OK, people; we’ve been through this before in my blog. Let me start off by stating facts: LeBron James is still not as good as Michael Jordan. We will break it down categorically in this blog, but before doing that, it’s important to understand that statistics alone do not make you a better player than another. There are many factors. So without further adieu, let’s break it down.
Statistics: Let’s start in a category that actually favors LeBron James.
Through 1061 games in the regular season, LeBron James has played an average of 38.9 minutes again compared to Michael’s 38.3 minutes per game in 1072 games. So, as you see, the two have pretty much played the same amount of games at this point. Lebron has a FG% of .501 in his career thus far and Michael has .497. LeBron has a career .342 3pt% to Michael’s .327. LeBron has a .740 FT% while Michael has .835. LeBron earns an average of 7.3 total rebounds per game (TRB) while Michael averaged 6.2. And LeBron averages 27.1 points per game (PPG) while Michael averaged 30.1
In the postseason, LeBron has played 212 games and has a total of 8915 minutes played while Michael played in 179 playoff games and earned 7474 minutes played. LeBron has a .483 FG% in the playoffs while Michael has a .487 FG%. LeBron shoots a .329 3pt% in the playoffs and Michael has .332. LeBron’s FT% in the playoffs is .744 while Michael’s is .828. LeBron’s total rebounds in the playoffs is 1862 while Michael’s is 1152.
Statistical Breakdown: All in all, the numbers are pretty close, but, for the most part, LeBron James comes out on statistics.
Intangible Statisitics: With LeBron not having yet finished his career, it’s difficult to look at intangible statistics but let’s give it a try.
LeBron James: 13x all star, 13x All-NBA, 2003-04 All-Rookie, 3x Finals MVP, 2003-04 ROY, 3x NBA champ, 6x All-Defensive, 2x All Star MVP, 4x MVP. Record in NBA Finals (3-4)
Michael Jordan: 14x all star, 11x All-NBA, 1984-85 All-Rookie, 6x Finals MVP, 1984-85 ROY, 6x NBA champ, 9x All-Defensive, 3x All Star MVP, 5x MVP, 1987-88 Defensive POY Record in NBA Finals (6-0)
Intangible Statistics Breakdown: LeBron James’ career isn’t yet over and he’s quickly approaching and surpassing Michael Jordan’s intangible statistics. By career’s end, LeBron will most likely pass Michael in all intangible statistics.
Positioning: It’s important, however, to understand that LeBron James is a Small Forward and Michael Jordan was a 2-Guard. These are two very different people and this is the beginning of how the 2 players are very, very different.
Athleticism: LeBron James is listed at 6-8, 250lbs. Michael, while playing was 6-6, 198lbs. That’s quite a difference in pure strength.
Team vs. Team: There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Michael Jordan’s Bulls were far superior to LeBron James’ Cavs and Heat teams. But it’s important to know that if Michael Jordan’s Bulls played the Heat, Scottie Pippen would have guarded LeBron James and Dwayne Wade would have guarded Michael Jordan. I would imagine Michael Jordan would have an easier time playing against Dwayne Wade than LeBron James playing against Scottie Pippen. If LeBron James and the Cavs played against Michael Jordan and the Bulls, LeBron would have again been guarded by Pippen but Michael would have been guarded by Kyrie Irving. As good as Kyrie Irving is, that’s not much of a match-up. But let’s put the teams aside and go back to focusing on the two individuals.
Michael’s Leadership: Growing up in Chicago as a Bulls fan, I can tell you that when I would watch Bulls games with my family, and say the Bulls were losing as they headed into the 4th quarter, and Michael had let’s say 12 points at that time, we still factored that he would have his 30 points and sure enough, the Bulls would win and Michael would score 30 points. Michael Jordan was a sure bet. There was nothing like him because he willed himself and his team to win. He made the players around him better; not just the teams and how the teams fared, but the individual players. Michael Jordan wasn’t amazing because of statistics; Michael Jordan was amazing because he took the court feeling untouchable. He wanted the ball all the time and wanted to win perhaps more than anyone else ever did.
LeBron’s Leadership: Though LeBron James has grown and matured greatly during his time in the NBA, there have been times he hasn’t been the best leader. Before LeBron fans jump down my throat, I will agree his an amazing athlete and an amazing basketball player. He can be considered one of the best of all time, and he has made his teams better and allowed them to get to, and even win, the NBA Finals. However, in my opinion, LeBron James doesn’t make the individual players around him better. There are times he hasn’t always rushed back on defense. There have been times he has given up on his team. There have been times he hasn’t wanted to take the final shot. There have been times he would rather pass the ball than score. He never posts up in the paint, which would have actually allowed him to already be the leading scorer in NBA history. And he has whined about fouls endlessly and even flopped terribly. I’m sorry but these are not characteristics of a leader. Again, he is an amazing talent but he could be so much more if he refined his game a bit and became a true leader rather than whiner.
The Competition: ESPN would lead you to believe that the competition LeBron James faces is more fierce than that of Michael Jordan’s competition. I’m not going to break down everything here…it would take too long. But, I can tell you first hand that the competition is nowhere near the same. Not even the game is the same. I’ll sum it up with this. LeBron James has played his entire career in a very, very, very weak Eastern Conference. And while Michael Jordan also played in the Eastern Conference, think about how the game was played when Michael Jordan played and think about the players Michael Jordan went up against. In essence, it’s really no comparison between the two players’ level of competition.
Reality: By nature, I’m mostly seen as not being nice. That boils down to my keen ability to upset people with reality. While some would say it’s my perception of reality, I like to be 100% honest at all times. I see no point in trying to fool people. So here it is, folks; LeBron James is more comparable to Magic Johnson than anyone else. While he hasn’t reached Magic’s level yet, he very well may. He is very close right now. If anyone can be compared to Michael, it’s Kobe Bryant. While Kobe never reached Michael’s level, he came the closest. Why, you ask? Because Kobe Bryant was a leader like Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant had an ability to learn from losses, grow, mature and ultimately will his team to victory. So, if you want to compare players, compare them correctly. Magic vs. LeBron and Michael vs. Kobe. That’s the real comparison.