jordan was at that point.
There are so many factors to consider when using these numbers as a stable for the James/Jordan debate.
At 27 years of age (for both players), Lebron already has 2 years of NBA experience over Jordan at this stage, mainly because James entered the league straight out of high school while Michael played for the UNC Tar Heels in his college tenure.
If you look at both players statistics after 9 years in the league rather than the age of 27, you would see that Michael Jordan actually had more points, blocks and steals than Lebron James. Instead of having James dominate in every statistical category, the race would be a lot closer and would actually favor Jordan in some respect.
Michael Jordan only played 18 games during his 2nd year in the league and 17 games in 94-95. That should also factor in as well.
I find it amazing how easily we forget how dominant Michael Jordan was during his time in the NBA…..
- Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (Class of 2009)
- 2 Olympic Gold Medals – 1984, 1992
- 6× NBA Champion
- 6× NBA Finals MVP
- 5× NBA MVP
- 10 NBA Scoring Titles
- 3× steals leader
- 3× minutes leader
- 14 All-Star selections
- 3× All-Star game MVP
- 11 All-NBA selections
- 9 All-Defensive Team First selections
- 2× NBA Slam Dunk Champion
- NBA Rookie of the Year – 1984-85
- NBA Defensive Player of the Year – 1987-88
- Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year– 1991
- Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history in 1996
- Ranked No.1 by SLAM Magazine’s Top 50 Players of All-Time
- Ranked No.1 by ESPN Sportscentury’s Top 100 Athletes of the 20th century
- Elected to North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame
Lebron James wins 1 NBA Championship (in a shortened season mind you), and all of a sudden we want to anoint him the best basketball player ever (or at the very least, the next Michael Jordan).
Yes, at 27 years of age, Lebron James was a better player (statistically) than Michael Jordan, but that is such a scapegoat argument for James has he clearly had an edge in seasons and games played. Those stats are flawed at best.
In the grand scheme of things, Michael Jordan is/was/and probably will always be the greatest basketball player who ever lived. He was the ultimate leader who was not only the greatest scorer during his era, but he was also the most dominant defensive player as well. He had all of the intangibles it took to be a champion. While Lebron James has shown those same qualities on occasion, it still pales in comparison to that of M.J.
Lebron James still has a long way to go to even be within an arms reach of Michael “Air” Jordan. This race isn’t nearly as close as some people may think.
Let’s face it; if anyone can do it, it’s Lebron James.
Just not now though…..
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports