The Michael Jordan vs Lebron James Debate is a Disgrace


Logan Winser and Alex Nannetti

With the 2017 NBA finals starting, Lebron James will be leading the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors. For the seventh straight season, Lebron has represented the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. With his consistent success and superstar ability, many sports writers like Analyst Nick Wright have said Lebron is the greatest player in NBA history. This has caused a debate with sportswriters: who is the superior basketball player, Lebron James or Michael Jordan?

In 2009, Bleacher Report posted a 15-page article of why Jordan will forever be the greatest player of all time. The thought of anyone being better than him angered people in the NBA community. Now, just eight years later, Bleacher Report posted an article on how Lebron James is better than Michael Jordan. So the question is, how did we get here?

For starters, this will be Lebron’s seventh straight NBA finals. He is one of two people to ever accomplish this, along with teammate for seven years James Jones. In game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Lebron passed MJ as the leading scorer in playoffs history. In 2016, Lebron beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals who in the regular season has the greatest record in NBA history with 73-9. So the question of the greatest of all time in NBA history is becoming a debate because of Lebron James’ recent success.

The entire argument has become over saturated, repetitive, and old. You can’t turn on ESPN, FOX sports, or any sports podcast without some time being dedicated to this debate.

Our society has a habit of needing someone to be the best. There can’t be a group of people that are great examples of the gold standard in that subject or activity. There always has to be one person that is above all. In the NFL, the debate over Tom Brady and Joe Montana lasted years, until Brady won his fifth super bowl in 2017, ending the debate. Now the NBA where the only way the debate could end if Lebron wins more championships that Jordan, which would be seven. Until then, the debate on which who is better is completely based on hypothetical.

Neither player played at the same time, so people who argue against either player have them play at the same time and say “Who would do better in the 90s with that Chicago Bulls team” or “How would MJ do in the weak Eastern Conference in 2017”. There is no way to compare them because they played in two different leagues.

When Jordan played, he played in league where the game was dominated in the paint, the game was aggressive, where points came at a premium, and triple digit points only happened in shootouts and overtime games. Lebron is playing in league where whoever can shoot a three-pointer concisely is elite, if you make contact there will be a foul, and teams are averaging 102 points in a game. It is impossible to know how either player would’ve played in either time period.

The statement that no one seems to be making is simply, why can’t they both be known as the greatest basketball players in history? Both players have dominated the league they play in. There is no argument in the time period they play in who is the best. MJ was known as the best every year he played, and the same argument can be made for Lebron. Both players were amazing shot makers, Jordan with his signature step back, and Lebron with his fade aways. Both are some of the greatest passers in history, distributing the ball to their teammates and making tight throws. Both are up there for the greatest defenders in NBA history, especially around the arc. And both are some of the most clutch players ever to play. When the game comes down the final seconds, MJ and Lebron always found a way to lead their team to victory.

So instead of the argument is about who is better, maybe people should try to look at this situation in a different way.

The question should be, are MJ and Lebron the greatest players ever to play the sport of basketball?