Friday, November 2, 2012

Lebron James vs. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is a name synonmus with greatness. During his era of play MJ Left an indelible mark on the game of basketball on all levels. Whether its hitting a game winning shot vs. Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas to win the national championship or dropping a playoff record 63 points vs. Boston Celtics in the Boston record his airiness never seized too amaze us. While Mj’s accomplishments may be staggering he had no easy road to the NBA. Michaels hoop dreams began in North Carolina Emsley A. Laney high school where he was told he was to short to play basketball at the varsity level at (5,11). MJ Fueled by fire Jordan channeled his determination into becoming the leading scorer on the JV team accumulating several 40 point games. A season after proving his coach dead wrong Jordan grew over 4 inches over the summer and earned a spot on the varsity team as a sophomore. MJ would average 20 Points a game over the next 3 years in high school. He earned a spot in the prestigious McDonalds all-American game. All these accomplishments  drew the attention of the legendary UNC Tar heels where Jordan earned a scholarship too play basketball in chapel hill. He left his mark winning ACC Freshman of the year honors and hitting the game winning shot in the 1982 national championship vs. Georgetown Hoyas. In the 1984 NBA Draft the Chicago Bulls made Jordan’s hoop dreams a reality, little did they now how lucky they had just gotten.

Another guy who took a completely different route to the NBA and became one of the premier talents and cultural figures in the game today is Lebron James. This is a guy who athletically is a freak of nature. When in middle school Lebron was able too dominate the competition  he was a man amongst boys being able too dunk while in middle school. When King James got too St.Vincent-St.Marys he dominated basketball at the high school level. He was the 1st sophomore to be named “Mr. Basketball” in the state of Ohio. He would accomplish “Mr. Basketball” honors 3 times in his high school career while also leading the Irish to 3 state championships. They would have to get St.Mary to play in larger venues such as the Cleveland convocation center playing in front of crowds all because they wanted too see the teenage basketball phenom Lebron James. The high school games he played like the ones vs. power house Oak Hill were televised nationally by Espn. He had all the hype coming into the league and a Nike endorsement to back it up. He would skip college and declare for the 2003 NBA Draft at 19 years of age. He would be selected 1st overall by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. LBJ Automatically reached cult like status when they put up a billboard  with James doing his powder ritual on the Sherwin Williams headquarters building with a black and white Nike Sign that read “ We are all Witness” . Lebron James was the city of Cleveland’s crown jewel and he was the heart and soul of Cavalier basketball.

Now although MJ and Lebron took different paths too the league they have both financially and culturally impacted the game more then any players in the history of the game. In the 1983-84 season the Chicago Bulls only averaged 6,365 fans. In the 1984 NBA draft they would select Jordan 3rd overall out of UNC.  His leaping ability and explosiveness to the rim electrified the city of Chicago. Attendance had steadily increased in Chicago and by the 1987-1988 season the bulls averaged a then franchise high 18,061 fans per game. Jordan wasn’t only selling out in the windy city everybody wanted a chance too see Jordan in action. Pat Williams a marketing guru and author of “How to be like Jordan” life lessons about basketball once said a San Francisco businessman purchased Golden State Warriors Season tickets just so he could see MJ play once a year in person. When Mike stopped playing he gave up the season tickets. The Bulls recorded 610 consecutive sellouts at home over a 13 year period (11/20/87-11/7/00).  MJ Transcended ticket sales he created a whole new market and spawned a whole new generation when in 1984 he and Nike teamed up to release Jordan’s 1st signature basketball shoes the Air Jordan 1’s. Nike Air Jordan was really the 1st massive player designed shoe to come out. Jordan paved the way for players like Charles Barkley, Larry Johnson,  Shawn Kemp to have their own signature shoes. The Jordan brand took off in now in 2012 Jordan brand apparel brings in 1 Billion dollars in revenue per year. In tapping into an untapped market and creating his own lane  and one for Lebron James  in the future Michael Jordan changed the game from a business perspective 

Now while MJ culturally and financially impacted basketball like no other player has Lebron James has made an impact and a name for himself globally as well. Lebron has a laundry list of endorsements such as Nike, Mcdonalds, Bubblicious,. LBJ also has had a song made for his “More then a game” documentary titled “Forever” which featured rap heavyweights Drake,Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Eminem. The song was a hit selling over 3,000,000 copies and reaching as high as #2 on the billboard charts. Lebron was making an impact on the court, TV and now radio. He is more then a marketing tool he is a ratings difference maker. The 2011 NBA Finals was the most viewed since 2000. Also the 2011 NBA Eastern conference finals game 7 generated a 9.1 rating the highest for any NBA game televised on cable. So LBJ had an impact on NBA business in his own right.

 Jordan is noted for winning 6 championships and never losing in the finals but many people forget his failures. As great as Jordan proved to be in the playoffs he and Scottie Pippen could never get passed Isaiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman and the Chuck Daly coached Detroit Pistons. In a regular season game on national television Jordan had an offensive explosion going for 59 points at the Palace leadings the Bulls to 112-110 victory. After that and another 61 point outburst Chuck Daly drew frustrated with Jordan’s scoring binges and created the “Jordan Rules” which forced him into operating from uncomfortable spots forcing him to dribble left which is his weaker side. They would use spacing in man to man sets to triple team MJ when he would attempt to penetrate the middle of the floor. This smothering defense applied by the likes of Joe Dumars, Bill Lambeer,  and Dennis Rodman forced MJ to either take shots, take hard borderline flagrant fouls or pass the ball and force someone else to beat them. In applying the Jordan Rules Detroit could successfully protect the paint and this strategically tactic proved to be valuable as the Pistons would defeat the Bulls 3 straight years in the playoffs. Jordan was scrutinized people said he didn’t have what it takes to beat the Pistons in a 7 game series.  At one point people questioned if Michael would ever win a championship and he was labled as a choke artist.

Michael Jordan's most trying times would come in the form of the Detroit Pistons. for three years the "Bad Boys" had sent the young upstart Bulls home in frustration to the dismay of Michael Jordan. From 1988-90 the Pistons defeated Chicago. Although the Bulls had inched just a bit  closer every year towrds beating them it just wasn't enough. Then the 1991 Easten Conference finals came along and no longer were the Bulls going to be bullied by the Pistons in fact  The Bulls had swept the Detroit and MJ finally had the Monkey off his back. He played a great series averaging 28 points per game along with 5 rebounds 2 steals 7 assists on 52% shooting from the field. Chicago would go on to face Magic and the Lakers but it didn't real matter Michael and this Bulls team now had supreme and unshakable confidnece and would make quick work of L.A in 5 games to Capture the 1st tittle in Chicago Bulls history. This would be the start of what would become one of the Greatest dynasty's of all-time with MJ leading the way.

Nothing says Chicago Bulls basketball like this dynamic duo. Whether you loved or hated the Bulls you knew about the classic combo of Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan. They were the foundation for a dynasty you had 2 of the most dynamic defenders in the league at the time on one team. When they finally got over the hurdle that was the Detroit Pistons it gave them unshakeable confidence and they would remain the team to beat for years to come. With Role playes such as John Paxson, Steve Kerr, B.j Armstrong, Horce Grant, Bill Cartwright, Luc longley etc over the years it wouldn't really matter who the the role players were MJ was going to put them in a postion to succeed. If he said "we are not losing tonight" then that meant at the end of 4 quarters and sometimes sudden death that the Bulls more times then would get the win. In the 1987 season the Bulls Drafted Scottie Pippen and finally they had a dynamic duo that could lead an elite team and grow together. The struggles against the Pistons allowed Pippen and Jordan to grow up through adversity and when they finally climbed that hurdle in 1991 it would begin an unfoegttable era in NBA history. The Bulls were the NBA's marquee team in the 90's because of these 2 extaoridnary players it allowed the bulls to compete in the East and win 6 championshps. Arena's across the nation from Miami to Seattle were selling out to see MJ, Pippen and the Bulls come to town. I could sit here all day and tell you all day on how great Pippen and Jordan were together but i'll let the numbers do the talking for me. Here are the combined numbers for MJ and Pip.

  • 21 All-star Selections
  • 4 All- Star Game MVP's
  • 51,232 Points
  • 14,166 Rebounds
  • 19 All NBA Defensive teams
  • 4 time league leaders in steals
  • 69 win season (1996-97)
  • 6 championships  (90-93) (95-98)

Ever since the day Lebron made the decsion this duo has been compared to Pippen and Jordan which i think makes sense but is stupid because i think that Wade and Lebron are better then the other duo. As good as Scottie was we all knew Michael was better but when you talk about Wade and Lebron it's different. Scottie was an All-star but he was never a threat for best player in the league you can make the argument through many times in Wade's career that he was better then Lebron, that was never a question with Pippen because Michael was always better. So based on talent Wade and Lebron are better because of the versatility of LBJ and Wade's ability to close out games,they just impact the gameplan for opposing coaches in ways Pip and MJ never did. With all that said will The Miami Heat today become a dynasty like the Chicago Bulls in the 90's? They took it all last season vs. OKC LBJ is stil 5 rings away from Jordan and Wade is 4. This years Heat team has as much talent if not more then thoe 90's Bulls teams. You look at the talent outside of Lebron and Wade and you got guys like Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers,Chris Bosh and then you add guys like Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis it just makes the best team in the league that much better. If this team is healthy for the most part i could see Wade and Lebron touching 6 rings or more. Here are the combined numbers for both of these 2 future hall of famers.

  • 34,035 points
  • 7,963 rebounds
  • 3 All-star game MVP's
  • 7 All NBA defensive teams
  • 2 scoring tittles
  • 2 Finals MVP's (Wade-2006 James-2012)
  • 3 Championships (Wade-2006,2012 James(2012)
  • 16 All-Star selections

Lebron James who wore #23 in Cleveland and was a Jordan fan himself has received more criticism then anybody in NBA history. This being for 2 reasons only

1. Lebron’s inability to closeout in the 4th quarter and perceived lack of mental toughness
 2. July 9th 2010 Lebron sent shockwaves through the basketball world where he announced on ESPN  to the world he would “Take his talents to south beach” and sign with the Miami Heat.

Cleveland was heart broken and moments later were seen burning is Cavaliers Jerseys, T-Shirts and anything else that had to do with him. It was kind of like that seen in the movie Bruce Almighty  where the whole city is on fire and people are in a frenzy. After a Celebration at the American Airlines where Lebron announced that the Miami Heat would win “Not one, Not two, Three, Not four, Not five, Not six, Not seven championships” . whether he was joking or not he had proclaimed the Heat a Dynasty before the roster was even filled out or before they played a single game.  This made Lebron and his new team public enemy #1 in every opposing arena in the NBA. When he made his return to Cleveland for his 1st game with the Cavaliers though the hostility was raised to another level. When he came back he was met by what many call the most hostile environment EVER for a regular season game in NBA history. Seemingly the whole city of Cleveland wanted to let James forget how they felt. You can tell they had spent lots of time in perpetration for this day conjuring up signs like “Lechoke” “Quitness” and my personal favorite “The lying king”. All the hostility in the world couldn’t have stopped LBJ that night. He silenced the whole Quicken Loans Arena crowd dropping 38 points en rout to a dominating victory for himself and his teammates . The Heat would enter the 2011 NBA playoffs as the 2nd seed in the eastern conference. They made quick work of the 76ers, Celtics and Bulls all in 5 game series. Lebron made winning plays and big time shots throughout those 3 rounds and was playing some of the best basketball of his career. When the Heat took on the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals Lebron was trying to get a 8 year monkey off his back. The monkey wasn’t going anywhere Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks would defeat the Miami Heat in 6 games and win the 2011 NBA Finals

Criticism on Lebron grew to new found heights after the loss. I’m sure the loss ate him up inside and in the offseason he spent countless hours working on his post game with 2 time Champion and hall of famer Hakeem Olajuwon . Implementing this into his game made him more lethal then he already was.

When the 66 game condensed season started Lebron James was a model of consistency and picked up his 3rd MVP Award. He averaged 27 points per game with 7 rebounds 6 assists on 53% shooting. When the Heat came into the 2012 NBA Playoffs Lebron once again had something to prove and you could see it on his face. The 1st round featured little drama with the Heat defeating the Knicks in 5 Games. The 2nd round presented much more of a challenge vs. the Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and the upstart Indiana Pacers. The Heat would win Game 1 but in the process would lose key player Chris Bosh for the whole series to a groin injury. 2 losses to the Pacers which included a 94-75 Blowout had critics once again talking and Lebron and the Heat with their backs against the walls. May 20th 2012 would be one of the defining moments in Lebron’s postseason run in 2012. Coming in down 2-1 vs. the Pacers at the Conseco Field house Lebron had arguably one of his best game ever. Big time Players make Big time plays in Big games and LBJ had a historic performance dropping 40 points 18 rebounds with 9 assists on 51% shooting leading the Miami Heat to a game 5 road win to tie the series up 2-2. The Heat would win the next 2 games by double digits and go on to face the rival Boston Celtics.

The series began with the Miami Heat protecting home court winning game 1 and 2. When the series got back to Boston Rajon Rondo and company changed the whole momentum of the series. The Heat lost both games to the Celtics in Boston including a nail bitter in game 4 91-93. When the series shifted to Miami for game 5 The Heat would lose 94-90 behind the performances of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Mikael Pietrus. So the stage was set game 6 at the TD Garden Celtics up 3-2 with a chance to clinch a trip to the NBA Finals with the weight of the world on Lebron’s shoulders. Many people (Including Myself) thought this was just going to be another scenario for Lebron to choke in and that the series was over…But the king had other plans. In an arena that has never treated him well vs. a team that has derailed his title hopes many times Lebron rose up in the face of adversity. Playing with a possessed look the whole game he had one of the greatest pressure performances in NBA history. 45 Points 15 Rebounds and 5 Assists on 73% shooting. That’s ridiculous to put up those type of numbers with that kind of pressure on you. It wasn’t like he was just living in the paint either he was making an array of shots. Jab step jumpers, to fade away bank shots, floaters in traffic, pull up 3’s emphatic dunks. The only thing he didn’t do that night was sell peanuts. For a guy who’s been labeled a choke artist his whole career this was the turning point and leading Miami to a 98-79 victory was monumental in that series. The series would end in a double digit victory in Game 7 and the Heat would move onto the 2012 NBA Finals too take on Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook an the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Heat had battled and overcame more adversity then any other team to get to this point where they lost last year. The question was still asked Lebron finish the job? After a game 1 loss 105-94 those questioned grew even greater. But the next 4 games Lebron was the best player on the floor. He lead the Heat to 4 victories and captured the 2nd Championship in franchise history. More importantly for him the monkey was off his back and he was a champion. From game 2 to 5 James averages looked like this

29 Points per game 11 Rebounds 8 assists 47 FG %

Including a triple double in game 7
(26 points 11 rebounds 13 assists)

He was named MVP and presented the trophy by NBA Legend Bill Russell when asked about how he felt when the clock hit 0:00 in game 7 and he knew he was a champion he Immediately  responded saying “IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME”. He raised the trophy high and proud and the 1st championship of Lebron’s career was captured in his 9th season.

The work didn’t stop with just a finals ring and MVP, the Olympics were right around the corner and Lebron was trying to accomplish something only Michael Jordan had accomplished. He won the  Regular Season MVP, an NBA Finals, Finals MVP and a Gold Medal all in the same season since 1992. He is on top of the basketball world but still has a long way to to catch Jordan according to Dwayne Wade saying the sky’s the limit.

Before the Lebron even captured his 1st title many NBA Legends and executives had some choice words for the king both positive and negative. In an ESPN Interview Hall of Famer and Milwaukee Bucks great Oscar Robertson gave Lebron high praise. When asked if he is better then Michael Jordan he said “Lebron is in a class by himself” . WOW!!! Those are some bold words coming from a guy who was once and still is regarded by many to be the greatest basketball player of all-time. Jerry West “The Logo” and Laker great says “I don’t know if I ever seen a better athlete play this game, He is a great teammate, I think he has a chance to go down as the greatest player to ever play this game”. 2 of the best players this game has ever seen acknowledged the fact that Lebron has all the talent in the world to be better then Michael Jordan. Charles Barkley though had some negative comments about Lebron after taking his “Talents” to South Beach. Barkley said “He’ll never be as great as Jordan this clearly takes him out the conversation, he can win as much as he wants to”. Barkley recently just said that he thinks Lebroncould be better then Jordan in a recent episode of NBA TV's "open court" saying that"I do think he can be better than Michael"I thought I would never compare somebody to Michael Jordan. But this guy, LeBron James, he does everything well. Michael did everything well. LeBron James is just bigger, stronger, faster. That's the only difference."  Whether you agree with the “Big O” and Jerry West or Barkley or not there is no denying his talent and ability to challenge Jordan for the top spot.

At the end of this season was the end of Lebron’s 9th season in the NBA  where he captured his 1st NBA Championship at 27 years of age. Michael Jordan Did not get his 1st ring until he was 27 years old but in the 1st 9 years here is how both of these elite’s stack up vs. each other

Michael Jordan                                                           Lebron James

   32 Points per game                                                      28 Points per game
   6 Assists                                                                            7 Assists
   6 Rebounds                                                                       7 Rebounds
   3 Steals                                                                             2 Steals
   1 block                                                                             1 Block
   50 FG %                                                                            48 FG %

As you can see through his 1st 9 seasons in the league his airness Michael Jordan had better numbers then Lebron even the injury in the 1985-86 season, Most people don't average that in but i did for the sake of this ongoing debate to prove what i believe to be true that Michael Jordan is better then Lebron. Lebron is a great player no doubt about it but if people are comparing him and MJ Fairly at this moment comparing first 9 seasons between the two you can clearly see that MJ Through his first 9 years of basketball is slightly better then Lebron James.  People always say that "LBJ is a much better passer then MJ" the stats say he is only 1 assist better through his first 9 years. Although the stats say they are even because Jordan had 3 Championships to Lebron's one coming this year the edge goes to MJ. Lebron is still fairly young at 27 years old so he is gonna have time to catch MJ but for now you can't say that Lebron is better you can only do what many legends have said by saying that Lebron can be just as good if not better then Jordan.
There are many ways to dissect who is better or who you think is better but we won’t know entirely who is better until Lebron is done playing basketball. In my opinion I think Lebron will fall just short of Jordan because MJ was just to Dominant To the point where he couldn't even play 1 on 5 against the other team being the reason for the illegal offense rule.He never lost in the finals. He won Back to back to back championships twice and could have had 8 if he didn’t retire. As great as LBJ Is I just think the way MJ played is going to make it hard for  Lebron to really be accepted as the best ever because he broke a mold and sent many trends and was a game changer but I’ll tell you one thing if there is anybody who will give him a run for his money its Lebron. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m the furthest thing from a Lebron fan and could tell you that i hated the man so for me to even say that is big. I do know one thing though and that it’s going to be great to watch him chase after MJ’s greatness. I always said that Michael Jordan was the most talented player in the game combined the highest level of fitness, You can pretty much say the same for Lebron.So who's better? I'll leave that up to you hope this helps.

"Ever since i was a kid, i was always the winner"-Lebron James

"I'm not out there sweating for three hours everyday just to find out what it feels like to sweat"-Michael Jordan

"Ask me to play,I'll play
Ask me to  shoot,I'll shoot
Ask me to pass,i'll pass
Ask me to steal,block out,sacrifice,lead,dominate
ANYTHING"-Lebron James

"If you look up the definition of greatness in the dictionary, it will say Michael Jordan"-Elgin Baylor

"Don't be afraid of failure,this is the way to succeed"-Lebron James
"I've missed more then 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over again in my life and that's why i succeed"-Michael Jordan

"Lebron is in a class by himself"-Oscar Robertson


1 comment:

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