Jordan vs LeBron Who is the Real G.O.A.T.?

Drake Drymond, Head Editor

Michael Jordan. LeBron James. These 2 names are undoubtedly etched in NBA lore forever, but one question still remains: Who is the greatest basketball player of all time. I will break down each side of the argument and how they compare.

The case for Jordan.- Michael Jordan won 6 titles in a span of 8 years. He won finals MVP each time and never lost a finals series. The 5 time regular season MVP and 14 time All-Star rose to stardom in the 80’s, and was the biggest name in Basketball in the 90’s. He helped globalize the NBA and increased its popularity domestically as well. For his career he averaged 30 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. His best season was a toss up between his 4th season in which he averaged 35 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists to go along with 3 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. For his efforts he was selected to the 1st Team All-NBA was an All-Star, and led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The other year that stands out is his 1995-96 season. That year, he averaged a clean 30 points, 4 assists, and 7 rebounds in addition to 3 steals and 1 block per game. He led the Bulls to a then record 72-10 record in the regular season, and won his 4th NBA title on his way to yet another 3-peat. He was named to the All-Star team, and was awarded MVP. Overall, Jordan has been remembered as a legendary scorer (he’s currently 5th all time in points scored) in a time when the league was played at a slower pace with less possessions, and before the 3-point shot took over the league. He is heralded as a great competitor, with a drive to win that is unparalleled.

The case for LeBron.- LeBron James has won 3 titles while going to 8 straight finals with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. He is a 3 time Finals MVP, and 4 time regular season MVP. He has been selected to 15 All-Star games, and has been a driving force in empowering player mobility. Prior to him most players never left their original team unless the organization traded them. LeBron has since tipped the scales in favor of the players. His best season is likely his 2012-13 season in which he averaged 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists and led the Heat to their second straight title. He was awarded his 2nd straight MVP and was selected 1st Team All-NBA. James is without a doubt one of if not the most versatile players of all time, acting as a point-forward able to play any position 1-4. Lately he’s been essentially playing point guard and has been among the NBA’s leaders in assists. For his career he sits 3rd all time in points scored, and 8th all time in assists. In the midst of his 17th NBA season LeBron has enjoyed great longevity, and still has an opportunity to add to his legacy.

How do they compare?- When compared side by side it appears simple enough. Jordan was the better scorer, defender, and leader. LeBron is the better passer, rebounder, and is far more versatile. Additionally, in terms of off the court impact, fewer players have had as big an impact as LeBron. With these factors taken into account, basketball fans across the country have disputed who is greater. However one factor makes the difference between the 2. That difference is the overall dominance of Michael Jordan. Over the course of his career Jordan eliminated 20 players who made it into the hall of fame. Throughout the 90’s with the exception of the 2 years he was out of basketball he kept the likes of Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone and others from winning titles. He is the sole reason that many greats from his era don’t have a championship on their resume. However, with LeBron; other greats of his era have won championships. Those include the Mavericks in 2011, the Spurs in 2014 and most recently; the Warriors in 2015, 2017, and 2018. While the typical argument for Jordan over LeBron is that Jordan went 6 for 6 in the finals while LeBron is a mere 3 for 9. But I believe that it goes deeper than that. It’s the fact that in the biggest moments on the biggest stage, no player was greater than Jordan. In addition to winning each finals he appeared in, he won Finals MVP each time. Lebron has unfortunately lost on the biggest stage, and the MVP of those series has been a player that plays the same position as him. Kawhi Leonard in 2014, Andre Iguodala in 2015, and Kevin Durant in 2017, and 2018 each got the best of LeBron regardless of whatever numbers he put up. Ultimately his team lost and his direct opposition on the other team was awarded with besting him. The fact that this never was the case with Jordan is what puts Michael Jordan over LeBron James and supplants him as the greatest of all time.