When Michael Jordan-LeBron James comparison was bluntly put to rest by Hakeem Olajuwon: “Jordan is a far superior player”

2013 NBA Draft
Hakeem Olajuwon (2013 NBA Draft)

Given how dominant LeBron James has been since entering the NBA nearly 20 years ago, it's no surprise comparisons have been made between him and Michael Jordan.

Of course, James wasn't the first to be considered the successor to Jordan. Before him, it was Grant Hill, who many considered to be 'the next MJ' coming into the league.

When LeBron James finally landed in Cleveland and began his long and storied career, it didn't take long for the comparisons to Jordan to surface once more. It's something that has raged on to this day - the Jordan vs. James debate. With the Akron native quickly coming up on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring record, metaphorical fuel has poured on the fire that is the GOAT conversation.

On the heels of James' first championship win with the Lakers back in 2020, Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon spoke about the debate. At the time, he shut down talk of James being on Jordan's level. Although he made sure to give 'King James' plenty of praise for dominating the league for so long, 'The Dream' didn't think anyone could hang with Jordan:

"When people start comparing James with Jordan, then that's not a fair comparison. Jordan was a far more superior player in a very, very tough league, and he was very, very creative. That's not taking away anything from LeBron James because he is a great player, but it is not a fair comparison because I think Jordan is a far superior player."

You can see his comments in the video below from an interview with CNBC.


Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon's rivalry

Of course, Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon have been linked throughout the course of their famed NBA careers. In the 1984 draft, Olajuwon went first overall to the Houston Rockets, while Jordan went third to the Bulls. With the second pick of the draft, the Portland Trail Blazers infamously selected center Sam Bowie rather than Jordan, marking a historically bad decision for the franchise.

(Suggested reading: When LeBron James fired back at Charles Barkley for calling him whiny)

2022 NBA All-Star Game
2022 NBA All-Star Game

Throughout the course of their careers, the two men matched up 23 times, with Olajuwon getting the better of Jordan in 13 of those meetings. Despite that, 'The Dream' thought that Michael Jordan was nearly unstoppable. As he wrote several years ago in an article for The Players Tribune, Jordan possessed the unique ability to jump first and decide what he was going to do after:

"MJ wasn’t a traditional big man, but he was an everything guy. Michael was a genius on the low block. He really did jump first and decide in the air. Whenever we played the Bulls, we’d double and triple team MJ in the post as soon as he put the ball on the floor. Michael probably doesn’t get enough recognition for how well he passed out of the post."

He went on to explain how Jordan was torching the Rockets based on the scoring of the Bulls' big men. When Will Perdue and Luc Longley were cooking, it was because Jordan was drawing double teams & triple teams.


With the debate between Michael Jordan and LeBron James over GOAT status raging on, who do you think deserves the title? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below!

(Suggested reading: The time Mike Tyson was ready to beat up Michael Jordan)

Quick Links

Edited by Virat Deswal
Be the first one to comment