LeBron Will Never Be MJ, and That is For the Best

People always want to argue who is better, LeBron James or Michael Jordan, and we know that LeBron has looked up to Michael and wants to surpass him as the “greatest player ever.” But if people stopped focusing on comparisons, it would only benefit King James. The fact of the matter is that LeBron James will never be Michael Jordan, and frankly that’s the way it should be.

If you ask most Bulls fans, especially those who were around for the Jordan era, or even most NBA fans most likely, you will be told that Michael Jordan is the greatest player in the history of basketball and nobody will ever pass him. Hell, in the past I’ve said things like this and the majority of my exposure to His Airness is watching old game tape from before I was alive. Many fans of the NBA, many of them casual but plenty more hardcore fans as well, will talk about how much they hate LeBron, how terrible “The Decision” was and how he turned his back on the Cavaliers, etc. Here’s the thing: whatever you think of him as a person (and to be honest, I think he’s a pretty good guy when you get right down to it), LeBron is the best player in the NBA today, bar none. Durant is great and one day will be in the Hall of Fame, but LeBron is the best. That being said, there is no reason to compare him to the greatest player of a prior era.

Michael was amazing, simply put. He could do amazing things on the court, he was the toughest competitor around, he had off-the-charts intensity, he was the greatest player in the league when he was active. LeBron James is the same way now. He is just incredible, and as someone who hates the Miami Heat from a fan’s perspective, it kills me to say that he’s just better than everyone else. Getting to watch him play is really something special. Does he get plenty of calls (or no-calls) during games? Of course he does. So did Jordan. The things that LeBron does on the court are just remarkable, and NBA fans should truly consider themselves lucky to be able to witness one of the greatest players to ever play the game.

We have a culture that always wants to have a clear-cut number one in everything. I’m a competitive guy, I feel the same way about most things. This is one situation where the argument isn’t necessary and is frankly only a negative thing. Michael Jordan was an incredible dunker, a good shooter, arguably the best competitor the league has ever seen. LeBron James is a physical freak. This isn’t the greatest comparison considering he is yet to play a snap in the NFL, but all the hype around Jadeveon Clowney being a monster physically over the last couple of years? LeBron James is the basketball version of that (interestingly, LeBron played football in high school too. He was named All-State as a wide receiver as a sophomore.). James is much more physically imposing than Jordan, and because of that he can do more things on the floor. Does that make him better? Not necessarily, just like how Jordan may have had some better skills than LBJ has, but still isn’t clearly a better player.

LeBron James and the Miami Heat are in pursuit of their 3rd straight NBA Championship, and they’re the favorites to win it, again. You can call him a championship chaser if he wants, you can talk about how it’s unfair to have the Big Three or whatever, but King James is the best player on the obvious best team. If they win again though, the comparisons will be made even more. The sensationalized headlines write themselves. “James Now Halfway to Jordan Title Total,” “Does LeBron Have Enough to Match Michael’s Number of Titles?” Who cares? So what if he finishes with five or with seven, the two of them will both be remembered as two of the greatest ever. Comparing the two is just foolish. Using titles as a barometer for greatness is a flawed metric, because how often is Bill Russell, owner of 11 championship rings, considered the greatest ever? LeBron is playing in a different era than MJ did, the game is different. James is a physical monster, he has a pure physical advantage over Jordan.

I’m not trying to make the unpopular argument that LeBron James is a better player than Michael Jordan was, I’m trying to say that you cannot compare the two. Constantly placing LeBron James in Michael Jordan’s shadow is not being fair to the best player in the world today, that player being LeBron James. The comparisons will never end, but the two players will never be on equal enough footing to pick one player as superior to the other. MJ was incredible, one of the best ever undoubtedly, but it’s time that we appreciate LeBron not for trying to be the next Michael Jordan, but for being the one and only LeBron James.

 

I’ve got plenty more writing over on my personal blog, Per audacia ad astra. The opinions are also always flowing over on my Twitter as well.

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