Let me start by saying I think this discussion is down right ridiculous. I think the people who dare put Lebron James in the same sentence as Michael Jordan should be ashamed of themselves. I am simply here to defend Michael Jordan and his legacy. As usual, I have to educate those who can not educate themselves. It seems that fans and media personnel of this era live in the moment too much(thanks Facebook, thanks Twitter). It’s like people who saw Michael Jordan play forget just how dominant he was. And the people who never saw him play don’t do the proper research to understand and pay homage to his greatness. All they know is what is right in front of their face. Now I love having a thought provoking debate, but don’t you think we’re overreacting to Lebron’s accomplishments? NO? Not even a little bit? Okay, well let’s agree to disagree. I’m going to explain why all the Lebron fanatics are wrong.
We as responsible journalists must give Lebron all the credit he is due. He is the best player in the world right now. His combination of size, strength, leaping ability, and quickness are unmatched. The stretch he’s going through has never been seen before. Through his last six games his offensive efficiency is off the charts, averaging 30.8 points per game while shooting an amazing 72% from the field. As an all around talent we all know how talented Lebron is, and when it comes time for him to hang ’em up, I’m sure he will end up being one of the top 5 greatest players of all time(he has the potential to be the 2nd best of all-time, but not yet). With all that being said, we still need to bring all of the Jordan comparisons to a tire screeching halt. For those of you who never saw MJ play, or for those who are having selective memory loss, let me remind you just how GREAT he was. Michael Jordan played in 15 NBA seasons, one being cut short due to injury and another due to his first retirement. His list of accolades is too long to mention every one, so I will do my best to highlight the most impressive ones. MJ was the NBA MVP 5 times and also won 10 scoring titles. He won rookie of the year, defensive player of the year, and was the leagues leader in steals 3 separate times. Last but not least, he appeared in 6 NBA Finals where he won all 6 and was named the Finals MVP in all 6. Not only did he win every Finals he ever played in, but the opposition never even took his greatness to a decisive game 7. Michael was also one of the best on ball defenders the league has ever seen. The list keeps going and going, but I think we all understand that Michael Jordan is the best basketball player that ever played. Period. The things that didn’t show up on the stat sheet were the things we really loved about Michael. His incredible will to win, his uncanny trash talk during games, and his incredible ability to hit game winning shots in the clutch. Those attributes are part of what made Michael so great. By the way, just imagine if Michael never took almost two years off in the middle of his prime to play baseball and never retired the 2nd time. I think he’d have at least 2 more championship trophies in his trophy room at home. I’m just saying, unfortunately we’ll never know what could have happened.
Now, the problem is ever since MJ finished his final game a decade ago everyone has been searching for the heir to his thrown. For Lebron, this all started back in Akron, Ohio when the media donned him as the Next MJ. This task has always put too much pressure on Lebron and forced him to live up to a standard rather than be himself. During the early part of his career, that pressure brought about insecurities and highlighted his mental weakness. For an athlete of his stature to care what people think about him is astonishing to me. From the pressure of carrying a mediocre Cavaliers squad to the NBA Finals(and get swept) to his departure to South Beach, he has shown that the pressure was too much to handle. He seems to finally be finding his stride, and we are witnessing Lebron in his prime. Lebron’s ceiling is to become the 2nd best player of all time. To do that he needs to win at least 4 or more titles and at least 3 or more MVP’s. However, I still think to be compared to MJ you need to be “the guy” and not use such a talented supporting cast to win titles. Most people think I’m being ridiculous but if you want to be compared to the best, your greatness needs to stick out like a sore thumb. And just like Kobe, you can’t be the best who ever did it when you play with the likes of Shaq. Sorry.
The bottom line is we live in the society of the “knee-jerk reaction”. This has caused the sports world to act and react to everything in a matter of seconds. It’s good because we can stay current and up to date with important events, but it’s bad because we jump to conclusions too quickly when it comes to athletes, teams, and coaches. Everyone needs to pump the brakes with this Lebron vs. MJ talk, and just let Lebron be Lebron. I promise you will enjoy his achievements much more, and we will also realize that there has always been and will always be 1 Michael Jordan.
P.S. Happy 50th Birthday Michael!!
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