Michael Jordan or LeBron James?
We are a few hours away from game 2 of the NBA Finals and the King, LeBron James, is out there leading his Cavs to the Finals as the lone warrior. He has, without a doubt, proven that he is the best player in this generation by his selfless and mind blowing plays right from the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs. Posting unbelievable stats in almost every game, he has left teams shaken, contemplating as to whether to double team or sometimes even guard him with all five of their on-court players. He has been a machine, playing all of the 48 minutes when called upon and has carried the team to claim the Eastern Conference Championship once AGAIN!! It's nice to have seen the evolution of LeBron James from a really energetic and excited kid from St Vincent St Mary high school who liked to dunk every ball he could, to being the most hated player for leaving the Cavs and going to the Heat(where he won 2 rings with the Flash and Bosh) and to finally return to the Cavs and lead them to four straight NBA Finals. Damn! That's one good resumé you have there, it's no surprise you're called King.
Admitted that he is amazing and makes seemingly impossible plays look rather easy, but aren't all of us getting a little carried away by calling LeBron James the greatest of all time? Over His Airness, Michael Jordan?
Allow me to explain to you the type of Beast everyone (for the most part, kids of this generation) is comparing Bron to
His Airness, Michael Jeffrey Jordan (yes, his middle name is Jeffrey) was a skinny kid at The University Of North Carolina. He was just a freshman when he had a chance to bring home the 1982 NCAA championship. But little did that skinny, not-so-popular kid know that that would be the shot that could change his career.
He sunk the shot from the left baseline and helped the Tar Heels to clinch the 1982 NCAA championship. This was no easy win as it was against a pretty stacked Georgetown Team with The Future Hall Of Famer Patrick Ewing. He was a monster of a player standing 7 feet tall.
But coming back to MJ, he was just so confident about his skills, honed by the number of hours practicing with his brother at their hometown in Welmington, that he didn't hesitate to take the final shot, taking the Tar Heels to the top. This guy had the NBA mentality before even joining the NBA.
Despite being cut from his High School Varsity team, he fought back to the top. This guy had the NBA mentality before even joining the NBA, up there in terms of mentality, grit and confidence.
Now, onto his next chapter. He was drafted by the Bulls with the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft.This draft class had some big guns, led by Hakeem The Dream Olajuwon, the most versatile post player to ever play the game in my opinion(Youtube him). Back to Mr 23's game, he was out there all by himself, dunking, tongue out, posterizing players and finishing all around the rim gliding through the air. In his rookie season.
Everybody knew it was the start of a Bulls Dynasty where Michael would be their dictator. He would put on a show for the fans every game. Such was his consistency, it was no surprise when he went on to win the ROY that season, the decision being unanimous. The Bulls had one of their worst seasons before the draft and the United Center was barely full.
But the arrival of his Airness brought back the excitement in the United Center and there it was, a beginning of a new era and a new Dynasty. As a rookie, he dominated against veteran defenders like Magic, Bird and other future Hall of Famers.
The 1985-86 season was unfortunate for Michael, when he broke his foot and was sidelined for 64 games. Bulls had a 30-52 record but still managed to qualify for the playoffs. Michael went on to score 63 points against the Larry Bird-led Celtics. He battled The Great Larry Bird and scored 63. Man, that's one heck of a player, in my opinion.
To start Michael's breakout season - the 1986-87 season - the Bulls brought in a new Head Coach in the form of Doug Collins and they finished with a 40-42 record. It was all MJ for the Bulls. He scored above 40 points in 9 consecutive games through the end of November and dropped 61 against the Detroit Pistons on March 4th(My Birthday :D). He made the All NBA First team in just 3 season of his career. WOOWW!!!!!!. He also won the Slam Dunk contest and played the All Star Game that year.
But you would say only Championships matter, wouldn't you? I get it. Let's move on to the 1987-88 season where MJ goes all in and wins the MVP(all star and regular season) and the Defensive Player Of the Year. Yes. He won both of them. And guess who finished second and third on the DPOY list? You guessed it right, Bird and Magic.
This man was on the verge of dethroning Magic and Bird as the best players on the planet. MJ led them to a 50-32 record that season to beat the Cavs in the first round followed by a loss to the pistons in the second round. Yeah I know, no championship yet, but then again, none of the truly great stories come easy, do they?
Onto the 1988-89 season. MJ leads the League in scoring, averaging 32.5 ppg, while leading the Bulls to the playoffs again. This time, they beat the Cavs in the first round where THE SHOT was made by Michael Jordan over Craig Ehlo which sunk the Cavs in 5 games. The Bulls later went on to defeat the Patrick Ewing-led Knicks in 6 brutal and physical games.
There were a lot of fights, pushing and even some punches thrown. The Knicks 5 consisted of players like Mark Jackson, Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley(traded from the Bulls the previous season). They were the favorites to win the Championship that season, but oh well. The Bulls eventually lost to the BAD BOYS(the Detroit Pistons).
Their so-called "Jordan Rules" were used to stop Michael Jordan. Can you believe that? Just goes to show how great a player you are when a team creates a defensive strategy around you and even do you the gracious honour of naming it after you. However, Jordan couldn't match the physical challenge and the Bulls lost the series 4-2. But he knew what he had to work on, that Off Season. His STRENGTH.
Now the 1990-91 season, where MJ was much stronger and ready for any challenge that came his way. He led the Bulls to a 61-21 record and he secured his second MVP and scoring title . He came back stronger into the playoffs and breezed through the playoffs to the eastern conference Finals, where he would face his nemesis, the BAD BOYS, again.
But this time it was a different story. Michael was unstoppable and the Bulls swept the Pistons. He later went on to lead the Bulls to the championship by beating the favorites, Los Angeles Lakers, lead by Magic. This prompted the start of the Chicago Bulls Dynasty. MJ later led the Bulls to 3 consecutive championships. Back. To Back. To Back.
The tragic death of his farther forced him to retire during the 1993-94 offseason. He moved over to baseball for a couple of years but couldn't accomplish himself as he wasn't good enough.
He later came back from retirement for the 1994-95 season by simply faxing a memo saying "I'm Back". The Bulls lost to the Magic in the Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup that season, which included Penny Hardaway and a young Shaq.
The 1995-96 season was simply record breaking.They signed Dennis Rodman(The Best Rebounder to ever play the game) and John Salley. The Bulls finished with a then record of 72-10 (This record was recently broken by the 2015-2016 Warriors who, however, didn't win the championship).
MJ was an unstoppable and unwavering beast and conquered every team on his way to claim the NBA Championship. They went on to win 2 more championships post the 95-96 season, going back to back to back AGAIN. And who can forget Jordan's Last shot in his Last Dance on Bryon Russell (yes there was a little pus, but who cares!)
Now that we have a brief summary of MJ's career and accomplishments, allow me tell you, in my opinion, why he is the GOAT and LeBron is not.
When we talk about the greats in the NBA, the first question that arises: How many championships has he won? This is a blaringly obvious win for MJ with 6, while LeBron has 3.
MJ had that killer mentality, focused on winning games and nothing else. This mentality was showcased in many of MJ's games, sometimes playing with a flu or with back spasms and still scoring over 40 points in those games. LeBron is also a similar player, but his mentality was never close to Jordan's.
3) Rivals and Opponents
The fact that MJ won 6 championships is not that surprising, but the teams he competed and won against makes the wins even more fruitful. He faced the dreaded BAD BOYS, the Physical New York Knicks and the Orlando Magic. The East was not as easy as it is now, for LeBron to overcome. So in terms of opponents, MJ had to give it his all to overcome a team in every series of the playoffs, while LeBron could just breeze through to the Finals.
No offense to LeBron here, but in my opinion, loyalty is a factor for greatness. As you all know LeBron has switched to teams like Miami which were pretty stacked before he came in. He also returned to the Cavs, which had 2 All-stars in Kyrie and Kevin Love. But on the other hand MJ stuck to the Bulls and built a Dynasty there, be it his own or the team's that one is talking about.
We have clearly seen that LeBron has moved to teams that were pretty stacked already. For example: The Miami heat had D-Wade and Bosh, The Cavs had Kyrie and KLove on his return. But MJ had to build a dynasty from scratch on his own. Yes, Pippen was there, you would say.
But when you watch the games, you would see one man dominating the game and that is none other than Michael Jeffrey Jordan, The God of Basketball.
So, in my opinion, Jordan would always be the GOAT. Over LeBron.
I am also baffled as to why Kobe Bean Bryant is being forgotten so early, but let's leave that for another post.
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 16:10 IST