Some might say that the golden days of the NBA have passed us by. The nostalgia for the 80s and 90s teams runs strong in the veins, even of players who are not old enough to have watched any of those games at the time they were played. In particular, nostalgic basketball fans say things like “They don’t make ’em like they used to” in reference to players like Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
Playing the NBA odds is a different thing today than it was when giants like Jordan and James stalked the hardwood courts. Players of such a high caliber were true sporting predators who took no prisoners. They were lethal in their day, and it sent shivers down the spines of opposing players when they realized that they would be coming up against two of the most talented and disciplined players ever to grace the court. One question has dominated the minds of basketball fans ever since these two legends first set foot onto a squeaky wooden floor: who is the better player?
Jordan or James?
Some might argue that comparing players is impossible, like comparing apples and oranges. Others might argue that statistics are the only way to truly compare two different sportspeople and that if one has better stats over the course of a career than the other, that makes them undeniably the better player. We think that the definition of a “better” player lies somewhere between these two points of view. There are score counts and statistics to consider, but there’s also something special and unique that each player brings to the game: it’s ephemeral and can’t be measured by any traditional standards. For the purposes of comparison, we’re going to look at the differences and similarities between Michael Jordan and LeBron James in both these areas: statistics and their own special energy.
Michael Jordan’s career spanned 15 seasons for the Bulls and the Wizards. He averaged a whopping 30.1 points, 5.3 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals in 1,072 regular-season games. Jordan was given the high honor of playing in 14 All-Star games over the years. He has won a number of awards over the course of his glittering career: the Rookie of the Year award, 1 Defensive Player of the Year award, 5 MVP awards, 6 Finals MVP awards and 6 NBA championships. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, and we doubt that his legend and legacy will ever truly fade from the minds of fans.
Few basketball stars have had such a lasting effect and impact on the public consciousness outside of the sport of basketball as Michael Jordan has. Jordan’s skills were beyond reproach or dispute, it’s true, but it was his personality that landed him a role in Space Jam. The film went on to become a Disney classic and a favorite among millennials all over the world, making more kids than ever want to “be like Mike.”
Widely considered to be one of the best players of all time, Michael Jordan was special for a number of reasons. It’s incredible to see an athlete really excel at one area of his sport, but seeing an all-rounder like Jordan come through the NBA only happens a few times in a sport’s history.
LeBron James’s career has lasted for five seasons longer than Michael Jordan’s so far. He has played a full 20 seasons for the Heat, Cavaliers and Lakers. His averages have been 7.5 rebounds, 27.2 points and 7.3 assists in 1,413 regular-season games. Like Jordan, he was chosen to play in a number of All-Star games: 18, to be exact. He has received the Rookie of the Year award, won 4 NBA championships, 4 MVP awards and 4 Finals MVP awards. Unlike Jordan, LeBron James is still playing basketball today. He was a prodigy even as a young man playing basketball in his high school gym. When the Cleveland Cavaliers chose him in the draft in 2003, it was hardly a surprise that he was chosen first overall. Since then, James has made a name for himself as one of the best players in the current NBA rankings. Not only is James a lethal NBA player, but he has also made it onto two Olympic basketball teams and currently has one bronze and one gold Olympic medal to his name.
Though he is still a relatively young player, James is known worldwide for his unbelievable strength and agility. He remains to this day the only player in NBA history to have made it into the top 100 rankings for assists, points, blocks, three-pointers, steals and rebounds.
So, who is better? We don’t have a conclusive answer to that question, and we don’t know if we ever will. Aside from the fact that LeBron may still have a long career ahead of him, we find it impossible to compare two players as different and skilled as Jordan and James. You’ll have to answer this one for yourselves!