To begin this lengthy debate topic I think we should look at the numbers first...
Jordan wins this one. LeBron has only led the league once. Jordan led the NBA for seven straight seasons. That is an NBA record tied with Wilt. He has ten total. Jordan averaged 30.1 ppg in his entire career, that includes his days in a Wizards uniform. James on the other hand has a very good average of 27.6 ppg. He is in his prime currently. That number should drop down to 24 or 25 when he decides to retire. James as an 18 year-old rookie was averaging 20, 5, and 5. Jordan did that at age 40 with bad knees.
James wins this one. Jordan always had a great rebounder on every team he played for in Chicago. His final year he played, he averaged 6.1 rpg as a Wizard. That is remarkable. Though, I must say that he was a smarter rebounder than James. LeBron will have a higher rebounding total than Jordan will, which makes sense. LeBron is bigger and today's game doesn't have dominate big men. I'm not knocking James, it's just the truth.
This is just a dead tie. You can give your vote for either one here. Jordan could and should have had more assists in his career, but considering that he played under Phil Jackson and the triangle offense his numbers were lower. The triangle offense is designed to have lower assist totals for a player and team overall. James has played in a "free-for-all" type system in Cleveland and in Miami.
Jordan wins this one by a long shot. That is being nice about it. Jordan was a straight up thief out on the hardwood. James' season high for steals is 2.2, Jordan's is 3.2. Get the picture? Jordan averaged 1.5 steals per night in his last season. James has averaged 1.6 steals a night for his entire career. That means it will go down! Jordan averaged 2.3 steals per game in his career and led the NBA in steals three separate times in his amazing and great career. While LeBron has yet to do so.
Jordan wins this one yet again. Are you seeing the trend here? LeBron is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time in sports history. Jordan is better just because of this stat. Blocking shots requires timing and jumping ability. Jordan had both. James averaged one block a game three times in his career. He hasn't done so for two years now. Which tells me that he won't again. Jordan did it four times. LeBron's seasonal high was 1.1, while Jordan's is 1.6. That is amazing. Jordan was a guard his whole career and was 6'6". James is two inches taller than that.
Ahhhh. Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk about their effect on the game itself...
I was watching a Michael Jordan special once and in that short film, it said that Jordan once produced 10 billion dollars for the NBA and the television markets. That is incredible. Jordan lifted the game to new heights. This coming after the Bird vs. Magic rivalry in the 80's. Jordan raised the game to a whole new level. At that point in time, many would have thought it would be impossible. Now granted, Jordan won six titles in the 90's and internet was becoming available in masses. LeBron lives in a day with many social networking sites and almost every house hold has more than one television in America now. Yet, the NBA is still the same game. Jordan helped Stern and the league become a global icon. Something LeBron has yet to top.
Comparing eras to me is perfectly fine...
You compare the "Jordan era" to the "LeBron era" and it is really different. In the 80's and 90's you earned two points from the line. People like Patrick Ewing or Charles Oakley didn't care who you were, they were going to put you on the floor, hard. You can't do that in today's game. Also they didn't call the touch fouls like they do now. Hand checks were perfectly legal, which I think the league should change the rule, and it was much tougher to score like that.
Guys like Olajuwon, Mutombo, Ewing, Eaton, O'Neal, Robinson, Barkley, Oakley, Abdul-Jabbar, Cooper, Worthy, Thomas, Rodman, Dumars, Laimbeer, Drexler, and many others were in the "Jordan era." Many of the players then could block shots, a lot of them in fact. Many of them are either in the Hall of Fame or have won championships, and are on their way to the Hall of Fame. Jordan had to play those guys every day. It seemed like every team had a dominate player and a great defender. Something today's game doesn't have.
I know a lot of readers are saying that you can't compare two different eras. Well you can. Jordan once said that if he played in his prime today he could drop 50 points a game, with ease. I believe him. He has something very few have, no fear of critics or anybody. He was a cold-blooded shooter that would end a team's hopes of winning a game, series, or an NBA Finals win. LeBron showed some of that this year though. It makes me somewhat happy.
Should we compare awards now?
14x All-Star, 6x NBA Champion 6x NBA Finals MVP, 5x MVP, 10x Scoring Champion, 3x Steals Champion, NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 10x All-NBA First Team, All-NBA Second Team, 9x NBA All-Defensive First Team, NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA All-Rookie First Team, 3x All-Star Game MVP, 2x Slam Dunk Champion, Hall of Fame, 2x Olympic Gold Medal winner, NBA's 50 Greatest Players of All-Time. That is from the professional level.
NBA Champion, NBA Finals MVP, 3x NBA MVP, 8x NBA All-Star, NBA Scoring Champion, 6x All-NBA First Team, 2x All-NBA Team Second Team, 4x NBA All-Defensive First Team, NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA All-Rookie First Team, 2x NBA All-Star Game MVP, Bronze Medal winner in 2004 Olympic Team, Gold Medal winner in 2008 Olympic Team. Those are the awards James has won in nine professional seasons.
Now many people tend to forget the fact that Jordan entered the NBA at the age of 21. James did so at 18. Jordan averaged 20 ppg as a 40 year-old, James did that as an 18 year-old. That is remarkable. Many say, "oh, well James was 27 when he first won his ring." Funny part about that is the fact that Jordan was 28. Another interesting thing is that James has won one ring in nine seasons. Jordan won three rings in his first nine.
I think you should also ask yourself these questions...
Who do you want on your team? Jordan.
Who do you want to take the last shot? Jordan.
Who would you take in a draft knowing what you'll get from the start? Jordan.
Who is the better offensive player? Jordan.
Who is the better defensive player? Jordan.
You can compare the two guys all you want. It'll end with "Jordan is better."
On a side note, Jordan wouldn't have called up Bird or Magic and said lets team up.
Maybe this will knock some sense into the people that say "LeBron > Jordan."
*Buzzer sounds* Jordan wins this one.
T.J. Watson is a 16-year-old sports writer from Illinois. Watson, a huge Bulls fan, is an aspiring NBA coach or GM. T.J. is very well versed in the game of hoops and has sound information.