The division between generations in America’s most popular court sport is becoming progressively more apparent; Michael Jordan last played in the NBA ten years ago, and a new generation of athletes now dominate the NBA’s landscape.
While there are a few players like Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan who still carry the torch from yester era, it is clear that LeBron James now dominates the game. This is something that is undeniable, regardless of whether you view James as a heroic icon or an anathema.
But, the purpose of this article is not to antagonize the already massive legions of LeBron haters and LeBron admirers. Instead, this article is meant to discuss one question: who is the better basketball player, LeBron or Jordan?
There will be two aspects discussed: championships and athletic ability. Both of which will be assessed equally. Ultimately, the better player will be crowned. Hence, it will finally put an end to an elongated debate between the legions of basketball fans.
First of all, the subject of championships needs to be assessed. Jordan won his first title with the Chicago Bulls in 1991—he was 28 years old during the first of many Windy City triumphs.
In contrast, LeBron’s impatience for a ring was well documented, as it was an important deciding factor when he chose to depart from the Cleveland Cavaliers and join the Miami Heat. But, the truth is that LeBron and Jordan were around the same age when they both respectively won their first championships.
However, what puts Jordan ahead in the championship category is that he was undefeated in the Finals. In contrast, LeBron had two failed trips to the Finals before successfully besting the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012. Moreover, LeBron’s performances in playoffs prior to his maturation were something that can be simply described as insufficient.
Secondly, both basketball players in question are phenomenal athletes. But, which player displays a more astounding amount of physical prowess? James is a 6’8, 250 pound mesomorph with enough strength, power, and explosiveness to be a premier tight end in the NFL. Truly, a player of James’ body type is seldom seen in the NBA. Moreover, James is a player who—due to his remarkable physique—can play both the power forward and the point guard positions.
Jordan–a player who was 6’6 and just below 200 pounds during his play days—lacked the raw physical strength that James possesses. But, it is worth noting that Jordan had the highest vertical leap ever recorded in the NBA—one that stands at a remarkable 48 inches.
Moreover, Jordan’s lesser amount of strength can be seen as something of an advantage—a way in which Jordan maximized his skillset. While James passing and shooting ability are both colossal, Jordan possessed a finesse that the powerful LeBron simply does not have. Moreover, while Jordan was certainly guilty of performing non-penalized travels, LeBron—along with the rest of the contemporary association—is guilty of travelling to ludicrous extents. Often, James relies on his massive power to run opposing players over as he attempts to reach the basket.
It is clear that both players have athletic traits that are unprecedented. And, as such, a draw must be declared. Simply due to the fact that they possess remarkable but different traits that are hard to compare.
Who is the better player? Well, this is truly a hard question to answer because it is a poor question at its genesis; James and Jordan are two different players who are associated with different times periods. There are too many discrepancies between their eras to truly give an accurate comparison.
It is true that James will never have an immaculate Finals record. And, it is true that Jordan never possessed a massive 250-pound frame. The comparison between eras is almost impossible—when Jordan was playing, there was little comparison between him and Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Likewise, there shouldn’t be such a monumental comparison between the two athletes of subject.
Jordan was unquestionably inducted into the Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA—a place where LeBron will join Jordan once his playing career comes to a close. Both players are great, and there is little purpose to the process of needless comparison.