Why LeBron Still Isn’t Michael
LeBron James is a man among boys. Physical beast. Skill set from the basketball Gods. Great scorer. Awesome passer. Plays four or five positions. Super hard worker to balance the unreal talent. He is a different player than Michael Jordan, but no matter how you slice it, he still isn’t as great as Jordan was. Here are five reasons why LeBron, despite his current dominance and greatness, still isn’t MJ:
- Rings. Jordan has six. LeBron has one. Legacies are built with rings, especially in basketball when one player is the difference. It’s that simple.
- Defense. LeBron, unlike Carmelo Anthony and other superstars, is a great defender. But most of it comes from pure athleticism and overwhelming players with his insane body type. Jordan had better hands, better instincts and was much better on the ball. Also, Jordan took few plays off defensively. LeBron takes many plays off defensively.
- Jordan’s lost years. Players didn’t skip years in school or school entirely during Jordan’s time at North Carolina in the early 1980’s. Jordan lost three years of NBA basketball by playing in college and then retired twice, once to play baseball in honor of his father (1993-94) and again to really retire (1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-2001; only to come back again with Washington). The first was Jordan’s choice of course, but it still counts in the numbers and titles and MVP awards lost. Playing in college for three years and the retirement years together combine for roughly 14,000 points, two titles minimum and two MVP awards minimum lost. That point total is the low end as well. Think if Jordan played just one college season or gulp, NONE! He scored 2,313 points in his rookie 1984-85 season. He would have scored most likely at least 1,200-1,600 points each season the two years before that if he didn’t go to school. Incredible. If MJ simply never retired twice, we could be talking about a 50,000-point scorer. As it is, LeBron might not catch Jordan’s 32,292 point total because of…
- Age. Half of LeBron’s game is his physical ability to get to the rim. He isn’t a great jump shooter like Jordan. So he has nine seasons to score a ton of points. When his body breaks down from age, will he still be able to score 25 a night? Unlikely. Jordan always could because he was such a tremendous outside player. Jordan, while nothing compared to his prime years with Chicago, still averaged 22.9 and 20.0 points a game at age 38 and 39 in Washington! Air Jordan became Floor Jordan. LeBron likely won’t be able to do this.
- The Brand. Being a pioneer and a legend off the court matters. LeBron could ink 1,000 deals from now to the end of his career but they aren’t Nike, Air Jordan and Gatorade. “Be Like Mike” beats anything LeBron has ever done or ever will do. Magic and Bird saved the NBA. Jordan took it from there to a level no one expected. MJ carried the NBA image in the United States and abroad, especially during the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona with “The Dream Team.”
LeBron James is special. But he isn’t MIchael Jordan and will never be Michael Jordan. In fact, no one will ever again be Michael Jordan.
By: Mike Lindsley, “Mid-Day with Mike,” 1-4, Yankees pre/post game host on 104.5 The Team ESPN Radio. Follow him on Twitter @MikeLSports.