Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Michael Jordan, 6 time World Champion. Lebron James, 3 time MVP. Players like these are in a class of their own. Or are they? Is Lebron James in the same class with Michael Jordan? Is Lebron James as good as Michael Jordan? These are all reasonable questions that I want to answer. Today I will compare Jordan and James by separate categories. The categories are: Scoring, Defense, Passing, Rebounding, and the Finale. I will compare the players and decide which one I believe is greater. Then I will decide if Lebron is even in the same class with Jordan. Feel free to comment and follow me on twitter @CJ_H_12.
Scoring: This one easily goes to Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan in his first 9 seasons averaged above 30 PPG 7 times! Lebron has done it twice. Jordan had also won 7 scoring titles while Lebron has done it once. Jordan’s career average is also 3 points higher than Lebron’s: James: 27.6. Jordan’s: 30.1. If you only count Jordan’s first 9 seasons then this is the result: James: 27.6 Jordan’s: 31.5. Lebron is a great scorer though. Lebron has averaged at least 27 PPG 7 times out of his 9 seasons. Jordan however wins this round.
Defense: This one goes to Jordan too. Michael Jordan is considered the greatest defensive shooting guard of all time. I can name 5 better defenders at the SG/SF position: Michael Cooper, Sidney Moncrief, Bruce Bowen, Metta World Peace, and Scottie Pippen. I would choose Jordan over Cooper Moncrief and Bowen and Metta are debatable. Lebron James has been selected to the NBA all Defensive First Team 4 times. Jordan in his first 9 seasons was selected to 4 NBA All Defensive First Teams and won a Defensive Player of the Year award. By the end of Jordan’s career he got nine selections to the first team which is a record (Gary Payton, Kobe, and Garnett are tied with Jordan too). Jordan by his ninth season had also lead the league in steals twice. Lebron has yet to lead the league in anything other than PPG once and MPG once. Jordan wins this category.
Passing: Most people would immediately go with Lebron for this one. That’s not the totally fair however. I’ll admit that Jordan was a poor teammate and a ball hog in his first couple of years. However, the 1990 season was the changing point in Jordan’s career. The reason his teams were losing was because he didn’t trust his teammates. He was always taking the shots. In 1991 though he started trusting his teammates and look what happened - He won two three peats. Jordan was also a very good passer. I recommend looking up Jordan highlights of him passing the ball. Now let’s face facts though, Lebron is a better passer and teammate. I have not heard one complaint from Lebron’s teammates. Jordan on the other hand punched Steve Kerr, ran Doug Collins out of Chicago, knocked Will Perdue, and continuously yelled at Bill Cartwright during games. Lebron has also averaged more assists per game. He even averaged more with the Cavs which were worst teams than Jordan’s teams in my opinion. Here are their career APG: Jordan: 5.3
Lebron: 6.9. This category has to go to Lebron.
Rebounding: This one we can go by the statistics. Since we are doing this, I will compare their RPG of their first nine seasons. Season 1: Lebron: 5.5 Jordan: 6.5
Season 2: Lebron: 7.4 Jordan: 3.6 Season 3: Lebron: 7.0 Jordan: 5.2
Season 4: Lebron: 6.7 Jordan: 5.5 Season 5: Lebron: 7.9 Jordan: 8.0
Season 6: Lebron: 7.6 Jordan: 6.9 Season 7: Lebron: 7.3 Jordan: 6.0
Season 8: Lebron: 7.5 Jordan: 6.4 Season 9: Lebron: 7.9 Jordan: 6.7
Career: Lebron: 7.2 Jordan: 6.2. As you can see Lebron clearly outrebounds Jordan in their first 9 seasons. Jordan however is actually a good rebounder for the shooting guard position. Here are some legends RPG: Kobe: 5.3 West: 5.8
Gervin: 5.8 Iverson: 3.3 Drexler: 6.1 Dwyane Wade: 5.1 Maravich: 4.2 Ray: 4.2
Reggie: 3.0. As you can see only Drexler compares to Jordan when it comes to rebounding. Either way you can’t go wrong with either of them. Lebron clearly outrebounds Jordan however.
Finale: For the Finale I will be doing a couple things: MPG/Games per season, shooting efficiency, clutch factor, leadership, and who knows how to win?
MPG/GPS: The first mini category is the MPG/GPS. James has averaged more MPG for his career than Jordan. Here is their career MPG: Lebron: 39.9 Jordan: 38.3. The next part of the MPG/GPS is games per season. This pretty much means durability. We will take away Lebron’s ninth season away because of the lockout. When we do this Jordan played more games than Lebron 7 times compared to once for Lebron because Michael broke his foot. If you take away Jordan’s broken foot season Jordan plays 23 more games than Lebron which means he plays more minutes for his team than Lebron. So the MPG/GPS advantage goes to Jordan. Jordan now leads 3-2.
Shooting Efficiency: Next is shooting efficiency. Jordan clearly shoots better from the field. Jordan had a better FG% 7 times compared to Lebron’s 2 when comparing their first nine seasons. There is also free throw percentage when it comes to shooting efficiency. Jordan clearly again beats out Lebron. Here are their career free throw percentages: Lebron: 74.6% Jordan: 83.5%. Last is 3 point percentage. Lebron actually beats Jordan in 3 point percentage. Jordan’s career 3 point percentage is 32.7%. Lebron’s is 33.1%. This will totally win you over when I show you this fact though: Jordan’s 3 point percentage average for first nine seasons: 24.8%. Here is Lebron’s: 33.1%. Lebron didn’t even go to college too! That means Lebron is now perfecting his shot! I can only expect Lebron’s 3 point percentage to go up. Jordan became a good 3 point shooter in 1990 when he averaged 37.6%. Jordan gets the advantage though because he shoots better from the field, shoots better from the free throw line, and is good three point shooter. The score is now 4-2.
Clutch Factor: The most obvious category is the clutch factor. In my opinion this is the easiest one to answer. No one and I mean NO ONE has come close to what Jordan did from 1984-1998. Lebron had an amazing playoff run don’t get me wrong, but Jordan did that from 1991-1998 (excusing the two year abstinence). Although Jordan wins this round, who knows Lebron might do that for the next 10 years. But until that Jordan wins this category. Jordan wins 5-2.
Leadership: Michael led by example. Lebron leads by example and talking positively. He doesn’t scream at teammates (Like Jordan), and he definitely doesn’t feel the need to physically attack teammates (Like Jordan). When Bill Cartwright was on the Bulls, Jordan constantly yelled at him. Jordan once embarrassed Cartwright so much; Cartwright took Jordan aside and said, “Look, if you ever do anything like that again, you will never play basketball again because I will break both your legs.” Seems like Jordan was a great leader right? Wrong. Lebron get’s this category.
Who Knows How to Win: Jordan has 6 championships and is 6/6 in the NBA Finals. Lebron has 1 championship and is 1/3 in the NBA Finals. If Lebron wins 5 more championships, I will consider giving this to Lebron.
Although I do believe Jordan is better than Lebron, I still have to answer if I think Lebron is in the same class with Jordan. My answer is YES. Lebron is already at 27 years old in the elite category for scoring and defense. He’s averaging about the same amount of PPG as Kareem Abdul Jabbar (taking away Kareem’s last 3 seasons). Lebron is also averaging more PPG than Karl Malone did for his career! If that didn’t convince you then I hope this will: If Lebron keeps up his average of 27.6 PPG for the next 3 years he will be at number 13 of all time points scored! All of this at the age of 30! Consider this too: If Lebron keeps up the 27.6 PPG for the next 6 years, he will have scored more points than Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Yes, he would be number one - Higher than Jordan. Lebron is also a 3 year member of the All NBA Defensive First Team in a row. I’m not expecting Lebron to give that up soon. Right now Jordan is the better player and scorer. If Jordan had played as many seasons as Kareem he would be the number one leader. Remember too, PPG is more important than total points for this reason: Somebody could score 20,000 points but play 2000 games and only average 10 PPG. That’s below average. So for Lebron to be considered a better scorer he has to pick up his PPG. Jordan is also a better defender than Lebron. In my opinion Lebron is not as good as Jordan but is in the same class with him. Thank you for reading and feel free to comment.
Winner: Michael Air Jordan