LeBron James, at this point in his career, is a better basketball player than Michael Jordan.
Debate Rounds (3)
James finally reached the playoffs in his third season after the team added a new coach in Mike Brown and complementary players Larry Hughes, Flip Murray and Donyell Marshall.Jordan entered the NBA after his junior season at North Carolina. The Bulls made the playoffs in his rookie season at age 21 despite a 38-44 record and Orlando Woolridge and Quintin Dailey being the team"s second and third offensive options.The next season, the Bulls got a rookie bruiser named Charles Oakley and a breakout season from Sidney Green, but went 30-52 because Jordan played just 18 games due to a broken foot. This was somehow good enough to reach the playoffs anyway, but the team was quickly swept by the Celtics despite Jordan averaging nearly 44 points per game.A Michael Jordan team did not clear .500 in the regular season until his fourth season in the league, 1987-1988, when Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant came aboard and Doug Collins was coach..So it could be argued that James" early seasons were more successful right away despite being younger, especially after the Cavs reached the NBA Finals in just his fourth season. James was just 22 at the time. After being ousted from the playoffs by the Detroit Pistons "Bad Boys" in three straight seasons, Chicago finally got over the hump and reached the Finals in 1990-1991, Jordan"s seventh season.After seven seasons, things appeared pretty even. James and Jordan both had just one Finals appearance each, with LeBron losing to Boston twice and Orlando once.In his eighth and ninth seasons, Jordan won two more NBA titles and Finals MVPs before announcing his first retirement. His 10th year was the truncated 1994-1995 season, during which he announced a comeback in March.After his seventh season, James left Cleveland for Miami and has reached the Finals in all three years, winning twice. Through 10 years, Jordan holds a 3-2 edge in championships and Finals MVPs. James has a 4-3 edge in Finals appearances and regular-season MVPs.The numbers for these two all-time greats are through Jordan"s age-31 year and James" age-28 year.
This debate really comes down to how you judge a great basketball player. Here's how I judge them, in importance of order:
2. Individual Stats
3. Team stats
4. Personal life
Lebron James excels at individual stats. He also is great with team stats. His personal life (as far as I know) is admirable. However, the number of titles that he has is an issue to me. But first, why are titles so important? Titles are important because titles bring big money. I often forget that the NBA is a business. Sure, it's entertaining, but the end goal of the NBA is to make money. Titles bring lots of money. They publicize the team, they sell jerseys and merchandise and they make a city famous for its sports. Just look at L.A., Chicago and Boston: These cities have experienced fame because their basketball teams are exceptional. In the end, I think we can both agree that titles are the most important thing for a team. Titles are also the most important thing to a player because having championship ring tells people that you worked hard for years to win the NBA finals. Now, coming back to this topic, it isn't the number of titles that Lebron has but how he got the titles that makes me negative in this debate. Lebron left Cleveland because he seemingly couldn't win a championship with the team. People said that he had "no supporting cast". This is half true. While the Cavaliers didn't have the best team, they were still able to go to the NBA finals. I'm sure that with more hard work, Lebron could have brought a title to cleveland. Instead, Lebron opted for the easy and somewhat cheesy route and decided to go to South Beach alongside a stacked team. Sure, Lebron has two titles and is bound to get more but he has those titles because he ditched Cleveland and took the easy route. What I'm saying is that his two titles weren't as hard earned as Kobe's or MJ's. That's my opinion. What Lebron didn't know is that he started a trend. As we know, Ray Allen wanted another title so he went to Miami to join Lebron and friends. Sure, he has another title but now all of Boston hates him. On the flip side, we both know that Kobe desperately wants another title but decided to stay with my Lakers and earn a championship the hard way. The last thing on my list is legacy. Lebron ditched Cleveland and abandoned the entire city. His example sent a chain reaction through the NBA. That reaction has already hit some players like Ray Allen. Lebron hasn't left a great legacy thus far in his career. He also took the easy route to get both of his titles. It is for those reasons that I say that at this point in his career, MJ was better than Lebron.
First, I lazily didn"t capitalize the B in LeBron because I was tired and figured that spellcheck would suffice. After posting my argument, I realized that I must have pushed the wrong button in spellcheck" My bad.
Here are the major points:
The supporting cast. Both players have had great teams: Jordan with the Bulls and LeBron with the Heat. I don"t see how this relates to the main topic. I was using this as an argument against the next point:
LeBron left Cleveland to chase a title in Miami.
This is where my primary argument is. LeBron was able to get his titles in Cleveland, so instead of trying his hardest to win he opted for the easy route. This is not how pro sports should be. As you know, the Lakers have been terrible this year. No matter what you blame, the Lakers probably don"t have a chance at the finals for a while. Enter Kobe. Kobe desperately wants a sixth ring to compete with Jordan. He only needs one more. Kobe could have chosen to sign with OKC, the Pacers, or any other team that offers a real chance at a title. But Kobe chose the Lakers. He chose the difficult option. That is what real athletes do: overcome the odds. LeBron didn"t do this. The impact of this argument is that many of LeBron"s statistics come from him going to a stacked team. That is why I chose negative: I believe that Jordan has earned his stats while LeBron took the easy route to achieve his successes.
As a quick note, most people think that Cleveland wasn"t a good enough team for LeBron to spend his career with. However, I think that if a team can make it to the finals (which is what Cleveland did) then that team can win a title.
One more thing: LeBron potentially killed a franchise.
I"m sure that you watch a lot of NBA so you know how bad Cleveland is. In fact, the city of Cleveland was polled and asked which team was the least favorite: They chose the Cavaliers. (Let"s remember that Cleveland also is home to he Browns. The fans chose the Browns over the Cavs!) It is likely that the Cavalier franchise might leave Cleveland and go to another city. Had LeBron chose to stay with Cleveland, I can assure you that there wouldn"t be talks of moving a franchise. These things will stay with LeBron forever. On the other hand, Jordan helped the Bulls become a world famous franchise.
For all these reasons, I believe that at this point in his career, Jordan was better than LeBron is today.
Pretty favorably. In only 10 more games than Bryant, he"s totaled 2,523 more points, 1,681 more rebounds, 1,930 more assists, 193 more steals and 191 more blocks.
The comparisons between the cumulative numbers Jordan racked up through his 29th birthday and those of James and Bryant aren"t fair " Kobe and LeBron turned pro straight out of high school, at age 18. Jordan, meanwhile, played three seasons in college at the University of North Carolina and didn"t make his NBA debut until age 20.
Jordan also played in just 18 games in his second season, missing most of the year with a broken foot. Bryant had never played in fewer than 65 games through his age-29 season, and James has never missed more than seven in one year.
Above is a slideshow highlighting the first nine seasons of each of these players. This slideshow clearly shows how MJ was a better player than James in his first nine seasons. Although it was decently close, Jordan is still the winner.
(Read that link!)
Thanks and this has been a fun debate!
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