James vs. Jordan

Friday, May 22, 2015

Jordan or LeBron? This seems to be the great debate among the talking heads in sports right now, so I guess I might as well join in as well.

Both players are tremendous athletes. Michael Jordan took a hiatus from basketball to go play baseball and there is no doubt in my mind LeBron James could have made something out of himself had he wanted to play football.

It took both players some time in the league before they were able to get their first championship. It took Jordan seven years and James nine. Jordan won three titles before he turned 31 and if James wins the title this year, he can match that mark.

Weighing 30 pounds more and standing two inches taller than Jordan, James has the ability to guard virtually anyone on the court, but Jordan makes up for that in quickness.

Both players have had issues off the court, which have given the public reasons to dislike both players. For Jordan, it was gambling and for James it was his choice to desert his hometown of Cleveland and go to Miami. Jordan has plenty of fans, though. I mean there are those out there who believe a 52-year old Jordan could beat James in a game of 1-on-1. And for James, most of his fans rushed back after he decided to return to Cleveland. There are three things that separate the two players as things stand right now, however.

1. Supporting cast: Yes, Jordan had Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and John Paxson, but James has had Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and don't forget about Ray Allen for his first two championships. Now he is working alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, although Love is out for the remainder of the playoffs.

2. Game-winning moments: If I had my choice of basketball players to make a game-winning decision as time was winding down in a game, I would take Jordan any day of the week. He would shoot the ball if he needed to, but he was also willing to make the pass to his teammates if they had a better look, something James continues to work on.

3. Incompleteness: Fair or unfair, I can't get over the fact that Jordan sat out a full year, in his prime, to play baseball. Then after coming back for four years, he retired for three more years before coming back to play for the Washington Wizards, and he didn't play that badly in those three years. Had Jordan dedicated himself fully to basketball, James would still have a long way to go before this debate would even come up.

Does James deserve to be in the "Mount Rushmore" of basketball talk? Absolutely. But to compare him to Jordan at this stage in his career is absurd.

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