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Why LeBron Isn’t Yet Michael Jordan

Posted by on Jun 5, 2011

I’ll just state this up front; I’m pulling for the Miami Heat to beat the Dallas Mavericks in this year’s NBA championship. I’m doing so for quite a few reasons, but I’m going to withhold that for now because it’s not the topic of this rather quick post; at least it’s planned on being a quick post.

Last week Scottie Pippen, the Hall of Famer that won 6 championships with Michael Jordan and wouldn’t have won a single thing without him (or been in the Hall of Fame without him) came out with what was one of the most idiotic statements one player has ever said about another player, past or present. He stated that LeBron James now is a better player than Michael Jordan ever was, and history would back that statement up.

Now, it’s not a secret to many people that pay attention to professional basketball that Pippen has always felt like the odd man out. He’s always felt like he should have gotten equal acclaim to Jordan, kind of like Kobe Bryant felt when he was teamed with Shaquille O’Neal. The problem here is that Pippen wasn’t even Kobe. Pippen had his chance in two years to help his team win a championship, and instead one of those years he refused to go back into the game when it was on the line, jealous of another player on the team from Europe. Kobe went on to win championships without Shaq, proving his legacy.

So, if LeBron as good as Jordan was? Not even close. He’s very good, and no one can take that away from him, but come on, let’s be realistic. In their prime, if you put Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, who wasn’t a scorer, against LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, who do you think would win? Is there anyone who really believes a Michael Jordan-led team would have lost a basketball game they were 15 points up in with just over 5 minutes to play? Does anyone think that Michael Jordan would have stayed outside chucking up 3-pointers instead of driving the ball into the middle and at least getting fouled so his team would at least keep scoring some points to offset whatever the other team was doing?

LeBron James is good; really good. So is Dwayne Wade. Michael was good AND smart. Michael Jordan got better every single year; there were few players in history as mentally tough and talented as this guy. And I don’t even have him as my top NBA player of all time; that would go to Wilt Chamberlain, who was also my favorite basketball player of all time. It’s hard to compare people who played different positions like this, but Wilt made the NBA change rules; heck, Wilt made college basketball change rules. Wilt averaged more than 50 points a game one year; he averaged more than 25 rebounds a game one year. Wilt took teams without stars close to championship games; Bill Russell lead teams with stars to championships. But Wilt was the man.

Jordan was the second man. In essence, Jordan led his team to 6 championships in a row if we ignore the two years he went off to play basketball. Jordan made sure his team won when it counted. He knew he was talented, but he also knew he needed to be more. Even if LeBron helps his team win the championship this year, which I hope he does, he doesn’t knock Jordan off the pedestal. Not until he learns to take over when his team is reeling, get to the foul line and keep his team from collapsing down the stretch.

Enough said; okay, it wasn’t as short as I thought it might be. lol

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I’m looking forward to you telling us exactly why you’re rooting for the Heat. As far as I’m concerned, I want James to win and get this first championship out of the way, because if he doesn’t, Cleveland fans would have a whole year to rub his nose in it (and you know they will)…

June 6th, 2011 | 1:54 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Sonny, I’m not getting into the reason why I’m pulling for the Heat; at least not here. I was just calling out some fantasy based on, well, reality. lol

June 6th, 2011 | 4:19 PM

I think Chicago Bulls team was very strong, by team I mean, everybody used to be on its place. About Lebron, I don’t know personally I like him and he still can show much more. I also think that during the time Jordan was playing there were more good player in every team which made the game even more difficult and more interesting.

June 6th, 2011 | 3:21 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Carl, it gets hard to evaluate all talents across generations but one thing is easily clear. In his day Jordan was the most mentally tough guy you’d ever want to meet. And I’m a Magic Johnson fan but you just can’t take it away from Jordan. And any comparison to him and James just makes no sense at this point, especially if someone’s going to say he’s better than Jordan.

June 6th, 2011 | 4:22 PM

Sure, comparing different generations is nearly impossible. During the time Jordan was playing I was fan of Charles Barkley, but actually my favorite team was Orlando Magic. A couple of years after that I completely changed my preference and since then my favorite team is Dallas Mavericks.

June 7th, 2011 | 8:30 AM

Michael Jordan is Michael Jordan. He is the NBA’s most recognized face and name. LeBron is not that close to Jordan. Skill wise, he might, but leadership and mental capacity, too far, I think.

June 9th, 2011 | 1:46 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

That’s how I see it, Ron. Tuesday night was a great example, as once again Miami lost a nice lead late in the game and LeBron wasn’t on his game.

June 9th, 2011 | 8:23 AM

I am a witness of that break down. That is the reason why, LeBron is way too far compared to MJ. Leadership and that winning instinct is what really separates MJ to the other players.

June 9th, 2011 | 8:57 PM

It’s quite alright to compare current players to those of previous eras when describing their play or mannerisms on the court, especially for scouting or sportswriting purposes. In that regard James could be called, “Magic Jordan” in that his style of play seems like a melding of the two.

June 9th, 2011 | 3:19 AM

I must admit I don’t know a lot about basketball, but I do know Michael Jordan was HUGE. My husband watches a lot of basketball so I shared the article with him and he laughed at the statement of Lebron being better and said not a chance, so I must agree with him as he has more knowledge in this dept. than I do and say, no Lebron is not better.

June 9th, 2011 | 8:53 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Lynda, I love it! This wasn’t a hate on LeBron in any way, but a reality check, in my opinion.

June 9th, 2011 | 5:57 PM
John Cooper:

Lebron is bigger, stronger, a better rebounder, a and better passer than Mike. But lets make this clear, Lebron can not shoot as well as Mike and while he is a good defender, he is not a better defender than Mike was. Also, he does not have the killer instinct had, very few in the history game did. Lasty Mike would have cut his own throat before willing to leave the bulls to join magic on the lakers or Bird on the Celtics. Mike would rather lose to them than to join them, his competitiveness to be the best would not allowed him to join forces with people that thought they were on his level.

June 9th, 2011 | 4:34 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

John, I don’t hate on LeBron for leaving Cleveland; heck, I don’t hate on anyone for wanting to get out of Cleveland! lol I know, I know, cheap joke. However, I think the biggest thing you said is “killer instinct”. I think Tuesday night highlighted it to a degree; can you imagine Jordan giving up the ball as much as LeBron did if his team lost the lead, bad game or not? Jordan could have taken the ball to the rock and gotten fouled, over and over if he had to, getting fouled and making foul shots, instead of settling for jump shots. That doesn’t make LeBron a bad player; just not a “Jordan”.

June 9th, 2011 | 6:03 PM

John, i really loved what you said! I am not a LeBron hater as well, but I think, Michael Jordan is really far greater and really posses this great “killer-winning-instinct” compare to others.

June 9th, 2011 | 9:01 PM

I’m surprised you got through this entire post without mentioning Jabbar, one of the greatest ever. Chamberlain and Russell were superstars, but I’ve always enjoyed watching guys like Jordan and Dr. J — the ones who could do it all.

June 11th, 2011 | 9:46 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Charles, even Jabbar mentioned in his letter to Pippen that Chamberlain was the greatest scorer in history, as he scored his points in way fewer seasons. And I used Russell because he was the greatest winner in history. So, no slight there. As for Dr. J, he was fantastic, but in the NBA he only won one championship, though he was also the guy who created the “clear out for your best player” routine, that doesn’t work anymore since the NBA changed the rules a few years ago.

June 12th, 2011 | 1:58 AM

I almost took you on on your forecast but, precisely for the reasons you shared here, did not. But my hunch that the Mavericks will win has given me some extra pocket money here! The ten point lead however cost me some too. I bet on it being more than 20,

June 13th, 2011 | 2:51 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Rummuser, I didn’t even watch the 4th quarter because it just looked like no real effort or plan was fomenting from the Heat. For all the greatness that Scottie Pippen ascribed to James, he was almost nonexistent in these finals as far as a “superstar” is concerned. How many greats in history would have disappeared like this?

June 13th, 2011 | 8:40 AM

I’m so sick of this stupid argument! HE WILL NEVER BE MJ… EVERRRRRR.

June 13th, 2011 | 1:42 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

And he proved that, Pete.

June 13th, 2011 | 11:29 PM

Yeah, LeBron ain’t Michael Jordan yet. But if he can get many success seasons with Heats right now, he could be a legend in Heats. There won’t be another Jordan. Jordan is a very special player like other NBA legend. So I think it will be more fair if we said that LeBron would definitely be another NBA legend.

June 14th, 2011 | 12:05 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

I’ll go along with this, Andrew. If he becomes a major winner, he’ll just be LeBron, and not Jordan.

June 14th, 2011 | 12:40 AM