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Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 11/20/14

Via Larry Brown Sports:

LeBron James is the reigning NBA MVP and NBA Finals MVP and considered by many to be the top player in the league. He has dominated this month and became the first player in league history to score at least 30 points on over 60 percent shooting in six straight games. Though James is playing outstanding ball, Michael Jordan thinks he has found a flaw in the Heat star’s game.

ESPN’s Wright Thompson wrote an excellent piece about Jordan ahead of the Hall of Famer’s 50th birthday on Sunday. The lengthy piece discusses MJ dealing with aging and harnessing his competitive drive. Jordan discusses how some of the current players would have fared when he played, and he said LeBron, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Dirk Nowitzki would have done well. He also analyzed a part of James’ game while watching the Heat play the Jazz in Utah Jan. 14. According to Jordan, LeBron has a tendency to shoot jumpshots when forced left, and he drives to the hoop when he goes right.

“I study him,” he says.

When LeBron goes right, he usually drives; when he goes left, he usually shoots a jumper. It has to do with his mechanics and how he loads the ball for release. “So if I have to guard him,” Jordan says, “I’m gonna push him left so nine times out of 10, he’s gonna shoot a jump shot. If he goes right, he’s going to the hole and I can’t stop him. So I ain’t letting him go right.”

Business Insider shares visual evidence that seems to support MJ’s theory. This shot chart comes via NBA.com:

Based on that chart, James has taken 235 shots from the left side of the court, and 159 from the right side. Anything near the basket or straight ahead was not counted. While this chart doesn’t tell the full story — James could be on the right side of his court, go left, and shoot, and it would count as a jumper for the right side in these stats — but this still gives us a good idea of James’ tendency.

LeBron also shoots 44 percent on shots from the right side compared to 40 percent from the left. If MJ has this data, so should the rest of the league. I think I’ve even heard Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers mention it in the past. But even with this knowledge, James is still the toughest player in the league to defend. Something tells me MJ would have a hard time defending him anyhow. I wonder if this has anything to do with why MJ says he would take Kobe over LeBron.

H/T Business Insider

82 Comments:
  • MJ TIME WAS IN THE 80'S HE WAS THE GREASTEST! THEN THERE WAS KOBE IN THE 90'S & NOW IT'S LEBRON'S TURN & IN TIME SOMEONE ELSE WILL STEP UP TO THE PLATE! SO EACH MAN IS GREAT IN HIS TIME. SO QUIT COMPAIRING. THEIR ALL GREAT! AND WILL HAVE A PLACE IN THE HALL OF FAME!!!
  • MJ basically won all of his titles in the 1990's(in the 80's he couldn't beat the pPistons, he needed the weaker version of the NBA that emerged in the 1990's to get over the top) Kobe won all of his in the 2000's. Maybe you should actually watch the NBA before commenting?
  • "weaker version of the NBA"?? Yeah, those Knicks and Heat teams of the 90's the Bulls had to go through every year were soft. And those Pacer teams were pushovers also. Pointing out the facts can be quite meddlesome to one's arguments, can't it?
  • hey unc.... gotta disagree there pal.... back in jordan's day.. every team had at least one player that was mentally(as well as physically)very tough...in today's game you may be lucky to find 1 in each division that exhibits those traits... that's why i say james will never be at jordan's level... he mental toughness is rarely challenged... and when it is, he seems to pass the ball or not take the crucial shot... jordan's attitude was that he wanted the ball.. especially during crunch time
  • Mj's time as in the90's, not the 80's, so get with it.
  • Michael Jordan was apart of 6 NBA Championships. . Chicago Bulls - 1991,1992,1993,1996,1997,1998
  • Jordan will always be the best, his time wasn't the 80's, all his championships were 90's;: 91, 92, 93, 96, 97, 98. So how was his time in the 80's? As for Kobe, he may be the closest anyone would ever get to Jordan(Kobe's era was more 2000's), but not even close. MJ redefined the entire game, Kobe was a mini MJ, same style same moves. LeBron is not even close to Kobe and never will be he's a giant he doesn't have moves, he's not that great of a shooter or passer. All he he's good at is driving and dunking, no comparison. All Hall of Fame? Yes. All equal? No!
  • I agree with you about LeBron. But about Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan didn't change the NBA.The NBA Gatorade and Nike created the Michael Jordan we know today. it changed the rules. You could not even touch Michael Jordan after they started winning championships. If you would check the records Michael Jordan scores 17 to 20 points each games from the free throw line do to file calls mostly bogus by the referee. The NBA allowed this because all of the money in NBA promotion was behind Michael Jordan. Now they're doing it with LeBron James
  • LeBron James is a big ox and shoves his way thru to score while leaning causing contact to get foul shots.
    He has no class on the court .
  • You are an idiot!
  • you must be sleeping with him
  • Michael urned into a no class jerk who skips out on his cold debts and is a ridiculously terrible tipper to waitresses and caddies. He was a great player and brought us some thrills but we have no use for him anymore. He can disappear and none will care.
  • You too are an idiot!!
  • He's just telling the truth and it is the reason that Jordan while still a great money machine is not exactly beloved by the fans. As big as he was, it is amazing how irrelevant he has become in the public mind. But then again, one of the reasons he was so vanilla(publicly off the court) all those years is because the guy really isn't very interesting.
  • Jordan expert. Mr Uncle Stosh. C'mon Uncle tell us all the old Jordan stories since you know the man so well.
  • MJ is the best NBA player of ALLTIME, no one denies that, but then again it's true...he is a cheapskate A$$h@L3 & womanizer with a polluted view of everyone else in this world. Anyone who's been around him for any length of time, especially in Florida, can give you first hand accounts of his "TRUE" colors & personality....@ Jackii, know what your saying before you comment or ridicule anyone else with you FALSE information!!! He may be the greatest NBA player of "All-Time" but he's not the greatest human-being ever....more like a priviledged spoiled narcissistic *******!!! Park his car, wait on him, be his caddie, watch him around women....especially a woman you know then you'll see what I'm saying. He's not a nice guy....PERIOD!!!
  • don't just say it tell me what makes Jordan the best. What makes them better than Wilt Chamberlain. And if we're just talking about guards honestly tell me what makes any guard better than Pistol Pete Maravich ahh. no one wants to talk about these type of places do that. If the media was in the 60's and 70's the way it is now we wouldwould still be talking about Dr. J
  • Quote: "Jordan says, “I’m gonna push him left so nine times out of 10, he’s gonna shoot a jump shot. If he goes right, he’s going to the hole and I can’t stop him. So I ain’t letting him go right.”

    MJ finds a flaw in LeBron's game YET he says in the same breath that he can't stop him if he goes right and if he goes left, he NEVER SAID that he can stop LeBron going left BUT only hopes more times than not that LeBron when he forces him to his left, doesn't drive to the basket but instead takes a jump shot and miss.

    In other words, Michael Jordan, the greatest to ever play the game of professonal basketball and one of the best defenders in his prime playing/guarding against LeBron James currently, can't stop LeBron James.

    MJ's playing weight: 6-6, 195.

    LeBron's playing weight: 6-8, 270.

    A difference of 75 pounds. So exactly who is going to be pushing who to where he wants him to go?

    MJ studies no other player.

    I smell the fear of footsteps in MJ's words of LeBron James catching up or surpassing him with MVP's and NBA championships that will replace the greatest ever Michael Jordan.

    And why does MJ study Lebron James?

    Because MJ's eyes can't fool him and he knows in his heart that LeBron James at this stage of his career, is a better all around athlete and better all around player that he was.

    No other player ever threatened the accomplishments of MJ and no one has ever challenged his legacy ads the world's best until now and MJ knows it.

    As the old saying goes, no matter how good you are or think you may be, there is ALWAYS someone out there better than you......MJ is now with a front row seat watching and witnessing that someone.
  • The average height of a guard in MJ's era was 6'1" now Wade (6'5") looks small lots of times. MJ would be a undersized SF now since he doesn't pass and is not fast enough to be a PG so he would get a lot of pine time now.
  • You are an idiot!
  • are you in love with micheal?
  • wellll yeah he's not fast enough.....he's 50 yrs old!!!
  • So he either plays PG or SF not Shooting Guard the position he actually played? The average NBA guard was not 6'1" in 1990's. A typical NBA 2-guard has been around 6'5" for 25 years. Jordan physically would still be a prototype 2 guard at 6'5" and 225 lbs(he may have been 190 as a rookie in '85 but he played at 225 for his entire prime). One year, when people said he was one dimensional, he played PG in the playoffs and averaged a Triple double. He was such a good defender on the ball that even at 6'5", when the Olympic team or the Bulls needed a lightning quick PG to be shut down from driving into the lane, they put Michael on him. That is how he got the nickname, "The Glove". Also, some said Magic Johnson would get killed at PG because he was slow and 6'9", How did that work out? It is a stupid point that is invalid in the NBA. Plenty of 6'5" PG's(How'd it work out for Jason Kidd who was half as quick as Jordan?) guarding 5'10" junebugs all of the time in the NBA. You know nothing about the sport, go hide in embarrassment.
  • While I agree with everything you said, you made one fatal flaw. MJ's nickname was NOT "The Glove". That nickname belongs to Gary Payton. Surprised no one else on here caught that. Kinda sullies most everything you say when making an error like that. And you probably shouldn't tell someone that they know nothing about the sport and should hide in embarrassment when you don't even know the greatest player in NBA history's nickname. Here's a hint: It's Michael "Air" Jordan. Maybe you should go hide in embarrassment. I almost did it for you when I read your comments.
  • Next time you give a history lesson, get your facts straight. "The Glove" was Gary Payton, not Jordan.
  • I'm a big time Jordan fan but I never heard or called him the glove that nickname the Glove was Gary Payton. Also Jordan played at at around 207-215lbs. I remember reading that he played at 217lbs 1 year and did not have lift in his legs so he went down 10lbs to get that lift back.
  • Dear Uncle, please keep all comments and opinions to yourself until you get your facts straight, Please pull away from the keyboard before you insert foot further into mouth.
  • Average of a guard was 6'1 wow where did you get that information from 6'1 was considered short in the NBA back then just like it is now and Jordan was a shooting guard not a SF. When Jordan played hand checking was allowed and the game was a lot more physical Jordan would average 40 if he played in todays NBA of no hand checks or hard fouls.
  • Other than me acknowledging your idiocy, there is no reason anyone should waste their time reading your comments. A lot of pine time. Hilarious. And really sad if it wasn't so hilarious.
  • You are a genious!
  • How ironic.... the one calling people idiots apparently can't spell.
  • 6 times NBA champion and if he would have never went to baseball could have been 7 in one decade. Whoever thinks that Jordan is not the best ever should get the enemas early and have their doc pull their foot out.
    Jordan would have spanked Lebron like everyone else. NO DOUBT!!!
  • Bill Russell had 10 rings in 11 years....and others have more than Jordan. So much for that theory. MJ was great in his time, but there is no way to say who is the greatest
  • I think Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant (later Rodman) would like to point out that they had a little hand in Jordan's championship too. Jordan would not be a 6 time NBA champion without them. It's stupid to use championships as a measuring stick for a player's individual greatness, because there's no universe where Luc Longley is a "greater" player than Wilt Chamberlain.
  • let me help you out a little........ positioning, spacing and footwork and any decent defender can control an offensive player..oh by the way.... better get your smeller checked
  • Michael Jordan played at 225 lbs the majority of his career.
  • Mj wouldn't d up on lebron, that would be rodman's/pippens job (it is a team sport). Not sure how lebron would handle rodman. It's a "now" world, and lebron is now, so of course everyone wants to crown him best ever---but I think mj, magic and bird would score at will in todays nba---it's so soft it's not even worth watching. Of course they couldn't play their style of d.
  • if it wasn't for the Colorado incident Kobe Bryant with far long ago surpass Michael Jordan with Mvps and championships.
  • Michael Jordan has no business giving his opinion on anyone. While he may have been the best basketball has ever seen, he
    betrayed the players during the NBA lockout. Michael Jordan forgot where he came from. We the fans made Michael Jordan what he is today. He betrayed the young players of today who looked at him as someone who would stand by them. Shame on him. I no longer have any respect for Michael Jordan. It's no wonder his team sucks.
  • You too are an idiot!!
  • he gave his opinion becaussssssssssseeeeeeee. he was being interviewed!!!.. he didn't call a press conference....he was asked his opinion and he gave it.. what was he supposed to do.. say "let me check with beth 123 and i'll get back with you"
  • Jordan was not the best of all time. Period. There were so many other great players. There is no way to compare them
  • Michael's time was the 90's, Kobe's was 2000-2010, Now is Lebron's .
    Most right handed players do exactly what ordon says Lebron does and most left handers do the exact oposite. What's new .
    He is still the best player now.
  • Correct.
  • shut up
  • Just not best player of all time which with no doubt, Jordan is!
  • Michael,grab a drink light a cigar and shut it!! You pushed,traveled,and walked on almost every possession.. Lebron is twice the player and 3 times the man you are or will ever be!!
  • And you are an idiot!!
  • Only idiots keep saying this
  • james doesn't have the competitive drive or killer instinct of jordan.... (or d wade or kobe for that matter)...if he expects to cement a legacy of greatness he better become mentally tough
  • And I'm sure you watched Jordan play kid. Whatever!
  • OnionG...MJ isn't scared of Lebron surpassing him. MJ is a student of the game and wasn't the best just because of his athletic abilities but his basketball IQ also. Most coaches study the top players are they also scared? Lebron has one ring! If he has 3 0r 4 then this would be a topic, right now, please.
  • You are a genious!
  • Just because someone agrees with you they are a genius.. If not they are an idiot. You know what that makes you? Yup...an idiot!
  • No...Jordan is worried about his perceived legacy. Truth is for seven years he couldn't win...until Pippen and others came along and made his team great. There is no reason for him to study other players now. He is afraid he will lose the " greatest " title that the media has given him. There is no greatest. Times change. In 10 years he will be an afterthought to the new fans, just as Bill Russell, Larry Burd, Magic Johnson, and so many other greatest players have become .
  • Just like Lebron couldn't win until he went to Miami with D-Wade and Bosh. One man can't win it all for you. You need those other building blocks around that great player to win a championship.
  • MJ was NOT the greatest. If you go by his accord and just take championships he is no where close. 11 (russell) is more than 6. Robert Horry has 7 with 3 different teams. Either way Jordan has proven time and time that he couldn't pick talent if he was paid. Oh wait he was paid to and screwed up every pick.
  • You are right about the talent picking. Otherwise, you are an idiot!
  • great players rarely make great coaches, managers or g.m.'s.... i can name hall of famers in baseball, basketball and football that were terrible at those crafts... doesn't take a thing away from their playing careers
  • ??? And your point is on his picks compared to him not having as many championships? Duuhhhhhh.... Waterboy Durrrrrrrrr....
  • LB doesn't have as the push off move MJ used so frequently. Nor does he get the Superstar callsfrom the officials that MJ got, nor is he playing with 3 Hall of Famers and the best coach of all time.
  • Idiot!
  • No, Lebron just runs over you and never gets the charging call he deserves. As for HOFer's Wade will likely be there so will Bosh. Lebron has not fouled out in about five years and has several games this year without a foul now who is getting superstar calls
  • I don't watch the NBA to many blacks trying to out shine one another, slam dunks and looking for style points. Big sweaty animals.
  • Racist idiot!!
  • Like some of the other comments. I never compare past players in any sport with current competitiors. It's impossible to make any realistic assessement comparative.

    If any of the players from the past were playing now, everything from their strength and fundamental training, experience, and exposure would be altered and diffferent. These are such great likely variables, no comparison makes any sense beyond a thought of "What if or nothing more than Imagination."

    That was Then. This is Now.

    What MJ is doing, is what every player & coach(es) should do even w/o being prompted to do so before that's even pointed out for them the same as in a pick-up game, in the areas of noticing things that one can attempt to exploit, force a player to change or get a player off balance, force a player to do something that's uncharacteristic of his or her strength(s) or is his or hers noticeable habit(s, to be better prepared and reactive to another players habits, tendencies,and possible weaknesses worthy of strategic countering defensively or offensively. It's a case of thinking, planning, and countering an opponent.

    Observations skills can teach a defensive player how to better play D on a player such as James, the same as lesson tht can be learned on the other end of the floor, and that will vary in some ways when it comes to other players. That just makes sense to do in the game now and always. Retrospective ideas are okay, and are not necessarily an attack or cut on a current player in a Scciety where opinions are always expected.
  • You don't write very well, but you have a lot to say. You are a genious!
  • Im confused? Jordon's he owns sucks right? Ok why does he studie Lebron? Should he not put the 110 percent he is famous for. Towards his team?
  • OK so here's how it happens with Jordan guarding LeBron: Jordan overplays him on the right side to prevent him from driving right. LeBron no longer goes left and takes a jump shot...he now goes left straight to the basket for a dunk. You can't overplay someone as good as LeBron. You play him straight up and that's all you can do........ unfortunately it won't be enough.
  • wellllllllll i'd really like to agree with you but then.. we'd both be wrong
  • I love how everyone that gives an opinion, thinks they know something about basketball. Someone said MJ won his titles during a weaker NBA..Really? Shaq(Orlando)in his prime..Olajawan,Ewing, come on.Then you say he travels all the time..Watch a game before you talk..Lebron runs through players and everyone in the game travels, especially the stars..Mj was on the NBA all defensive team, at least 5 times, so I would think he would know how to defend Lebron, and if you know anything about basketball, a great defender has the advantage of pushing a offensive player to whatever side he wants with good positioning. They asked his opinion, that's his opnion. He didn't say he could stop him, he said he would push him left and hope 9 out of 10 time he would pull up...and you have to ask, what is Lebron going to do when MJ gets the ball?
  • i'm going to say it before jackii does.... you are a genius!!
  • Mike, we won't forget you we promise!!!! You were voted as the best athlete in the 20th century!!!! Why even concern your self with this debate? This isn't a "flaw" it's just a truth that most players share. If you let me go to my "strong hand" which means I going to my "strong side" you will get my strongest move. Can Bron drive left? Of course, and get to the rack and finish but it's not his strong hand so of course his percentage to that side would be lower. He and players like him who can dominate a game, games are always broken down so do you really think the average coach hasn't tried the "sit on his strong hand" defensive strategy? He's not the perfect player, neither was Mike, Kobe or the other greats before them. Mike should learn from the other greats who time has passed and enjoy the life after basketball. The HOF speech and now this is really tarnishing what was suppose to be a flawless legacy.
  • I watched Jordan through his carreer and I've watched James through his to date. I played ball myself. No comparison, Michael played at another level, one that Lebron is just not genetically capable of playing at. He simply does not have it in him, and it can't be learned or gained through will and training. End of story.
  • All the back and forth on this posting and there is nary a mention of Jordan's defensive prowess. When Kobe or Lebron win a Defensive Player of the Year award or set a record for 1st Team All Defensive Selections, then they can enter into the "as good as Jordan" discussion. And don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. Over and out.
  • there both all time greats.im tired of reading that james is the first player to score 30 and shot 60 percent in 6 games in a row.nonsence.baylor did it for 7 and chamberlain did it for a unbreakable 42 straight games.
  • Im not gonna argue about who is the better basketball player, MJ or lebron? who knows, they didnt play at the same time or head to head in their primes. However, what i think seperates MJ from the rest is the same thing that seperates babe ruth from the rest of baseball players. MJ was basketball while he played. It was more than just his ability as a player, it was his cultural impact on the game. People who werent "basketball fans" persay still watched just to see MJ play. Everyone wanted to "be like mike". He was center stage in his time. Lebron is obviously one of the all time greats, he can take over a game and be unstoppable. However, people dont talk with the same awe about watching lebraon play as they did about watching MJ play. I definately dont turn my tv to the heat game every night just to watch lebron play. MJ transended his abilities and was basketball. Lebron hasnt done that yet.
  • Excuse me. I thought Michael Jordan was an NBA owner. Owners are supposed to be above critiquing the play of individual players in the league. Maybe he ought to go to NBA owners' school and learn. He is, obviously, concerned that LeBron will dehtrone him as the greatest player of all time.
  • i read and reread the owners manual and nowhere did i find that an owner cannot critque any part of the game with the exception of officiating.... hmmm perhaps you can point out what i MUST have missed.... as far as jordan goes... i don't believe him when he says he "thinks" he's found a flaw...having been selected 9 times to the all n.b.a. first team defense.... i'm believe he's "sure" he has found one.... as to being "dethroned"... not by lebron.... he doesn't have the competitive drive nor mental toughness to reach that echelon.. as evidenced by his hesitancy to take a game over particularly during the playoffs (where jordan routinely shined)... i've seen lebron fold like a lawn chair on many occasions..... basically... james couldn't see jordan's tail lights with his high beams on... but there is no shame in that... through the history of the game .. very few could
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