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Michael Jordan Versus LeBron James: Who Is the GOAT?

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Jesse is a lifelong sports fan with a passion for finding the facts. His writing has been recognized and published by Sports Illustrated.

Who's the GOAT, LeBron James or Michael Jordan?

Credit artist: Ryan "Rockeverywear" Weiss https://etsy.me/2KyZV46

Credit artist: Ryan "Rockeverywear" Weiss https://etsy.me/2KyZV46

History of Michael Jordan and LeBron James

Ever since LeBron James was deemed as The Chosen One, there has been a conversation about whether he could surpass Michael Jordan as the greatest of all time. He grew up idolizing MJ, dressing like him, wearing his shoes, and studying his play style. Once he joined the league, he even donned his number 23.

LeBron has recently appeared in his eighth straight NBA Finals series. He has nine in total and now holds a record of 3–6. Jordan, as we all know, has six rings in six appearances. Oftentimes, the rings argument is what puts MJ ahead of LeBron in debates on who is the GOAT. However, rings shouldn't carry that much weight. If they did, the greatest player ever would be Bill Russell, who won 11 championships in his 13-year career.

Who is considered the GOAT of basketball is important because of the impact one player can have on the game. Unlike football, where 53 men play, basketball teams can be completely changed by one man. In order to end this debate of who's the greatest, one needs to look at the key factors that would determine who the greatest of all time is.

LeBron Sports Illustrated Cover

LeBron Sports Illustrated Cover

Jordan and James Career Accolades

LeBron JamesMichael JordanAdvantage

Future Hall of Famer

Hall of Famer

Equal

3x NBA Champion (3-6 Finals Record)

6x NBA Champion (6-0 Finals Record

Jordan

3x NBA Final MVP

6x NBA Finals MVP

Jordan

4x MVP

5x MVP

Jordan

15x All Star

14x All Star

James

15x All NBA Team

11x All NBA Team

James

6x All Defensive Player

9x All Defensive Player (87-88 Defensive Player of the Year)

Jordan

03-04 Rookie of the Year

84-85 Rookie of the Year

Equal

Michael Jordan Trophies

Michael Jordan Trophies

Why Michael Jordan Is the GOAT

Currently, Jordan holds a lead in all accolades minus Rookie of the Year, All-Star appearances, All-NBA Team, and Hall of Fame. He has a better Finals record as well as three more rings than LeBron. He also has three more All-Defense selections and one more MVP award. He also has a Defensive Player of the Year award, an accomplishment that has eluded James. While LeBron could surpass Jordan in All-Defense selections, it is hard to believe that he will be able to win four rings to best Jordan's six.

LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan Stats

PlayerPoints Per GameRebounds Per GameAssists Per GameField Goal PercentageThree-Point Field Goal PercentageFree Throw PercentagePlayer Efficiency RatingSteals Per GameBlocks Per GameTurnovers Per Game

LeBron James

27.1

7.4

7.4

50.4

34.3

73.5

27.5

1.6

.8

3.5

Michael Jordan

30.1

6.2

5.3

49.7

32.7

83.5

27.9

2.3

.8

2.7

LeBron James vs Michael Jordan Finals Stats

PlayerRecordPoints Per GameRebounds Per GameAssists Per GameField Goal PercentageThree-Point Field Goal PercentageFree Throw PercentageSteals Per GameBlocks Per GameTurnovers Per Game

LeBron James

3–6

28.2

10

7.7

47.4

32.9

72.5

1.75

.87

4.0

Michael Jordan

6–0

33.6

6.0

5.9

48.4

34.3

82.1

1.77

.65

2.82

Why King James Is the GOAT

LeBron James' statistics indicate that he is a much better overall basketball player. While Jordan scored more overall, LeBron is a more efficient scorer. He has a better shooting percentage overall; he also shoots better at the three-point line, despite taking fewer shots. LeBron is also a much better passer and rebounder than Jordan ever was. MJ has a much better free throw percentage, which helps to bolster that points per game statistic. The two are almost even in efficiency ratings, with Michael being first overall in NBA history, and LeBron trailing slightly at second. Michael averaged more steals per game, but both players are dead even in blocks per game. LeBron turned the ball over more per game as well. What these career stats show is that King James is capable of excelling in all aspects of the game, not just in scoring.

In the Finals, LeBron loses his advantage in shooting efficiency but excels even higher above Jordan in his rebounding and passing ability. He also takes an advantage over Jordan defensively, leading in blocks and nearly equaling him in steals. Jordan won more games and thus has a greater overall record in the Finals. On an individual performance level, however, LeBron excels in more categories than Jordan in both their regular-season careers and Finals.

Jordan LeBron Game Winners

Jordan LeBron Game Winners

Who Was More Clutch, LeBron or Jordan?

One of the most important parts of basketball is being able to hit the big shots when your team needs it. If you're going to be an alpha male, lead your team, and be considered the greatest ever, then you have to be able to step up with cold blood and win a game. Jordan is revered for being one of the most clutch players ever. LeBron, on the other hand, has been criticized his entire career for his lack of "clutchness" compared to MJ or even Kobe. I compiled all of LeBron and Michael's playoff statistics and compared their career numbers to games in which they faced elimination, as well as games in which they could eliminate their opponents. The results are as follows:

LeBron vs. Jordan Clutch Statistics

 Field Goal %Free Throw %Total ReboundsTotal AssistsTotal StealsTotal BlocksTurnoversPointsWin/Loss

Michael Jordan Career

49.7%

83.5%

6.2

5.3

2.3

.8

2.7

30.1

 

Jordan Eliminating Opponents

40.7% (-9%)

84.6% (+1.1%)

4.8 (-1.4)

3.2 (-2.1)

1.5 (-.8)

.2 (-.6)

1.9 (-.8)

29.8 (-.3)

30-10

Jordan Facing Elimination

48.1% (-1.6%)

77.8% (-5.7%)

7.9 (+1.7)

7 (+1.7)

1.6 (-.7)

1.3 (+.5)

4.2 (+1.5)

32.8 (+2.7)

5-7

LeBron James Career

50.4%

73.9%

7.4

7.2

1.6

.8

3.5

27.2

 

LeBron Eliminating Opponents

52.9% (+2.5%)

70.6% (-3.3%)

8.7 (+1.3)

7.6 (+.4)

1.8 (+.2)

1.4 (+.6)

3.9 (+.4)

28.8 (+1.6)

35-10

LeBron Facing Elimination

53.9% (+3.5%)

66% (-7.9%)

13 (+5.6)

9 (+1.8)

2.4 (+.8)

1.8 (+1)

2.2 (-1.7)

36.4 (+9.2)

14-10

LeBron Is More Clutch than Jordan

The statistics show one thing clearly, LeBron steps up in the clutch far more strongly than Jordan did. When facing a chance to eliminate an opponent, Jordan was 30-10, or won 75% of the time. Of the eight main statistical categories, his numbers dropped in each except for free throw percentage and turnovers. He shot 9% worse, had 1.4 fewer rebounds, 2.1 fewer assists, .8 fewer steals, and .6 fewer blocks. His only impressive improvement was having .8 fewer turnovers in such games. His scoring efficiency, assists and rebounds, and overall defense all lacked in games where he could put opponents away.

However, when facing elimination Jordan stepped up in some ways. He's 5-7 in his career in elimination games, boasting a winning percentage of only 41.6%. Facing elimination, Jordan's field goal percentage, free throw percentage, steals, and turnovers all got worse. He improved in rebounds, assists, blocks, and points. While he shot worse slightly, he did score 2.7 more points per game. His rebounds and assists improved well by 1.7 each per game. However, he missed 5.7% more free throws facing elimination and turned the ball over 1.5 more times per game.

LeBron, when facing a chance to eliminate his opponent, boasts a record of 35-10, or a 77.8% winning percentage. Of the eight main statistical categories, he improved in six. His field goal percentage, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and points per game all improved. He shot 2.5% better overall, added 1.3 more rebounds, .6 more blocks, and 1.6 more points. His free throw percentage falls 3.3%, and he turns the ball over .4 more times per game. James simply gets a little more involved in games where he can finish his opponents, but many of his numbers only slightly increase in these situations.

When James is facing elimination he completely changes. Of the eight main statistical categories, he improves in seven. He shoots 3.5% better, adds 5.6 more rebounds per game, 1.8 more assists, .8 more steals, 1 more block per game, 1.3 fewer turnovers, and 9.2 more points. His only downside is his free throw percentage drops 7.9% when facing elimination. LeBron plays at a completely different level when facing elimination. He improves in his on-court efficiency in every way imaginable; scoring, rebounding, getting others involved, he vastly improves defensively, and he turns the ball over less.

In conclusion, LeBron is much more clutch than Jordan. When the two smelled blood and had a chance to eliminate their opponents, LeBron wins 2.7% more often. When their backs are against the wall, LeBron wins 16.7% more often. Jordan only improved slightly in a few categories when facing elimination. LeBron improved in almost every single category and improved incredibly when facing elimination. To say LeBron doesn't play better and more clutch in crunch time situations is absurd. LeBron James has also hit more buzzer beaters than Jordan, and more go-ahead shots with five seconds to go in the game. His field goal percentage on these shots is also higher than Jordan's. You can see the statistics and video evidence of each of their made shots below.

Jordan vs. LeBron Clutch Shots Postseason

 Field GoalsField Goal %Buzzer Beaters

Jordan

5-11

45.5%

3

LeBron

7-15

46.7%

5

Who Is More Clutch, LeBron or Jordan?

Crying Jordan Meme

Crying Jordan Meme

Did Jordan Play in a Weak League?

Michael Jordan won his six rings in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1998. He has two three-peat performances that were separated by a short stint in baseball. While many believe this solidifies him as the greatest, they often fail to look at the league surrounding him at the time.

Between the years of 1988 and 1995, the NBA expanded. Six teams were added; Hornets (88), Heat (88), Magic (89), Timberwolves (89), Raptors (95), and Grizzlies (95). The following stats cover the time between their creation and their first playoff appearance as a team. They will include their overall game record, the number of games played against Michael, the overall record of Jordan vs that team in those years, and their playoff record against each other if applicable.

Charlotte Hornets: First playoff appearance in 1993

  • 1988-1993 (Combined record of 140-270)
  • 88-89: 5 Games, 4-1
  • 89-90: 2 Games, 2-0
  • 90-91:5 Games, 5-0
  • 91-92: 4 Games, 4-0
  • 92-93: 5 Games, 3-2
  • Playoffs: N/A

Miami Heat: First playoff appearance in 1992

  • 1988-1992 (Combined record of 95-233)
  • 88-89: 2 Games, 2-0
  • 89-90: 4 Games, 4-0
  • 90-91: 4 Games, 4-0
  • 91-92: 4 Games, 4-0
  • Playoffs: 3 games, 3-0

Magic: First playoff appearance in 1994

  • 1989-1994 (Combined record of 106-249)
  • 89-90: 5 Games, 3-2
  • 90-91: 2 Games, 2-0
  • 91-92: 4 Games, 3-1
  • 92-93: 4 Games, 3-1
  • 93-94: 1 Game, 1-0
  • Playoffs: N/A

Timberwolves: First playoff appearance in 1997

  • 1989-1997 (Combined record of 192-464)
  • 89-90: 2 Games, 2-0
  • 90-91: 2 Games, 2-0
  • 91-92: 2 Games, 2-0
  • 92-93: 2 Games, 2-0
  • 93-94: 0 Games
  • 94-95: 2 Games, 2-0
  • 95-96: 2 Games, 2-0
  • 96-97: 2 Games, 1-1
  • Playoffs: N/A

Raptors: First playoff appearance in 2000

  • 1995-2000 (Combined record of 135-243)
  • 95-96: 4 Games, 3-1
  • 96-97: 4 Games, 3-1
  • 97-98: 4 Games, 4-0
  • 98-99: Retired
  • 99-00: Retired

Grizzlies: First playoff appearance in 2004

  • 1995-2002 (Jordan retired for good in 2002) (Combined record of 101-418)
  • 95-96: 2 Games, 2-0
  • 96-97: 2 Games, 2-0
  • 97-98: 2 Games, 2-0
  • 00-01: 1 Game, 1-0
  • 01-02: 1 Game, 0-1

Michael played in a league that was watered down throughout his career. As the new expansion teams finally got to the playoffs (and many didn't stay long), new teams continued to flood the league. At any given time in his career after 1988, there were at least three teams that had five or less years of experience. However, LeBron also has his fair share of criticism for playing against weak talent.

Did Jordan Play in a Weak League?

Crying LeBron Meme

Crying LeBron Meme

Does LeBron Play in a Weak Conference?

While Jordan could be said to have played in an overall weak league, many believe LeBron has played in a weak conference for his whole career. The East has been behind the West in nearly every single one of LeBron's seasons in the league. Here is the total number of wins in head-to-head matchups between the two conferences. The East has only won more games in one of James' 14 seasons.

  • 03-04: West with +112 wins.
  • 04-05: West with +62 wins.
  • 05-06: West with +54 wins.
  • 06-07: West with +64 wins.
  • 07-08: West with +66 wins.
  • 08-09: East with +12 wins.
  • 09-10: West with +42 wins.
  • 10-11: West with +72 wins.
  • 11-12: West with +42 wins.
  • 12-13: West with +74 wins.
  • 13-14: West with +118 wins.
  • 14-15: West with +76 wins.
  • 15-16: West with +14 wins.
  • 16-17: West with +42 wins.
  • 17-18 West with +24 wins.
  • 18-19 West with +54 wins.

Although the West has won more games consistently, the East has won eight out of 16 championships since LeBron has entered the league.

Aside from this, LeBron James has also only had two losing season against the Western Conference, in his rookie year when he was 6–22 and in his first season with the Lakers when he was 25–27. He tied the conference 15–15 once, in the 2017–2018 season. Every other season LeBron has a winning record against the West and overall James bolsters a record of 295–193 against the Western Conference for his career. So while LeBron does play in the weaker overall conference, he has never had a hard time beating the West.

LeBron joined the Western Conference when he joined the Lakers in 2018.

Is the East Weaker than the West?

Jordan and LeBron Playoffs and Finals

Chris Broussard made a claim before the 2017 Finals that Michael Jordan only faced 9 Hall of Famers during his championship games. LeBron has faced 30 so far. Below is the Hall of Fame opponents listed, including potential future ones that LeBron has played.

Jordan:

  • Magic Johnson
  • James Worthy
  • Clyde Drexler
  • Charles Barkley
  • Gary Payton
  • John Stockton x2
  • Karl Malone x2

Total: 9

LeBron:

  • Tim Duncan x3
  • Tony Parker x3
  • Manu Ginobili x3
  • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Jason Kidd
  • Kevin Durant x3
  • Russell Westbrook
  • James Harden
  • Kawhi Leonard x2
  • Steph Curry x4
  • Klay Thompson x4
  • Draymond Green x4

Total: 30

Of course, not all of these players were in their prime, and overall both played against good competition. While this doesn't cover their playoff roads to get to the Finals, it shows the top talents each player faced on the biggest stage. LeBron has faced two dynasties on seven separate occasions in the Spurs and the Warriors. As for the playoffs, there is a long list of players who MJ and LeBron have faced, many of which were Hall of Famers as well. Below is the list of Hall of Famers each player has played in the playoffs alone, leading to the Finals.

Jordan:

  • Larry Bird 0-2
  • Kevin McHale 0-2
  • Dennis Johnson 0-2
  • Robert Parish 0-2
  • Bill Walton 0-2
  • Isaiah Thomas 1-3
  • Joe Dumars 1-3
  • Adrian Dantley 0-2
  • Dennis Rodman 1-3
  • Patrick Ewing 5-0
  • Charles Barkley 2-0
  • Dominique Wilkins 1-0
  • Alonzo Mourning 3-0
  • Shaquille O'Neil 1-1
  • Dikembe Mutombo 1-0
  • Reggie Miller 1-0

Michael Jordan faced 16 Hall of Famers throughout the playoffs on 39 occasions. He posted a winning record against 6 of the 16, a tied record with 1, and a losing record with 9 of the 16. His total record in the playoffs against Hall of Fame opponents was 17-22, with 10 of his 17 wins coming against Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley and Alonzo Mourning alone. If you include his Finals appearances, MJ faced 24 Hall of Famers on 48 separate occasions, with a final postseason record of 26-22, or 54%. The problem with this is 20% of his entire postseason wins came against 3 players who never won rings.

LeBron:

  • Ben Wallace: 1-1
  • Chauncey Billups: 2-1
  • Vince Carter 1-0
  • Allen Iverson 1-0
  • Jason Kidd 1-0
  • Ray Allen 2-2
  • Kevin Garnett 3-2
  • Paul Pierce 3-2
  • Dwight Howard 0-1
  • Derrick Rose* 3-0 (These matchups were pre-injury against MVP caliber Rose)
  • Carmelo Anthony 1-0
  • Paul George 3-0
  • Jimmy Butler 2-0
  • Pau Gasol 1-0

LeBron faced 14 current or future Hall of Famers throughout the playoffs, with many players who may end up there that aren't listed here. He faced these 14 on 33 occasions. He posted a winning record against 11 of the 14, tied with 2, and only posted a losing record to Dwight Howard with a single matchup that he lost. His total record against Hall of Fame opponents in the playoffs was 24-9, having no more than 3 wins against a single opponent. If you include Finals appearances, LeBron faced 25 Hall of Famers on 65 occasions, with a final postseason record of 34-31, or 52%. Of those 25 Hall of Famers, 7 of them accounted for 17 of his matchup losses, being the dynasty Spurs and Warriors.

In conclusion, we can see that both players won more than they lost. Jordan never beat the dynasty Celtics in the playoffs and had a 25% winning percentage against the Bad Boys of Detroit. The majority of his postseason wins came against Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, and Alonzo Mourning; guys who never won a ring. LeBron however, won against multiple Hall of Famers at a good ratio. He only posted a losing record in the playoffs against one Hall of Famer who he played a single time. Michael Jordan had a losing record in the playoffs against 9 Hall of Famers, 6 of which he never beat in the postseason.

Only 9 out of 48 Hall of Fame opponents Jordan faced were in the Finals, 18%.

32 out of 65 Hall of Fame opponents LeBron James faced were in the Finals, 49%.

LeBron vs. Jordan Postseason

Jordan's Teammates vs. LeBron's Teammates

Aside from who they played, it also matters who they've played with! Many people credit LeBron with the development of the modern age super teams. They say he had to find help in order to win, starting when he left for Miami with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. He continued when he returned to Cleveland to join Kyrie Irving and recruited Kevin Love. So who really played with better supporting players throughout their careers? Below I will list the All Star teammates (while Jordan and LeBron played with them) and Hall of Fame (or future inductees) teammates for each player.

Jordan's All Star Squad:

  • Scottie Pippen (6x)

LeBron's All Star Squad:

  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas
  • Mo Williams
  • Kyrie Irving (2x)
  • Kevin Love
  • Chris Bosh (4x)
  • Dwayne Wade (4x)

Jordan's Hall of Fame Teammates:

  • Scottie Pippen
  • Dennis Rodman

LeBron's Hall of Fame Teammates:

  • Shaquille O'Neil
  • Dwayne Wade
  • Chris Bosh

LeBron had many more All-Stars to help him throughout his career, but the two had similar Hall of Fame talent on their teams, with LeBron only having one more, who was Shaquille O'Neil when he was far past his prime. Still, LeBron has had a far superior lineup and so Jordan holds the advantage.

Cavaliers Championship Ring

Cavaliers Championship Ring

Jordan's 6 Rings vs. LeBron's 3

Michael Jordan has six rings in six attempts. That's clearly better than LeBron's three rings in nine attempts, right? Not necessarily. While Jordan does have a better Finals record and more rings, it doesn't make him automatically better in the postseason. Based on the number of teams admitted to the playoffs, if you are knocked out in the first round, you could be ranked at 16th at worst and ninth at best. That ranking goes up to eighth and fifth during the second round. If eliminated during the Conference Finals, you could be ranked fourth at worst or third at best. Losing in the Finals obviously means you are the second best team in the league. Below is a listing of the rounds LeBron and Jordan were eliminated in during the playoffs.

  • 1st Round: Jordan 3, LeBron 0
  • 2nd Round: Jordan 2, LeBron 3
  • Conference Finals: Jordan 2, LeBron 1
  • Finals: Jordan 0, LeBron 6
  • Wins: Jordan 6, LeBron 3

James has either been the best or second best in nine of his 16 seasons. This means that 56.25% of the time, he would make the Finals and finish the season at first or second. 6.25% of the time, he would rank between third or fourth. He would rank between fifth and eighth 18.75% of the time. He has never ranked at ninth or lower when making the playoffs. James has missed the playoffs 3 times in his career, meaning he finished on a team that was ranked 17th or worse 18.75% of the time.

Jordan was first or second in six of his 15 seasons. He was the best in the league 40% of the time. He was third or fourth 13% of the time; that same number applies to how often he ranked between fifth and eighth. He ranked ninth and lower 20% of the time. Jordan has missed the playoffs 2 times in his career, meaning he finished on a team that was ranked 17th or worse 13.3% of the time.

So while Jordan has a higher percentage of being the absolute best, he also had a higher percentage of being one of the worst teams in the playoffs. LeBron has a much more consistent stream of winning throughout his career, even if it wasn't winning the championship.

Who's the Best Basketball Player Ever?

In conclusion, LeBron James is statistically a better player when it comes to all-around basketball. However, Michael Jordan was a much better scorer. He won more on the biggest stage, but failed often in the playoffs and rarely beat some of his greatest opponents. James played with better teammates than Jordan did. MJ also played in a much weaker league, but LeBron played in a weaker conference for the majority of his career. So who is truly the GOAT?

Who's the GOAT of the NBA?

Was Jordan Overrated?

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  • Top 10 NBA Players Ever
    This article will cover the top 10 National Basketball Association players of all time, judged by their stats, career accolades, strengths, and weaknesses. Enjoy!
  • Why Michael Jordan Is Overrated
    Jordan is known as the greatest to ever play, but with emerging stars like LeBron James and old rivals like Bird and Magic, do the numbers support Jordan as the best? This article will show why Jordan was overrated as a clutch player, winner, etc.

© 2017 Jesse Unk

Comments

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on September 21, 2020:

Steph,

Opinion supported by multiple facts.

Steph on September 21, 2020:

Dont take this Jesse Unk seriously guys..This is just his opinion..Eye test wont lie who is better.

zavon mcdade on September 21, 2020:

who will be the only player to lead 3 NBA teams to a ring

ohhhhh thats right King James

zavon henry mcdade on September 21, 2020:

lebron cant be guarded he proved that last night

Duck deez on September 18, 2020:

Jordan won defensive player of the year (won mvp same year) why couldn't he guard lebron? What year did Lebron win it again? Lebron could not guard MJ. Nobody could.

zavon mcdade on September 18, 2020:

Lebron James is the goat of the NBA no cap he is a much better play than Jordan ever was if Jordan was still playing he could not guard Lebron and you wanna know how i know that Jordan cant even guard Allen Iverson so how can he guard the most feared player in the NBA answer that

GOATDebate on September 15, 2020:

Man. Appreciated the analysis you put together. But honestly to make things simple & quick, just go watch 2011 Final and Lebron shipped has sail after that choked moment on the biggest stage. Stacked Miami( with 3 Hall of Famers ) team lost to Oldman Nowitzki & Kidd. Jordan always the best player on the court even when he doesn't have the team and never choked on the big stage. And by the way, GOAT doesn't call themself GOAT. Hopefully, Lebron can win a few more titles then we can revisit this debate.

Rick Brier on September 07, 2020:

There is a huge difference in ERA's. The 80's and 90's were much better than today, and that's a fact! Coaching today is horrible, and defense is pretty much non existent. Teams of yester year ran plays, and actually utilized centers correctly down in the post. This ERA is nothing more than run and gun (Rucker League). Steve Kerr has been on record saying that the league now isn't very good because too many 3s are being shot. the league is averaging over 30 3s a game, and shooting 36%. When you factor in that back in the day, they ran plays, and played really good hard nosed defense and had actual rim protectors, this ERA wouldn't stand a chance against many teams back then. I've actually seen James Harden go 3-19 behind the arc, and still win...If he did that against the teams of yester year, they are losing every time, because Harden just shot himself out of the game. The hall of fame is a popularity contest, and means absolutely nothing! It's great for the players who are there, but again, there are guys in the hall that averaged 5 points per game for a career. In closing, I will say that Lebron is a great player in a very weak ERA of basketball, and I mean no disrespect, those are just the facts! MJ Is, and always be the GOAT because of everything he did in a very tough ERA of basketball!

Zeke Pogi on September 06, 2020:

its nice to see you make a poll to vote in make for your super biased assessment. afterall, you see majority of the popoulation do not agree with you.

Duck on September 05, 2020:

I think the biggest thing that everyone overlooks is that when MJ came out of college (1 ncaa title) nobody was discussing him as being the greatest ever. He went out and earned that title. Lebron (didnt go to college, but not winning a title is a mark against him) came out of High school and was unfairly tasked with becoming the GOAT. Now all of those people are trying to fulfill their preconceived notion. I read once that when Jordan retired after title 6, the NBA lost over 50% of their viewing audience. That would add more credence to the argument that people want a savior and will create one. Lebron has had an unbelievable career, is a physical specimen just not sure he rises to the GOAT level. There still are players that cannot be discounted, currently, that could pass Lebron. Kawhi could have that "it" factor that is immeasurable. If he takes a 3rd team to the finals and wins some more hardware, who knows. Nice article, clearly biased though

FYI...I'm from Ohio on September 05, 2020:

So Horace Grant is part of a big 3 super team? Gonna have to take that to some other market. Not sellin round here.

someone on August 24, 2020:

MJ = NBA GOAT

OJ2x on August 19, 2020:

Pito Love and MJ Bonette are two of the biggest idiots I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting (via internet). How can you get mad at a “biased,” article when he gave your dumbasses the write to vote, so who gives a shit? There was literally an entire section explaining how and why Lebron is more clutch than Jordan was which was supported with evidence, and you Jordan idiots still said Jordan was more clutch, if that doesn’t spell delusion and bias then idk what does. Also there’s no way jordan would be leading Lebron in all “major,” stat categories. The author pulled stats where Jordan excelled and where Lebron excelled. Can you really sit here and say that Jordan was an all around greater player? An article finds arguments for both sides and even titles them for idiots like you two who apparently cannot read, i.e “Jordan played in a weak league,” followed by “Lebrons weak conference”. Then this dummy Pito wants to talk ab Lebron having no character. Now, I am a kobe fan forever (I just respect Lebron bc he’s playing for my fav team, and have a distaste for idiots) that said, wtf did Jordan really do for anyone besides play ball, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! When his “brother,” was running for office, he ain’t do shit. Meanwhile, aside from that really shitty Hong Kong piece that Lebron stupidly said, he’s opened a school for the less fortunate as well as him being a staunch activist for civil rights. I respect and admire Jordan as much as the next guy but you people are talking ab bias when you really hate Lebron bc he isn’t from THAT generation and as soon as someone threatens Jordan’s legacy yall little fruit baskets gotta get your pitchforks and run them ppl “outta town.” Yall dumb as hell.

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on August 16, 2020:

Pito,

Tell us how you really feel.

Pito Love on August 16, 2020:

OMG!! As soon as I came down towards the closing or "wrap-up" of this clearly Biased "Stan-Fan Hit Piece" the "Biased, closed-minded Fan" Light Bulb came on Immediately!!

There IS A GREAT POSSIBILITY... HUGE POSSIBILITY, that Lebron James WILL rack up the point... Numbers to surpass MJ in Certain areas when LJ retires. He's what, 35?? And he's in a great position (LA) to rack up them numbers.

But, to those Real Men!! Yes, Real Men who know & have been through Blood, Sweat, & Tears Situations, Real Men who know & Live an Actual, Real life of Being LOYAL, True to Your Team, Your Boys, Your People, Your Place Where People Stick by You, No Matter What! Win Or Lose, they with You! Real Men who Know & Live by the Motto "Feelings Aren't Facts" & Walk Through the Fire, the Heat when the Kitchen Is Xtra Hot! Real Men that DON'T GIVE UP because they're Upset, Frustrated, or EMOTIONAL!! LOGIC & INTELLIGENCE OVER EMOTIONS! NEVER GIVE UP! WARRIOR MENTALITY! "THE BLACK MAMBA" Displayed this Warrior, Extra Heart, Never Give Up, Push Harder, Push Forward... Mentality!! Jordan Has that!! Sadly, Lebron James is of this New Era where You HAVE to Say that You're Great before others say it for you! The Arrogance is Appalling & causes a sense of disgrace to All those who left their Sweat, Blood, & Tears seared onto All those wood floors across the World & Stadiums they set foot at.

You saw it Clearly Displayed on their Faces when asked about how they felt when one of their own said they were the greatest! Almost All had that Facial Expression of Shame & Disgust for dude... But in a show of Class, Integrity, Comradery, & Respect for the Game & Culture, Most if not All decided to Gracefully oppose any Negative Commentary against their Peer.

Lebron's past Childish, Immature, Arrogant Behavior & Egotistical Antics & WORST of ALL, HAVING "TEMPER TANTRUMS" & "GIVING UP" ON THE BASKET BALL COURT, DURING GAMES, IN FRONT OF MILLIONS (ON AIR) Has cost him to Have A Few **ASTERISKS On His NAME & MICHAEL JORDAN CLEARLY IS FREE FROM ALL THIS. JORDAN IS A TRUE WARRIOR... A REAL MAN WHO TOOK IT STRAIGHT TO OTHER "STAND UP" MEN WHO BY THE END OF THE GAME... IF HE DIDN'T HAVE THE RESPECT OF THE MAN & HIS TEAM... HE'D MOST DEFINITELY GET IT BY THE TIME THE LAST BUZZARD RANG TRUE!

MY ONLY ISSUE WITH LEBRON JAMES...

AND IF THERE WERE A STAT ON "CHARACTER" & IF THAT STAT DETERMINED HIS PLACE IN NBA GREATNESS... HE'D MOST DEFINATELY BE PRETTY LOW ON THAT "GREATNESS" OR GOAT STAT LIST. FACTS NOT FICTION!! STOP LYING TO YOURSELVES TO FIT THE NARRATIVE! SAME WAY A CERTAIN PEOPLE "CANCEL YOU" FOR SPEAKING TRUTH ARE THE ONES PUSHING THIS "DELUSIONAL THOUGHT PROCESS!"

JUST LIKE WHEN THEY TRIED TO "CANCEL" JAY Z FOR SPEAKING TRUTH WHEN SAYING "JEWS OWN PROPERTY IN AMERICA..." LEBRON JAMES JUST FOR SAYING "JEWISH MONEY??" YET IN THEIR OWN PUBLICATION, JEWISH TIMES, THE HEADLINES SAY, "WHO'S IN THE OWNERS BOX?" THEY'RE CLEARLY BRAGGING & PROUDLY STATING THAT MOST NFL OWNERS ARE OF JEWISH ANCESTRY ((NOT RELIGION, DON'T GET THEM CONFUSED))

ALSO ANOTHER JEWISH PUBLICATION SAYING HOW THEY OWN & RUN THE NBA. NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING PROUD OF YOUR PEOPLE'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS. BUT WHEN YOUR PEOPLE IS THE SMALLEST MINORITY GROUP IN AMERICA YET ARE 49% ALL BILLIONAIRES IN AMERICA & WORLD WIDE... PEOPLE ARE GOING TO TALK. BUT WHY TRY TO HIDE IT & WORST, DESTROY THEIR LIVELIHOOD, CAREERS, & LIVES?? ARE YOU THAT SPECIAL & POWERFUL WHERE NO ONE CAN GIVE YOU A COMPLIMENT OR THEIR RACIST FOR THAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

THIS "DELUSIONAL" DISEASE THEY'RE SPREADING THROUGH THEIR MEDIA IS PROPOSTEROUS & GIVES MORE TRUTH TO ALL THE CONSPIRACIES OUT THERE!

LIKE: "SHOW ME WHO IT IS I AM NOT ALLOWED TO CRITICIZE, & I'LL SHOW YOU WHO RULES OVER US ALL!" WITH THAT KIND OF POWER, CONTROL, & MONEY, BUT WORST OF ALL; THEIR ACTIONS & BEHAVIORS TOWARDS BLACK CELEBRITIES ... IT BEGS THE QUESTIONS.

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on August 13, 2020:

MJ Bonnette,

Do you have the stats for that midrange quote of yours? Ive been desperstely trying to find distance stats to add, but MJs are only available in his washington years. If you have that information I'd love to see it.

Mj Bonnette on August 13, 2020:

Look...you wrote an article as a lebron fan and cherry picked to make it seem hes better than jordan. The same could be done in jordans favor. Lebron for his career on game winning or tying shots is 19-94. Hows that for career context. Where does lebrons avgs rank amongst other power forwards? I can tell you jordan is number 1 in the major statistical catergories in scoring rbs stls blcks per game and second in fg%. Lebron is not #1 in any! Speaking of fg% lets put that into context. You boast on here that lebron has a better fg% at 50.4 compared to jordan at 49.7% so you say he shoots better and is more efficient from the field. Putting that into context lebron shoots every year, over 70% of his shots within 3 feet of the rim. He shoots from 34% to 37% beyond 3 feet every year of his career. Jordan shot his 50% mainly from mid range. He was the mid range assassin. I could go on but the point is you are biased for lebron and picked stats to support your argument for him. Someone just pointed out your from ohio btw. If true it all makes sense. Imo lebron isnt even better than kobe and alot of fans and former and current players agree. Just look how close they are in the recent current nba players pole. You know...the one jordan got over 70% of the votes in....who is the GOAT. You should write an argument about who is the second greatest player ever...lebron or kobe. 1st place has been sealed up a while now. These polls on here hurt to look at dont they. They all favor jordan!! That tells you something.

Nizzy on August 04, 2020:

I mean at the of the day these are all just options

Bill on July 20, 2020:

MJ played in eras where each team had one star. The only exception was his own team. Meanwhile Lebron played against Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobli, he played against Howard, Kobe, Nash and Gasol, he played agains the 2012 Thunder superteam. And most of all Curry, Thompson, Green and the SNAKE.

J on July 06, 2020:

Even without the analysis, it is a done conversation when one wears the other's number. Jordan has his own number (in creation of his own) whereas James wears his in respect to MJ. To me this discussion is clear cut determined. Dont get me wrong though I like LBJ a lot. But when talking about GOAT, there seems no more discussion there from my point of view. I even prefer Kobe over James for this comparison.

corey on June 19, 2020:

the dude is from OHIO what do yall expect of course he is biased lol

Nicholas Cook on June 19, 2020:

Biased much?

John on June 15, 2020:

Interesting article, I enjoyed it. I feel though is a bit Lebron biased by saying Jordan played in a weaker era when it's quite the opposite. The league was much stronger defensively during Jordan's era. Also, Jordan is 7-2 vs 60+ win teams, 20-7 vs 50+ win teams while Lebron is 3-4 vs 60+ win teams and 10-9 vs 50+ win teams in playoffs. Jordan in the 80s did not have a single all star helping him until the 1989-1990 season when Pippen became an all star.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on May 28, 2020:

Jordan had better free throws than James, according to your article. James needs to work on free throws. Jordan was trained by Coach Smith, a solid coach; James skipped that.

Your article says Jordan had less skilled players around him; James went and found the talent as needed. Superb management doesn't make a team better. Basketball is a team sport. It's up to the players. Jordan often said there is no "i" in "team." I don't think that will ever come from James' mouth.

Jordan left because of personal reasons, not because of financial gain. If he hadn't left, Chicago probably would have had seven rings. Leaving is not leaving. One is less dignified. Selfishness on the part of James does not equal personal tragedy. We shouldn't minimize that.

James is in the era of selfishness.

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on May 27, 2020:

Tim,

I appreciate the kind rebuttal. To be fair to your point of team hopping, LeBron played in an era of super teams and big 3s and had to go to match them, Jordan was gifted the super team because he had solid management. Not to mention he had an 8 year contract so leaving wasnt an option. He also retired and left his team twice, to me leaving is leaving. I do agree he should have worked on his free throws though.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on May 27, 2020:

This was interesting. I don't think James could handle the Bad Boys of Detroit. They really went after Jordan. Not to mention, James did something Jordan never did: team hopped. Jordan once said he never wanted to go play with people like Bird, just simply beat them. James builds super teams while Jordan made the team he was with better. Apparently, leadership was a minor consideration in your article.

Jordan was an innovator in the place where he worked; James takes the show to the highest bidder. Truly, Jordan was a much better player than James regardless of any stats.

By the way, Jordan credits Coach Dean Smith for emphasizing free throws at UNC- Chapel Hill, I wonder if James had spent more time working with people like Coach K. during those Olympic Games, would his free throw percentage had improved? I wonder if James had stepped up on defense, could he had handled Tim Duncan and that incredible Spurs dynasty. I'm not sure. But James said the Spurs was the toughest defensive team he played against. Coach Pop was no joke. I enjoyed your well written piece, living through all of these changes in the NBA.

DJ on May 19, 2020:

WTF kind of article takes a trash ESPN stat and use it to argue Lebron is more clutch? Who in their right mind would ever take Lebron to take the final shot over Jordan? WHAT?

Jimmy L. on May 19, 2020:

One other point, look at the HOFers in the Finals, Lebron is 10-20 against these guys. Plus he has losing records against all but Westbrook and Harden (1-0) and Kawhi (1-1). I would even be willing to take away Lebron's first Finals in 2007 when he was evidently outmatched. Lebron is still 10-17 against HOFers. Lebron in his prime could not hold a candle to MJ. Not to mention, Klay and Draymond are by no means shoe-ins for the HOF, nor are Rose or Billups. There are similar contemporaries in Jordan's era to these guys.

Rose = young Ron Harper or Penny,

Billups = Kevin Johnson, Tim Hardaway or Mark Price

Klay and Butler = Glen Rice, Eddie Jones or Steve Smith

Draymond = Well, he is unique and hard to truly compare to others, but similarity scores would consider Webber and Cliff Robinson to be good comparisons.

You also failed to mention, HOFers MJ faced in Eastern Conference like Divac (Lakers and Hornets), Moncrieff (Bucks), Chris Mullins (Pacers) and Mo Cheeks (Knicks) or potential HOFers that Lebron has played with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.

Jimmy L on May 19, 2020:

The rules changes are a major difference, but the biggest thing I see from your comparisons is you taking others (including ESPN's faulty "clutch" stat) and take them at face value instead of reviewing the actual numbers yourself contextually. Lebron's 34% 3PT percentage is slightly better than MJ's (33%), but he plays when the avg. is 35% whereas MJ played when it was 33%. So, Lebron is slightly worse contextually than Jordan. Lebron is in no way a better "shooter" than Jordan since Lebron regularly takes more than 1/3 of his shots within 3ft. I do not knock Lebron for taking high percentage shots, but you can say that he only exceeds MJ's shooting percentage by 0.7%, while converting so many dunks and layups. You would not say Shaq is a better shooter than Lebron since he has a better FG% while taking so many more shots within 3 ft. I would not expect you to. You also have to look at when they played to understand the context rebounds by Lebron in this era compared to Jordan in the 80s and 90s. Westbrook averages 7.1 rebounds a game without worry for repercussions in the paint, slightly less than that of Lebron at 7.4.

Now, Lebron is not nearly the defensive stopper that MJ was. Lebron regularly rests on defense, when MJ was almost always one of the best defender in the league. The situation is not even close.

Statistically, Lebron only leads MJ in three of the eight traditional statistics, 3PT% rebounds and assists. So, how is Lebron "statistically" a better player? As stated above, the 3PT% contextually by their era is in favor of MJ and the FG% is less than 1% difference. That is a negligible delta. Lebron is the better passer and is a productive rebounder, but isn't even close on FT% and points. The steals are a bit better for MJ and 50% greater than that for Lebron, the blocks are marginally better, so can look at it the same as FG% being negligibly different.

Finally, this whole idea that Lebron plays in a stronger league and has been part of the "second best team" regularly since he is losing in the Finals is ridiculous. They changed the playoff seeding and structure because of the strength of the Western Conference in the late 2000s to early 2010s. Regularly, the top two teams in the NBA played each other before the conference finals (e.g. 2006 Mavs and Spurs). Look at the 2007 (Spurs/Suns), 2014 (Spurs/Thunder), 2017 (Warriors/Spurs) and 2018 (Warriors/Rockets) Western Conference finals, the better teams were those facing off in the Western Conference. Lebron rarely faced off against difficult Eastern Conference opponents. Lebron may have faced more great dynasties in the Finals, but that is because the Bulls WERE the dynasty.

Scott L Siegel on May 18, 2020:

One major factor you conveniently left out is that the rules of the NBA have changed drastically. When MJ played, you could practically punch a player in the face and not get a foul call. Nowadays, you get called for touching another player with your fingertip. That makes a huge difference in how agressive you can be.

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on May 18, 2020:

William,

Feel free! I appreciate you sharing.

Willian Wallace on May 18, 2020:

good night friend, i'm from brazil and i loved your article, i would like to know if you give me permission to translate this content and spread only a section on my twitter, is there a problem? I will give you the credits

Cele on May 14, 2020:

Biased doesn't even begin to describe what this article is. Example, u said and I quote

"Jordan won more games and thus has a greater overall record in the Finals. On an individual performance level, however, LeBron excels in more categories than Jordan in both their regular-season careers and Finals." But when I checked the stat sheet you put up as sample, Jordan beats LeBron 6-3 in the categories. How does this reflect that LeBron excel in more categories.

Word of advice if you feel LeBron is better than Jordan that's fine by me but don't put up stats and then quote the opposite.

You said LeBron is a better all round player and to me that is not true. I know you say that because LeBron averages more rebound and assist but that doesn't make him a better all round player. Remember assist, pts and offensive rebounds all make up a player's offense while blocks, steals and defensive rebound makes up a player's defense. Jordan is a better offensively and defensively hence is better all round play than LeBron.

I can go on and on about why your article is biased but I don't think it will change your opinion (which you have a right to) so I will say enjoy your opinion but don't throw it to the masses like it's facts.

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on May 01, 2020:

Nick,

You lost me when you said Jordan didn't have a superteam.

Nick on April 30, 2020:

This article is so bias. Even the polls beg to differ. Jordan is the G.O.A.T. Jordan didn't need a superteam to win championships, while Lebron desperately needed them to win a championship. And the way Jordan just made his opponents look silly, will forever be unmatched by any player. Lebron can and will never be Jordan, no matter how he finishes his career. Just look at your polls. J.O.R.D.A.N. is the best. It's not even a close argument to put Lebum in the same sentence as Jordan. It's insulting.

Rob on April 29, 2020:

Vlade Divac is in the hall of fame. He played with magic and worthy. Michael faced 5 hall of famers in the celtics. Bird, Mchale, Johnson, Walton, Parish. Lebron pooped the bed in 2011. Michael would never let jason terry out score him or anyone out score him for an entire series. In one year MJ won the steals title, dunk title, mvp, scoring title, dpoy title and all star game mvp. Hes the better all around player. LBJ has longevity stats. He hasn't made a defensive first team in how long? Also take into account this era allows players to play a lot longer.

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on April 23, 2020:

Charlie,

The same could be said for LeBron in 2015 averaging a triple double in the finals without Kyrie or Love, or scoring 51/8/8 in 2018 when they lost. People ignore all kinds of things when downplaying LeBron's contributions. This article is about simply making the argument that Jordan isnt as untouchable as people make him out to be.

Charlie on April 22, 2020:

Jordan did lose to the Celtics , but he posted 49 and 63 against them , the bulls had Jordan and sticks with him ..your stats show him losing, but they don't put the series in context , 8th vs 1st seed, misses almost the entire season , Celtics had a great roster and Jordan forced overtime . .. numbers are nothing if not placed into context.. this is own example of many...

Stanley Daniel on April 19, 2020:

Yes Lebron is GOAT but MJ is GOD

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on April 19, 2020:

Bell31,

I actually have Bill sitting 8th all time. The rings are important, but you also have to look at the competition faced. If Jordan had faced the dynasty Spurs and Warriors 7 times would he have a perfect record? I dont think so. History shows he struggled with teams that boasted big 3s. And he never faces a big 4 besides the Celtics, who swept him twice.

Bell31 on April 19, 2020:

Interesting piece Jesse and some valid points, although I get the sense that you might get a bit lost in the details of the stats --- I think it's especially tricky comparing stats from different eras without doing an incredibly extensive analysis of all stats across eras. However, when it comes to LBJ and MJ, big picture, one has 6 titles and one has 3 titles, and given bball is such an individualist game, it's hard to go past that, especially as many of their overall stats (esp PER) are so similar (I realise the rejoinder might be the Bill Russell argument, but I don't think you even have him in your top 10 players).

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on April 11, 2020:

Felix,

I can certainly start taking a look at it! Right now i have a few other articles in the works, but i will get back to that. I plan on expanding this article in the near future!

Felix on April 11, 2020:

I would like to see an adjustment that is use in baseball taking in consideration the baseball park. I'd like to see that adjustment in terms of defense and offense between Jordan time and Lebron time. It was difficult to score 100 in those days, now it is usual to see team scoring 100 plus. Lebron scoring would be lower and Jordan scoring would be higher, the same would apply for shooting %...Can you make that analisys?

Christian Harmon on April 05, 2020:

PER takes into account every major statistic in basketball. Scoring, rebounding, steals, assists, etc... Jordan not only has a higher rating than LeBron for his career, but his playoff PER creates and even wider gap between him and LeBron. Jordan’s PER shows he was a better all-around player. Also, LeBron has never made a game tying or go ahead shot to clinch a game, while facing elimination, or even in the NBA finals in the last 24 seconds of a game. Jordan is 10-17.

David on April 04, 2020:

Lebron has actually beat most of the hall of famers in the playoffs jordan didnt

Hu on February 27, 2020:

look do not get me wrong but lebron james is the goat,in all the finals in which he appeared in which are 9 most of them the reason why he lost was because he was unevenly matched with teams.2007 was going against a superteam that were spurs,mavericks it was his first year,they were still learning to get along.And in the Warriors matchup it was unfair

Kristaps on February 22, 2020:

Jordan won the chip with a 55 win team. LeBron went to the finals with 20 win teams

TRON on January 24, 2020:

Simple fact Lebron has had to recruit and build his team full of allstars to win a ring MJ won six with 1 allstar teammate. not to mention you saying todays allstars dont compare with those of mj 's era (witch I agree with) sounds like MJ played in a much more talented leage

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on January 23, 2020:

Tron,

The idea that you think Pippen and Hakeem are equal to Love and Kyrie or just AD is astounding. Wade is the only teammate LeBron has had within their range of talent. Let alone to say both of them would have been similar to what LeBron has had.

TRON on January 23, 2020:

Can U imagine Jordan Pippen and lets say Ewing or Hakeem on the same team the way Lebron has had it the last 10 yrs they wouldnt lose

Ddfsg on January 17, 2020:

Lebron is the greatest player of all time.

I love this debate on December 26, 2019:

It’s going to come down to how Lebron does in the postseason from now until he retires. No more rings and that’s a pretty rough argument. If he gets one or more it gets harder to debate.

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on December 25, 2019:

Christmas,

By your same logic LeBron is building a legacy just as big, if not bigger, with his own shoe line, production company, and school for underprivileged kids. And I wouldnt day Jordan owning a team helps, because hes managed it terribly since he took over.

Merry Christmas!

Up early on Christmas on December 25, 2019:

I can't believe this is still being debated. I grew up a Jordan fan so you know where my vote lies. i will say that Jordan's legacy and continued relevance to the game by him being an owner makes it very difficult for Lebron to surpass hi. Koby retied and began faded out of this debate immediately. Michael changed the game with his play on the court and his branding of the Jordan name. A LEGEND is a bigger than life story. With Jordan's well deserved legendary status, it is very unlikely that the Easter bunny will ever surpass Santa Claus. Merry Christmas everyone. Oh, and for all Kobe fans, remember, there are tons of kids who still believe in the tooth fairly :)

Danaman25 on December 08, 2019:

Jesse Unk.... I am not comparing Phil Jackson to Eric Spoelstra. There is a clear gap in their legendary status at this time. My only point is with regards to playing with a legendary coaches. Jordan's ability to play at a high level had nothing to do with Phil Jackson. Jackson can take praise for creating the triangle offence, which helped Jordan. The 'Jordan Rules' was something which the triangle offence broke down. But again, this has nothing to do with Jordan's ability. The idea that LeBron is self taught and Jordan had great coaches is an excuse to try and make out that LeBron is superior. That is far from true

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on December 02, 2019:

Youre comparing Phil Jackson to Eric Spoelstra. Had Spoelstra won after LeBron, the way Jackson did when he went on to acquire 11 rings, people would absolutely say Spoelstra had great coaches. LeBron has never played for an elite coach early or late in their career. Phil Jackson created an offense that changed the game. Whether he was known at the time or not doesn't matter. That would be like saying Bill Belichick isn't a great coach because he didn't do anything before Brady and has never not had Brady playing. He is who history shows he is, whether it was known at the time or not.

Danaman25 on December 02, 2019:

Jesse Unk....He excelled but you cannot call him a legend or a great coach at that time. He was still unproven. Erik Spoelstra has won titles with Lebron, yet no one calls him a legend after winning his two titles. They say Lebron won it for him (with Wade and Bosh). Yet like, Jordan, Lebron had no title until going meeting up with the Erik Spoelstra.

i think Jackson knew he had a winning formula and a one in a life time chance of working with Jordan. Pippen had a big part to play it all though, but eve though he excelled, using the excuse of a legendary coach cannot apply when Jordan won his titles. Jackson was nobody as a coach at that time

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on December 02, 2019:

Danaman,

Just because he hadn't made a name for himself yet doesn't mean he wasn't a good coach. He excelled whenever he had talent in his day.

Danaman25 on December 02, 2019:

@Mitch Ross...Jordan had a great coach? Not at the time. Phil Jackson did not win nothing until he join Chicago. He was a legend by the time he went to LA, but he won nothing pre-Jordan. Jordan did not win pre-Jackson either, but Jordan's level of play was already at a high level. His peers already regarded him as better than them, but they knew that they had the better team. He just needed other players to step up (Pippen), and he benefitted from Jackson's philosophy.

Mitch Ross on November 29, 2019:

Lebron is basically self taught; Jordan had great coaches!

SammyMitch on July 03, 2019:

Sorry, but I’m lost on the first breakdown of “Le Bron vs Michael Jordan Stats”. Even if I take those stats at face value (which I won’t), I still see Jordan at minimum ahead in 5 categories as opposed to 4, and then I’m giving the blocks to Jordan (a guy who’s 6 foot 6 and averaging the same number of blocks per game as a guy who’s 6 foot 8 is superior in that category, so if we have to split them they’re going to Jordan.

I’ve got a particular gripe with the stat of “Rebounds” though. Of all those stats, the one that can be most easily padded are “Defensive Rebounds”. C’mon let’s face it, a massive proportion of “Defensive” rebounds are just collecting the ball in free space while the opposing team are already down the other end setting up their defence. If we look at “Offensive” Rebounds, which are always contested, Jordan is substantially ahead with 1.6 vs 1.2 per game. So here we have a 6-6 guy who is taking down more “Offensive” Rebounds than a guy who’s 6-8. I’m giving Rebounds as a stat to Jordan!!

And why is it anyway that the only stats that anyone seems to focus on in these assessments are the first three, after which they always drift off into the same vague statement of “Le Bron is clearly a better all round player”. All around what?? There’s only two ends of the court and Jordan blocks more, he steals more, he scores more, he rebounds offensively more. Are we really saying that because of those flimsy Assists and Defensive Rebound stats that James is a better all round player??!!

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on July 01, 2019:

AJ,

Jordan had Scottie and Horace every time he faced the Pistons and had Charles Oakley the first time they met. You can say he had no help with Boston, but he should have at least been winning a game here or there. LeBron was missing the playoffs when he had no teammates and was 18 years old. He was leading his cast of bad teammates to the Finals at age 22 where he beat the recent Champion Pistons singlehandedly.

AJ on July 01, 2019:

Who did Jordan have on his team against the Celtics and Pistons dynastys the first couple of years?? I'll answer....a bunch of coke heads. For as good as you say Lebron makes his teams better, Lebron didn't even make the playoffs till his 3rd year!

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on June 14, 2019:

Rickgrimes,

You mean big games where he leads in go ahead shots made and averaged a triple double in the finals? Or games where he led both teams in all statistical categories?

Rickgrimes on June 14, 2019:

Super biased analysis ill ever read..way off to compare with mj, in mj era lebron will be an average player only like d'wilkins..period..lebron aint no clutch especially in the big games..

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on May 23, 2019:

John,

I do love the Mamba! I have Shaq above him though. Im not sure he has 5 rings without him.

John Skulavik on May 23, 2019:

I like Kobe Bryant... watched them all from Baylor to Lebron... I think physically and mentally Bryant is the GOAT.

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on October 18, 2018:

The Watcher, not only did i list all the stats you just said, but i even said jordan was better in all those areas. You cant argue jordan would end things when his stats drop in multiple areas in game 7s and his record in elimination games is a losing one. Analytics tell the story better than your memory. Stats dont lie. Also, learn to read. I never said Jordan had a better team. My article literally says he had a less impressive lineup on his side.

The Watcher on October 11, 2018:

I still had this window open when I went back to my iPad tonight and I glanced down to what you wrote. Did you just infer that Durant is better than Jordan? The dude who choked away a 3-1 lead and then went to play for the team who he choked it away against? Are you out of your f***ing mind? Lol I’m not mad, really... it’s just pretty absurd and tells me you didn’t watch the NBA in those days. Let me tell you something, son... replace Durant with Jordan and the Warriors aren’t going to the Finals that year. Jordan puts his foot on their neck and ends that sucka! :) C’mon, man! Get real!

The Watcher on October 09, 2018:

I’ve seen both dudes play. Jordan was more dominant. Period. You can try and skew the argument in LBJ’s favor all you want. During the last five minutes of ball games, I’ve seen LBJ disappear in ways that MJ never did. Period. Case in point... 2010 Playoffs against the Celtics, 2011 Finals against the Mavs, 2013 Finals against the Spurs in Game 6 where he turned the ball over 3 times in the final 5 minutes of the game to hand the Spurs the trophy before they chocked it away by missing free throws and not getting a key rebound (why wasn’t Duncan on the floor? I’ll never know) - anyway, check the tape. And here are some facts... Grant/Pippen/Rodman combined for 10 All-Star appearances. Love/Irving/Wade/Bosh have 33.... so no, LBJ did not have less help than MJ. Want some more facts? I knew that you would! MJ - 6 Championships to LBJ’s 3, Finals MVPs 6 to 3, League MVPs 5 to 4, scoring titles 10 to 1, Defensive Player of the Year 1 to 0, steals titles 3 to 0. I mean, you can’t argue it away... Jordan was better. On top of all that, his prime efficiency stats were also better. Period. Done and done. Give it up, millennials! Lol

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on June 24, 2018:

Alphadogg I'd read my other article on MJ. You'd be surprised how few quality opponents Jordan faced and beat. His record against hall of fame players is abysmal. Most of his wins against HOFers were compiled against Barkley and Ewing, the ringless wonders. He rarely beat a HOF opponent in their prime. Lebron hasn't played in as physical of a league, but the athleticism of this league is far beyond what Jordan faced. If KD had played in Jordan's era we wouldn't even be talking about MJ as the GOAT. They'd be answerless for players like him.

Alphadogg16 on June 23, 2018:

After watching LBJ lose yet another NBA Finals, and this hub popped up again, I thought Id strengthen my argument on MJ. The evolution of today's game is set up for LBJ to dominate. If MJ played in today's game, he would still dominate. MJ never had the spacing LBJ has, 3 point shooters weren't as good or abundant as they are now, defense is basically outlawed, no hand checking, physicality is rarely allowed, with LBJ's size, speed and athleticism he's virtually unstoppable. MJ never had stretch 4 & 5's to pull the rim protector away from the basket leaving the lane open to do as he pleased, and MJ never had the offensive fire power LBJ has had along side him in Kyrie, Wade, Love, Bosh. The best MJ had was Pippen, who initially was a defensive stopper, his offensive was slowly developed. The 8 straight finals appearances are grossly over rated, the eastern conference has been like the CBA since the fall of the Celtics and D Rose led Bulls, LBJ doesn't even face a real team until he gets to the finals....and hence why the 3-6 record. LBJ is the most physically gifted player ever....but not even close to being the GOAT.

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on June 13, 2018:

Thanks Jim! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'd appreciate it if you shared it to some of your Jordan and Lebron loving friends!

Jim Sippel on June 13, 2018:

Great article and awesome stastical analysis of both players and the league. I've been wanting to this myself for sometime glad you beat me to it.

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on June 12, 2018:

Jeffrey, the facts are certainly revealing when you look at numbers and not nostalgia.

Jeffrey on June 12, 2018:

I didnt realize Jordan was 1-5 against the Celtics and Pistons. People always talk about how he had to play those great guys, and he never even won! He was beating up Patrick Ewing and Barkley who arent even top 20 guys! Good article!

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on June 11, 2018:

Anytime Kid. I'll be updating the article this week to include lebrons stats from this past season and a few more things I've found since the past few weeks.

Kid on June 08, 2018:

Thank you now I have knowlegde

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on July 18, 2017:

I wouldn't say this is LeBron biased at all. In fact most of the stats favor him. The only pro LeBron arguments are the 2nd level wins, overall stats, and competition. Everything else points to Jordan or a stalemate.

Nice article, but Lebron biased on July 17, 2017:

Are you kidding me. MJ played with 1 all star and won 6 titles. Lebron keeps complaining he needs more help and that his team is top heavy as bleep. MJ never did any recruiting or complaining, imagine if he did what Lebron does, they would have won every year getting all the best players and forcing management to cater to his every thought or desire.

Jesse Unk (author) from Ohio on July 01, 2017:

You're correct in that Horace Grant isn't in the Hall of Fame yet, but he most likely will be at some point similar to many of the players LeBron played with. Absolutely not a first ballot, but will probably join at some point in his career. I'd also disagree with your statement that LeBron lacks a killer instinct. His first Finals appearance he was triple teamed by a Spurs team that knew he had no help. He absolutely choked twice in Miami, but since he carried a depleted Cavs team to 6 his first year back in Cleveland, brought them back from a 3-1 deficit for a ring, and averaged a triple double last season. Kobe was known for Killer instinct, and even he lost twice. I think winning matters at all levels of the game. Like I stated above, if only rings mattered the greatest ever would be Bill Russell.

Kevin W from Texas on June 29, 2017:

While this is a pretty good analysis and growing up in Chicago and being a Bulls fan since before MJ, When Artis Gilmore and Orlando Woolridge were the Alphas, my opinion might be a little biased. I agree that Lebron is an all around better player, makes the players around him better, however since when do moral victories count? winning more in the playoffs versus winning in the Finals, when it counts the most. I think MJ is the Goat simply because of his heart, his will to win, that "Killer intinct", something Lebron does not have/never had. Their were rules made up to stop MJ, hand checking, manhandling was perfectly legal and he was mugged on the court pretty much every night. Lebron has had much more talent around him in Miami and this second stint with Cleveland and I'm pretty sure Horace Grant is not in the Hall of Fame.

Ron Unk on June 28, 2017:

Good analysis

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