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A Typical Argument
When Michael Jordan retired for the third and final time in 2003, discussions began as to who could be the one player to dethrone the greatest of all time. Many players have come through the league since and declared their dominancy; some even considering themselves the “Answer” to the greatest player of all time. No one has come close. Not until recently that is.
With the recent surge in LeBron James’ game, many are starting to wonder is this the next G.O.A.T.? Statistically speaking, both Jordan and James are in a league of their own. Here are the career statistics of both players:
Michael Jordan (Career Avg.): 30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, 2.35 SPG, with shooting percentages of 32.7% from beyond the arc and 49.7% from the field.
LeBron James (Career Avg.): 27.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 6.9 APG, 1.7 SPG with shooting percentages of 33.6% from beyond the arc and 48.8% from the field.
These stats are very telling. Michael Jordan easily beats out LeBron James in points per game and steals per game. What this shows is how cut throat and cold-blooded Jordan was on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. MJ would never waste the opportunity to destroy his opponent in one-on-one match-ups. Jordan liked to dominant a game on his own, plain and simple.
What these statistics also show is how much more of a team player LeBron is than Jordan. Having the edge in rebounds per game and assists per game clearly shows how active James is in getting his teammates involved. LeBron James has always stated he would rather pass the ball to an open man then take the shot himself if he is being defended. This is a negative in the eyes of both analysts and fans. They claim that in order to be the best, you have to have that a killer mentality. This is why most observers acknowledge Jordan as the superior player.
Statistics aren’t everything though. Michael Jordan has also outperformed LeBron James in game clinching moments. That is no argument. Those situations are what really define a player as being one of the greatest. This is what elevated Michael Jordan into his God-like status in the 90’s, and how his legacy still remains in today’s generation. Not many players have come close to matching the number of Jordan’s records or championship rings.
The flip side of this though is that LeBron James is on pace to match many of these records, while also creating his own. Recently LeBron set a record of six consecutive games of 30+ points while shooting 60% from the field. LeBron is also the youngest player to ever score 20,000 points. Also both Jordan and James won their first championships eight years into the league. If LeBron James keeps up this momentum, he could easily reach some of Michael Jordan’s most esteemed records.
What it ultimately comes down to is this: LeBron James’ career isn’t over and there is plenty of time left for him to elevate to Jordan’s level. No one will ever replace what Michael Jordan did for the NBA. It is hard to imagine anyone matching the intensity, determination, and killer instinct Jordan brought every single night. It will be interesting to see how LeBron James finishes out his career. Ten years from now, we could be talking about a new G.O.A.T.
Final Thoughts: Happy Birthday MJ.
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