Here is my take on this whole LeBron versus Jordan thing. I will start with the fact I was born and raised in Cleveland so it is hard for me to stay biased. However, I will do my best to make points for both sides.LeBron can never surpass Jordan on legacy, no one can. MJ did too many things first. Jordan was the first to look beyond being a multimillion dollar athlete and become a global icon. Mike was the first, well, the shoes. Do I need to say more about that? Jordan cemented his legacy doing those things.
Jordan also lived in an era without social media. I know some may laugh at that being a factor, but it is. Jordan spoke after games to beat reporters and the local press ran with his comments in the morning paper. If LeBron says anything, anywhere it is posted all over the internet within minutes. The media today makes it near impossible to step away for the sport and spend time with family and friends.
During the season the Cavs had almost a week between games so the Cavs brass gave them a few days off with no practice. LeBron used it to get out of Cleveland (Which had a foot of snow on the ground) and go to Miami and work out with D-Wade. Everyone in the world had something to say about it. Did Jordan ever take a few days to vacation during the season? How the hell would we know? People didn’t follow him around like a lost dog and blog everything he does.
I will be the first to admit that LeBron doesn’t always use social media in correct ways. Cryptic tweets about teammates, that stupid banana boat thing, I think there was even a DM situation with a young girl. Just imagine the field day people would have today with Jordan and his gambling.
6-0 in the finals is hard to argue against. Yes, it is true that Jordan didn’t make it out of the second round until Pippen joined the team. However, he was losing to All-Time great Celtics teams and the Bad Boy Pistons. It wasn’t just adding Pippen that got them over the hump. Jordan recognized a hole in his game against the very physical Pistons, so he adjusted by putting on 30 pounds of muscle in the offseason.
After that, he had everything needed to be and beat the best. Yes, LeBron is 3-4 in the finals, but most people give him a pass for 07. That team did not belong there. The same cannot be said about his 2 finals losses in Miami. That team was stacked. Injuries derailed the Cavs in his first year back in Cleveland, however, I am not confident they would have won at full strength. But to be considered the GOAT you cannot have a sub .500 record in the finals. He still has enough time to change that. However, the road will not be easy.
Leaving for Miami. That is what gives people the most pause or ammo when it comes to this debate. It is tough to look the past, however, the team he left won 61 games, after he was gone they won 19. Jordan did leave after the first 3-peat, the Bulls won 55 games and lost in game 7 in the second round without him. That right there shows the difference between the supporting staff for each guy. LeBron teamed up with 2 other All-Stars (and most likely HOFer’s) and won 2 of 4 championships. This is a black eye on his career. But to the people saying it was Wade’s team, don’t forget that LeBron won finals MVP in both championship years. So even though I will not give him a pass on it, I can understand it.
Coming back to Cleveland. People that say he did it only to get younger talent around him are just wrong. When he first decided to come back all he had was a young undisciplined Kyrie and a recently drafted Andrew Wiggins. Sure, it may have been known that they were going to use Wiggins to try and get K-Love, remember, deals fall through all the time. Plus even with Love, that team had no playoff experience and LeBron doesn’t have years to wait while they progress.
He left a Miami team that just lost in the finals to go to a team that hadn’t sniffed the playoffs since he left. Bosh’s blood clots were not known at that time and Wade has always been an injury risk. LeBron came home anyway, to “win one for the Land.” He accomplished his goal and brought a champion to Cleveland for the first time in 52 years. This is something Jordan cannot touch, the Bears won in 85. So it is not like Chicago was starving for one.
Comparing era’s is always a difficult thing to do. In my opinion, there were more top caliber players during Jordan’s era. However, the teams were spread more evenly then. Yes, the Jazz had two sure fire HOFer’s. The rest of the league was spread pretty even. I am making this statement during Jordan’s championship years. The Celtics were done by then and the Pistons were breaking apart. During Jordan’s second 3-peat the Bulls were the only team that had three HOFer’s on the same team. Well, I take that back. Houston had Hakeem, Barkley and Drexler.
Now during LeBron’s era, the players are teaming up and creating super teams. No, it is not LeBron’s fault this happened, blame Boston. LeBron does have an easier road to the finals than Jordan did, but in those finals, he is also facing better teams than Jordan did.
Competitive edge has to go to Jordan. The man never wanted to lose at anything. Keep in mind when he retired he cited lack of motivation and a desire to go out on a high note as the reasons behind his decision. So for everyone that complains the LeBron takes games off or doesn’t look interested in the regular season, don’t look past the fact Jordan took more games off. He just did it at one time. He did abandon his team but was given a pass for it. By the time Pippen joined the team, Jordan was already a leader.
This is a large separation between the two. It took LeBron going to Miami, learning from Wade, and coming back to Cleveland before he truly became a leader. Jordan’s leadership style was basically publicly shaming people into playing better. Not normally a great style, but he made it work. LeBron’s leadership style? I still cannot answer that. He has never played for a great coach to teach him how to lead.
Commitment to the community goes to LeBron and it is not even close. Jordan did his best to never say anything that would turn a single person against him. Now LeBron is no Muhammed Ali but he is far more active and vocal than Jordan. LeBron gives more to NE Ohio than anyone ever has. Plus he sends more Akron kids to college than they have scholarships.
All in all, Jordan is still the GOAT. But this is like comparing oranges to tangerines. Close but still not the same. With finals win over a super stacked GS team with Durant will swing this a lot closer.
Thanks for taking a look. Now how do I get it out for public consumption?