With the 50th birthday of the legendary Michael Jordan right around the corner there has been a lot of comparing in the air between MJ and LJ. Is LeBron the next Jordan? Who would win in a one-on-one game between the two? Is LeBron better than Jordan? Is LeBron the best…ever? From ESPN to your local sports news station it seems that this has been the talk ever since LeBron James stepped on to the court. At this point in both players career they have produced similar as far as winning percentage, MVPs, and Finals appearances. There is however one huge distinction — MJ won all three visits to the finals while LeBron only took home one.
I am not here to take anything away from the “King,” he is a great basketball player and will surely leave a huge mark on the game, but he is no Michael Jordan. If you look at the way the two play the game there are few similarities. In fact the aspects of LeBron’s game fall more in line with that of Wilt Chamberlin and Magic Johnson. If anyone on the court today plays MJ-esque it would have to be Lakers phenom Kobe Bryant. Jordan hit the court with the mindset that he was going to beat you single handedly a mindset that seemingly found its way into the head of Bryant. Watching LeBron and his charismatic approach to the game immediately reminds me of a Magic Johnson. James does have more of the scoring ability that Chamberlin possessed but when it comes to generating the offense James is almost a spitting image of Magic. In a sense comparing MJ and LJ is like comparing Nolan Ryan and Babe Ruth or Joe Montana and Ray Lewis. All amazing athletes but have completely different roles in the game. No one has attacked the goal like Jordan, not LeBron and not Kobe; it was the aspect of Jordan’s game that made him the Jump-man Air Jordan.
To compare any player to Jordan is somewhat irrelevant especially someone with only one ring. Maybe the time will come when LeBron’s game takes more of an attacking type style but for now the two can’t be categorized in the same class. LeBron said it best in a twitter response to all the commotion about the comparison; “I am not MJ, I’m LJ.”
When it comes to ranking players as the best it has to come down to who you want on the court to win a playoff game. Though LeBron’s current stretch of at least 30 points and 60 percent shooting is impressive it’s not the playoffs and Jordan did it in the ‘90s but at 46 points at 60 percent along with 10 rebounds and 5.5 assists. Besides Game 6 against Boston, LeBron’s playoff performance is still hanging in limbo waiting to be seen. Jordan was born for the playoffs. When the game is on the line you wanted the ball in his hands without question. In college Jordan hit the game winning shot to win the NCAA championship, he put up 63 points in the Garden against the legendary Celtics team in 86, and sunk the game winner at the buzzer against Utah with the flu. Where LeBron has lost three years in a row, Jordan never lost a playoff series when he had home-court advantage.
There is no doubt LeBron has the potential to be something great but to be the next Michael Jordan, not likely, nor will anybody else for that matter. With 6 NBA championships, 6 NBA Finals MVPs, 5 NBA MVPs, 14-time All-Star nominations, 10 scoring titles, 10 All-NBA First Team selections, 9 All-Defensive First Team selections, a Rookie of the Year award and a Hall of Fame enshirement, there is and always will be only one Michael Jordan.