Look, if you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know I'm not the hugest Jordan guy around. Unlike many Bulls fans, I didn't get fall in love with the Bulls during the Jordan era. In fact, growing up, Magic Johnson was my favorite player. I was heart broken when the Bulls won their first title.
I came around, when Jordan joined the White Sox, my favorite team in all of sports at the time, and cheered loudly for the Bulls during the second threepete. To top it off, I've always liked Scottie Pippen more than Jordan for the most part, and I say all this just so you know I'm not some legacy protecting moron with a Jordan hard on.
But I watched Jordan's career, and LeBron James is no Michael Jordan
To LeBron's credit, and this guy deserves less credit in the area of being humble than about any human being alive, I don't think he's ever claimed he was.
Scottie Pippen hedged his bets with maybe and might and a bunch of other wishy washy words, but as a representative of the Bulls, after the Bulls lost to the Heat, he really comes out and says this?
Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to play the game" but James
"may be the greatest player to ever play the game.
This is indefensibly stupid.
Any statistician would look at the numbers and tell you the argument is crazy. That LeBron isn't even close.
Anyone who's watched playoff basketball and saw LeBron James quit on his team in the playoffs would note that he simply doesn't have the same heart.
Anyone who's wants to take a look at the award cabinet will note that LeBron's is considerably emptier than Micheal Jordan's is.
There is quite literally, no statistical metric, eye test metric, or intangible metric in which LeBron comes out on top in this debate.
Going to Miami sealed the deal on the "Can LeBron pass Jordan" debate
He may win a boatload of rings in Miami. I predicted 3-4 when the trio got together. They have the most talent in the league, and it's not even close. However, he also ended the pursuit of Jordan with the move.
If LeBron wins 6 rings in Miami, some lesser minds may elevate him in the debate, much like people have elevated Kobe in a far more ridiculous comparison, but in the end, the move to Miami potentially can push him there in terms of titles but also puts a brick wall in front of the argument.
He's playing with a guy in his prime, who basically single handedly won the NBA championship, and IMO, is the three way tie for 2nd best player in the NBA with Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard.
Pippen is a top 50 player, but Dwyane Wade is better. Rodman and Grant were good players, but Chris Bosh (mocking and all) is better. No one ever went through a debate in Jordan's career whether they needed to give the ball to Pippen at the end of the games because Jordan can't close.
Besides someone else to take the superstar burden off of LeBron, his stats are going to continue to take a beating relative to the numbers he put up before. I'm not saying the guy sucks, he's still the best player in the NBA, but his PER just dropped four points this season, and his points per 36 dropped considerably as well.
He's not the focal point that he could be, and that will be better for winning, but it also shows that he wasn't able to carry as large a load as Michael.
That said, LeBron is an all time great
I've seen only two players in the NBA that could have potentially rivaled Jordan in terms of value in this league since Jordan's prime.
Shaq and LeBron.
Shaq's career is done, at least his dominant prime is done. He never wanted it badly enough to be a Jordan. He couldn't stay in shape, and he never mastered free throws, and thus couldn't take over in the clutch. Those two things are all that separated Shaq from being in the debate for greatest player ever.
His combination of size, speed, and skill was nearly unfathomable, and if he had Jordan's work ethic, he would have had a shot at being the best of all time.
LeBron is similar. I think with LeBron, the timing killed him. Maybe if Jordan entered the league 20 years later he'd have had similar problems. LeBron had too much love too early. He doesn't seem to have the same burning desire.
When the going got rough, he quit on his team in the playoffs then fled to another team with a superstar to carry the burden for him. If he's able to win titles, we'll always look back at how he did it and think he took the easy way out.
In some ways this sounds harsh towards him, and I'm guessing that likely appeals to most Chicago sports fans, but legitimately, LeBron James is probably going to go down in my personal top 5 players of all time, and when all is said and done, I think he's likely to be in the conversation for the second best of all time (my guys in the conversation right now are Shaq, Magic, Bird, and Kareem)
However, his moves have locked himself in there. He can't pass Jordan, he's already proven he's no Jordan with his actions. He can never take it back, he can never win that metric. I'm guessing a boatload of titles and being in the conversation will be good enough for him though.
So what the hell was Scottie thinking?
I don't know how this guy could really think that. I don't know if he was just caught up in the moment like Mark Jackson (who once said Kobe > Jordan, Dirk > Bird, and Paul > Magic in one broadcast), if he's bitter at Jordan for stealing his limelight, or if he genuinely believes it.
It's just so difficult to believe anyone who's watched the game so much could possibly come to this conclusion.