Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 9/26/13
How good would the Miami Heat be without LeBron James? He’s the greatest in the world and arguably one of the best players of all time. It’s a bold statement saying he’s one of the greatest of all time considering players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson once dominated the hardwood, but statistics don’t lie. What else does James have to do to become the greatest of all time? Of course, he has to win more rings. That’s the only thing that stops people from giving LeBron the credit he deserves. He is one of the most versatile players to ever play the game. If LeBron reminded you of a player who played in the 80’s and 90’s, who comes to mind? Magic Johnson is the name that comes to mine. Johnson was a great player during his time. He was tall, quick, and could play multiple positions. Who would you take in a 1 on 1 matchup, LeBron or Magic? Who do you think was a better defender? Overall who is the better player? Statistically it is very close, so let me break it down for you. Magic has five NBA championships and LeBron has two. One thing I don’t like about the “having more rings argument” is, just because a player has more rings doesn’t mean they’re the better player. If this theory is true, then Robert Horry is a better player than LeBron James because he has more rings. Yes, Horry was a good player, and had clutch moments, but just because he has more rings than LeBron doesn’t mean he’s better. Stop looking at the rings and start looking at the stats. As far as season MVP’s, LeBron has four to Magic’s three. Magic played 13 seasons and LeBron has played 10. For finals MVPs, Magic has three and LeBron has two. What’s interesting about Magic’s first finals MVP is that he was a rookie. After center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was sidelined in Game 6 with a sprained ankle, the 6-foot-9 Johnson was plugged in as center. Johnson scored 42 points (14-for-23 from the field, 14-for-14 from the foul line), to go along with 15 rebounds, seven assists and three steals as the Lakers won the title with a 123-107 victory. Johnson is the only rookie to win the NBA Finals MVP award and won NCAA and NBA titles in consecutive seasons. This shows how versatile Magic Johnson was. He was a point guard most of the time but could go down in the block and still be dominant. LeBron can do the same thing though. He can drain threes, then go to the block and use his 6-8 frame and insane vertical leap to embarrass some of the best defenders in the league. James has earned all-defensive team five times, something Magic never accomplished. James has won the scoring title, another feat Magic never got done. James also won rookie of the year and Magic didn’t due to Larry Bird winning it that year (not a bad rookie class huh?). Magic does have LeBron beat on assists: he was the assist leader four times. Johnson also has James beat on the steals list, winning two of those titles compared to James winning none. So who is better, Magic or LeBron? Magic is a Hall of Famer and LeBron will be one once he is done playing. In comparison, they both are very close in stats. LeBron is a lot like Magic and some may argue he’s on Michael Jordan’s level (we’ll get to that). What’s crazy is LeBron still has a couple more years to play. He’s been in the league for awhile but he’s just entering his prime and isn’t even 30 yet. With James going for a 3-peat this season and another MVP title, he’ll be above Magic in my opinion, even if he only has 3 rings. LeBron is a phenomenal player and has been proving that the past 3 seasons. He gets criticized for leaving Cleveland and joining Miami but the way the league is now, I don’t blame him. If a player isn’t surrounded by other All-Star caliber players, they most likely won’t win a NBA championship. That’s the difference in Magic’s time in the league, and LeBron’s time now. I believe it’s more impressive, what LeBron is doing now compared to what Magic did and what’s so exciting is, LeBron isn’t done yet. He is just getting started. Another player I believe LeBron is similar to is Michael Jordan. If I were to ask America who they think the greatest player of all-time in the NBA is, I bet 99.99 percent would easily say Michael Jordan. I agree that Jordan is the greatest. Most people put Kobe Bryant behind Jordan, and I respect that due to Kobe and his success along with his five championships. I’m a firm believer that LeBron will pass Kobe and will either come close to or pass Jordan with championships. LeBron joined Jordan as the only two players to ever win a Finals MVP, Olympic Gold Medal, NBA championship, and regular season MVP all in the same year, putting those two in a class of their own. What sets Jordan apart from LeBron and Magic? One big thing is his 6 NBA championships and the way he won them. He won 3 straight, retired, then came back and won 3 straight again. That is incredible and he’ll be the only player to do it that way. People say LeBron will never be better than Jordan because he won’t win more than six rings, but statistically, LeBron is on track to be better than Jordan. LeBron has four MVP’s, two NBA titles, and two finals MVP’s. With LeBron only being 28, in comparison to Jordan when he was 28, he’s ahead. Jordan only had two MVP’s, one NBA title, and one finals MVP when he was 28. So can LeBron win four more titles or even five? That would be very difficult to do but it’s possible. Another thing that hurts LeBron in this comparison is he has been to the finals four times and has only won two out of the four. He would be in a better position if he had four and it would look better for him to surpass Jordan. One big advantage that Jordan had over LeBron was he spent three years playing for North Carolina in college under the great Dean Smith where he matured as a player, compared to LeBron entering the league straight from high school. Jordan had a better share of coaches that could help him reach his full potential, especially coaches like Smith and Phil Jackson. It’s obvious that LeBron idolized Jordan considering he was number 23 in high school and at the beginning of his NBA career. What kid from the 80’s and 90′s wouldn’t want to be like Mike? LeBron wanted to be like Mike and he’s starting to be a bit like him, but he never will be the same player. What I mean is that LeBron is a different type of player. He’s bigger than Jordan, stronger, faster, and I think he’s just an overall better athlete. James is a freak of nature. He’s basically a modern day Jordan but bigger. He doesn’t have the shot that Jordan had but he’s developed a shooting game that should be respected as he proved he can shoot during the finals this year when the Spurs gave him too much space. Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated Another argument on why LeBron will never be better than Jordan is critics say LeBron had more help. It’s funny how Jordan fanatics  forget that Jordan failed to make the Finals with mediocre players like Dave Corzine, Gene Banks, and Brad Sellers, but continuously judge James because he couldn’t win with the Cavs, and ignore how Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Larry Hughes, and Mo Williams were not solid enough to help LeBron win a ring in Cleveland. When Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, and B.J. Armstrong joined Jordan, the Bulls were complete and he had the help to win several rings. I’m not saying those guys are better than Wade and Bosh, which in some ways they’re, but Jordan had help too so people should remember that. LeBron may never be better than Jordan. He may never win another championship. His legacy may end now. You never know with today’s league. Injuries can end a player’s career, cognitive doubts could end his desire, critics could kill his passion, but in the end, a player’s greatness should not be measured by just championships. LeBron James, either way, has left his mark on the game, even if he only wins two Championships and four  MVPs. He can’t do it like Jordan, but one day people will be saying that someone did it like LeBron.  
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