When LeBron James recently became the youngest player to reach 20,000 points against the Golden State Warriors, it sparked more comparisons between him and sports icon Michael Jordan.
When LeBron first came into the league, I rooted for him and the underrated Cleveland Cavaliers on a regular basis. Then, when he decided to make “The Decision” and take his talents to South Beach, my attitude toward him changed.
Part of it was because I was upset that the Heat might be better than the Celtics, but most of the reason I stopped rooting for him is the attitude he showed throughout the decision.
From James and Heat teammate Dwayne Wade mocking Dirk Nowitzki for being sick during the finals to James telling people and fans that they’ll go back to their crappy lives, I have just lost a lot of respect for him over the years.
But despite my growing dislike for him as a person, my fondness of him grew the more he played. On the court, LeBron can do things that so many other players can’t. Sometimes, he’s literally unstoppable.
His play in the Olympics was great and left no doubt that he is the best player in the world right now.
After he got his 20,000th point, the comparisons to not just Kobe, but MJ started flying around. And as great as Lebron is right now, he’s not better than Kobe or MJ.
Don’t forget that Lebron was in the league at 18 while Jordan didn’t come until 21. Also, although James is the youngest to reach 20,000, Wilt Chamberlain and Jordan are the fastest to reach the feat.
If you go by season stats, Lebron and Jordan are almost identical. Jordan holds the edge in scoring ability while Lebron can distribute like a regular point guard. But the real difference is in the playoffs and individual accolades.
Lebron is a three-time MVP, eight-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA First Team, and a four-time All-Defensive Team. He also has a scoring title, Rookie of the Year, NBA Finals MVP and an NBA Championship.
That’s already a pretty impressive resume. But let’s look at how he did it. He left a team in Cleveland for a team that was already a contender and joined a man who had already won his ring in 2006, in Wade, while also convincing fellow All-Star Chris Bosh to join them both. James also choked in his first appearance in the finals as a member of Miami against the Mavericks.
Jordan was five-time MVP, 14-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA First team and a nine-time All-Defensive Team. Jordan is a 10-time Scoring Champion, Rookie of the Year, six-time NBA Finals MVP and a six-time NBA Champion.
Jordan is clearly the better scorer and clearly more clutch. MJ also has a Defensive Player of the Year award under his belt, which James has yet to get, although, James does have the ability to defend basically every position.
Let’s not forget about Jordan’s retirement that let the Houston Rockets get their two NBA championships in the mid 90’s. Who knows what else Jordan would have had if he hadn’t retired. Perhaps another championship, maybe another MVP or two.
There’s no doubt that with the rest of his career ahead of him, James could catch up to Jordan in a lot of these categories and is likely to surpass him in MVPs. But with Kevin Durant proving to be the league’s best scorer right now, it’s unlikely that James will come close to Jordan’s scoring titles. Plus, joining forces with Wade and Bosh just adds to the difficulty of matching Jordan’s amount of scoring titles.
All this leads me to think that LeBron shouldn’t even be compared to Jordan, but rather someone like Magic Johnson or Oscar Robertson. That’s not saying LeBron is more of an all-around player than Jordan, because their numbers are almost identical in per game stats.
LeBron is the youngest to score 20,000 points, but he isn’t the most clutch player of all time. He isn’t the best. That belongs to Jordan. And although time is on Lebron’s side in catching up to Jordan’s accolades, he’ll never be the scorer that Jordan was.
So let’s stop comparing James to Jordan and enjoy watching one of the best players in history right now, but not the best ever.