This article was originally written on sportsfromlucas.blogspot.com, the blog that became BustaSports.
“Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to play the game, but I may go as far as to say LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game.” That was a quote by Michael Jordan’s basketball sidekick and former teammate Scottie Pippen. When Pippen said this many people were outraged, and strongly disagreed. I thought Pippen was crazy at first, but as compared the two players I started to see where he’s coming from. I believe that Michael’s ability in crunch time and competitiveness brings him above LeBron, but the comparison is close. Jordan’s a better shooter and winner (by far), while LeBron’s a better passer and rebounder (by far). If LeBron can figure out his clutch problems, which he will throughout his career, he will become the best ever. Here’s the comparison right now.
Lebron: Career stats: 27.7 ppg — .482 FG% — .331 3P%
Early in LeBron’s career with the Cavs he had no help on the offensive end. He was relied on almost every time down the floor which resulted in him taking some bad shots. Even with the lack of help he managed to shoot .474 FG% with the Caveliers in his seven years there. He has improved his FG % every year but one throughout his career, including shooting over 50% in the last three seasons. This year James is on pace to have a better FG% then Jordan ever had in his career, and a 3 point percentage Jordan only had better then once in his career.
Jordan: Career stats: 30.1 ppg — .497 FG% — .327 3P%
Michael Jordan was a natural scorer. He averaged over 30 points eight times during his career while LeBron has done that just twice. Jordan was a whole step above his competition during his career, getting ten regular season scoring titles.
Analysis: Jordan has the edge because of the amount of points he averaged, but if LeBron can continue to shoot well over 50% for the rest of his career he will surpass Jordan in this comparison.
Score: 10-9 Jordan
LeBron:Career stats: 7.0 Apg — 3.34 Turnovers per game
LeBron is an exceptional passer. He always gets his teammates involved, and uses his intimidation of defenders to bring double teams and then send the ball out for the open bucket. He makes his teammates better (i.e Mo Williams, Anthony Parker), and is one of the few stars ever to honestly be “team first” when it comes to scoring. If he feels someone else has the hot hand he’ll feed them instead of demanding he take the shot. LeBron averaged 8.6 Apg (assists per game) in his last season with the Cavs which is absolutely amazing, because he did that with a team that lost 26 games in a row without him the next season. The turnovers often come because he’s trying to set up his teammates a little too much.
Jordan: Career stats: 5.3 Apg — 2.73 Turnovers PG
Micheal Jordan wasn’t a bad passer, but he wasn’t a great one either. 5.3 assists per game would be an impressive amount an for the average shooting guard, but not for a guy like Jordan. MJ played almost every minute of every game he played in and had the ball in his hands for most of the time during the games. When you always have the ball and have a guy like Scottie Pippen on your team you should average more then 5.3 Apg.
Analysis: LeBron is a much better passer then Jordan. Although he now has wade to pass to, Jordan had Pippen, so it evens out. LeBron gets his teamates involved more, and is better at making his teammates look good then Jordan was. Jordan’s 2.73 turnovers per game compared to LeBron’s 3.34 is impressive, but that is largely due to how Jordan didn’t pass as much as LeBron.
Score: 10-7 LeBron
LeBron: Career stats/achievements: 1.7 Steals per game — 0.8 Blocks per game — 3 All NBA Defense Team –
Defensively just looking at the stats above LeBron’s defense does not seem too impressive. But when you think about that LeBron either has to play defense as an undersized power forward, or is defending the opponents best player, it seems he’s doing a bit of a better job. LeBron’s steals and blocks go up come playoff time, as he’s really shut down opponents star players in recent playoff series’.
Jordan: Career stats/achievements: 2.35 steals per game — 0.8 Blocks per game — 9 All NBA Defense Team — 1 Defensive Player of the Year –
Michael Jordan made a huge impact on the game with his scoring, but also with his defense. He had a knack for getting steals. He did an unbelievable job of picking the pockets of the players he was guarding, and the guys he was guarding were often the games best. Jordan often turned defense into offense with those steals, which was why he had the ability to bring his team back in any game.
Analysis: Both these players are world class defenders, and they were both experts at certain aspects of defending. Jordan was the master at forcing turnovers and turning offense into defense. LeBron was the best at just plain stopping his man. He didn’t force as many turnovers as Jordan but he did play as good defense, shown by his higher Defensive Rating then Jordan.
Score: 10-9 Jordan
LeBron: Career stats: 7.1 Rebounds per game
When LeBron entered the NBA it was thought that rebounding would be a large problem with him, but that certainly has not been the case. LeBron has improved his rebounds per game every year since he came to the NBA. The lack of a real center on the Heat has forced LeBron to take on more of a rebounding role, which he has embraced. LeBron is averaging 8.1 rebounds per game this year, which is very impressive due to the fact that he’s a small forward.
Jordan: Career stats: 6.2 Rebounds per game
Unlike LeBron Michael Jordans Rebounds per game went down every season since his rookie season. Whether it was lack of rebounding effort or not having the energy to rebound, Jordan never came close to the 8 rebound per game pace he set as a rookie. As Jordans career he virtually stopped rebounding and starting using all his energy on defense and scoring instead of rebounding.
Analysis: LeBron may be slightly taller then Jordan but that’s not why he’s such a better rebounder. LeBron decided to put effort into rebounding for his team, while Jordan didn’t nearly as much. It’s as simple as that.
Score: 10-6 LeBron
LeBron: Career stats: .635 regular season win perc — .608% playoff win perc.
LeBrons biggest problem has been the ability to win big games. Eight times LeBron has brought his team to the playoffs with high hopes, and eight times LeBron’s team has lost in the playoffs. His teams have lost twice in the finals, including the 2010-11 finals when he played awfully in the fourth quarter of the games. When LeBron was faced with a big shot in the finals he deferred to his teammates instead of taking the big shot. Except for the finals in 2010-11 LeBron has actually been a clutch player throughout his career, but the fact that he played so badly on the biggest stage cannot be denied.
Jordan: Career stats: .659 regular season win perc — .665 playoff win perc.
Michael Jordan is a winner, plain and simple. 6 NBA championships and 6 finals MVP awards should show just how good Michael Jordan was when it came to big games. Jordan hit 25 game winners throughout his career, including many in the playoffs that were the reason his team was able to have the success they had.
Analysis: . Michael Jordan has more titles, more games won, and has more finals MVP’s than LeBron. Michael Jordan has had success in the end of big games, while LeBron hasn’t. This doesn’t meen LeBron isn’t a winner though. He still has a very good .635% regular season win percentage and .608% playoff win percentage. He has been the reason his team has one so many games but he just needs to perform better on the big stage to become widely known as a winer.
Score: 10-4 Jordan
43-42 Jordan– If LeBron can improve his performance in the clutch and win some championships, which he very likely will, he will become the best ever.