When LeBron James was in high school he did a famous magazine cover that said in big letters: The Chosen One.
He was supposed to be the next great player that would be the heir to the throne that Michael Jordan built.
Some say he has done it. Some say he will never be as great as Jordan.
I will go through different comparisons that will help clear the confusion on who is better. Or, in my attempt to do this, I will cause a storm of controversy. Either one is good.
This is first because this is the biggest argument. “LeBron doesn’t have as many rings as Jordan.” That was the main argument at lunch tables and other areas of debate for the average person growing up and it is true. Your legacy, if you’re a great superstar player, is determined by how many championship rings you win.
Bill Russell has eleven, Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson have five, Shaquille O’Neal has four, Larry Bird has three.
LeBron has three. Jordan has six.
Six. That is the number that LeBron is chasing and the number that has haunted him his whole career. In fact, that’s the number he chose when he went to Miami. Of course, he wore that number because that was showing respect to NBA/ABA legend Julius Erving but it’s plausible that the number six was also symbolic of his Jordan-like aspirations.
The era that Jordan played was a rough era and in order to be able to physically take the beating and grind of that era it would have to take a great deal of mental and physical toughness. He was able to go 6-0 in the finals also and that is where LeBron can’t compete.
LeBron has went 3-4 in the seven NBA Finals appearances and he has been to six straight NBA Finals from 2011-2016. That feat is something that is impossible to do because of the factors that go into playing long NBA season.
When it comes to rings, Jordan has that category won because he went undefeated and that is something LeBron will not be able to do.
When they say a player has that “It” factor that is the proverbial “ice water” in their veins that will not let them lose. In addition, having an “It” factor doesn’t just mean you elevate you’re game, you make everybody around you better.
The “ice water” is what Jordan is known for and why he is an icon. He just would not let you lose. Game-winning shot after game-winning shot, when you needed it he gave it to you. Jordan just had it. His motor wouldn’t let him fail and that hard work ethic made him into one of the most feared athletes in the world.
So he wins this right?
He doesn’t because LeBron does one thing that Jordan wasn’t great at and that was make his teammates better.
Yes Jordan was great but he was drafted in 1984 and didn’t go to the NBA Finals until 1991 which was 7 years later. At just 22-years-old, LeBron had his first NBA Finals appearance with players like Eric Snow, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Daniel Gibson, Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden and Damon Jones. LeBron missed the playoffs in his first two seasons but in just his second time making the playoffs, he made it to the NBA Finals.
He has dominated the Eastern Conference. He has never lost in the first round. The East is weak but look at other heralded superstars in the East like Carmelo Anthony and Paul George and look at where their teams are at in the standings.
LeBron just has “It.” He will not settle for less than success and his team will always be in the top-tier of the NBA.
The thing LeBron was most heralded for when he came into the league was his ability to fill a stat sheet. LeBron has Jordan-like athleticism with the ability to pass like Magic and he can guard any position on the floor. Jordan was also multi-dimensional and able to lead the league in multiple categories. He’s also won a Defensive Player of the Year award.
Still, this category has to go to LeBron because of the milestones he has reached. He is the youngest to reach almost every point milestone there is.
People will say that is not fair because Jordan went to college. That argument only adds to LeBron’s greatness.
LeBron was a four-year varsity player and the “phenom.” He drove a Hummer to high school and signed autographs like he was already in the NBA.
Jordan was struggling to make his varsity team is freshman year.
Jordan spent three years in college.
LeBron never touched a college campus and skipped the college ranks for the NBA.
LeBron’s numbers are consistent every year averaging around 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists for his career. At this pace, LeBron could become the NBA’s all time leading scorer. Jordan is fourth after Kobe passed him last year.
Jordan’s career stats are 30 points a game, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
Lebron’s accolades are three-time NBA champ, three-time Finals MVP, four-time MVP, two-time All-Star MVP, 12-time All-NBA, 13-time All-Star, 6-time All-Defensive Team he’s a 12 time all NBA player and Rookie of the Year in the 2003-2004 season.
Jordan’s accolades are six-time NBA champ, six-time Finals MVP, five-time MVP, three-time All-Star MVP, 11-time All-NBA, 14-time All-Star, nine-time All-Defensive team player, he’s a 11-time All-NBA player, Defensive Player of the Year in 1987-1988 and Rookie of the Year in 1984-1985.
Their accomplishments are pretty much the same and if you think about the fact that LeBron still has years left to play it’s safe to say that LeBron will shatter Jordan’s accomplishments.
Their field goal percentage is almost identical. Jordan shot 49.7 percent from the field his career and LeBron shot 50.0 percent for his career. Their efficiency is why they are the players that they are.
LeBron in his rookie year scored 20.9 points per game, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Jordan in his rookie year scored 5.9 assists and 6.5 rebounds.
Jordan clearly had the better rookie season but if you remember LeBron was only 18 and straight out of high school. He wasn’t a great shooter in the beginning of his career. Jordan was 21 and more mature.
LeBron when he was 21 averaged 31.4 points, six assists and 6.7 rebounds.
People will say that Jordan was a better shooter and LeBron can’t shoot but LeBron’s shooting percentage of 34.2 from three for his career is better than Jordan’s 32.7 percent for his career.
You can say that he is averaging more points a game than LeBron but LeBron only shoots the ball on average for his career 19.6 times and Jordan shot the ball 22.9 times a game on average. More shots equal more points.
In the playoffs the stats are the same. Jordan is averaging more points a game with 33.4 points with about 25 shots a game and LeBron has less shots a game with about 21 and only averaging 28 points a game.
LeBron is the ultimate pass-first player but when he wants to assert himself that is when he takes over games.
With these stats it is clear to see that LeBron will do more to help the players around him.
LeBron wins this comparison 2-1.
LeBron has just done more to help the players around him. He has dominated on the court and off the court in an era where there is social media and the athlete is under a 24/7 microscope. He has handled everything with maturity ever since high school and now in his fourteenth year in the league.
It’ll be interesting to see the heights that LeBron will take his career in these next upcoming years.