Yesterday was the 50th birthday of NBA legend Michael Jordan. ESPN had constant coverage and career highlights leading up to Jordan’s big day, and the publicity surrounding the stars’50th birthday stirred a lot of questions in sports media.
Is LeBron James better than Michael Jordan? Is Kobe Bryant better than Michael Jordan?
Let me be clear when I say this: Nobody is better than Michael Jordan, and no one ever will be.
Jordan is the poster child of the NBA, a globally renowned superstar and arguably the greatest athlete our country has ever seen. People who don’t know or follow the game of basketball know who Michael Jordan is. That can’t be said about figureheads in other sports. No other professional athlete in American sports — except maybe Muhammad Ali — has left such an iconic imprint on our society. On top of that, his career achievements can’t be duplicated by another player.
His career is highlighted with six championship rings, six NBA finals MVP awards, and five regular season MVP awards. No other player in NBA history, including LeBron and Kobe, have this kind of hardware to show for their career. It’s not only impressive that he has won six championships, but how he won them is even more remarkable.
His first three rings came three years in a row in the ’91, ’92 and ’93 seasons. Then he left in his prime to play Major League Baseball for the Chicago White Sox. After his short-lived minor league baseball career, he came back to the NBA and won three more consecutive titles in ’96, ’97 and ’98, averaging 33.5 points per game in his NBA finals career.
Now that he is retired from play and is the current owner of the Charlotte Bobcat’s franchise, Jordan is still closely related to the association. Players in the league and fans all over the world wear his Jordan brand basketball shoes, clothing and accessories. Everywhere around the world, people are still trying to be like Mike.
Because of LeBron’s most recent stretch — scoring over 30 points per game, averaging at least 60 percent shooting from the field in six-straight games — there is speculation whether James is as good as Jordan. Kobe also received this hype, crowning of his fifth championship back in 2010. Because both Bryant and LeBron are great basketball players, undoubtedly the best two players in the league today, their achievements are often compared to and used in the same sentence as what Michael Jordan has accomplished. This has to stop.
Neither Kobe nor LeBron has six championship rings, six finals MVPs or five regular season MVPs. Neither player has been named to the All-NBA first team 10 times or the All-NBA defensive team nine times. Neither have won 10 scoring titles along with three steals titles. Neither has the record for highest career regular season scoring average. These are just some of the accolades Jordan received over the extent of his career. Nothing Kobe or LeBron do from this point forward in their careers will amount to what Jordan has already done for the sport.
Michael Jordan has left his mark not only on the NBA, but our entire world. Even today, at 50 years old, he’s still the greatest basketball player on the planet.