LeBron James — who on Saturday night likely will move past Kobe Bryant into third on the all-time NBA scoring list — has reached the point in his legendary career that he only can be compared to other legends.
Specifically, Michael Jordan.
“We play in different eras. He’s an unbelievable player. He’s one of the best players in the world, if not the best player in the world. I know its a natural tendency to compare eras to eras and it’s going to continue to happen. I’m a fan of his, I love watching him play. As you can see, our league is starting to expand on very talented players. I think he’s made his mark, he will continue to do so. But when you start the comparisons, I think it is what it is. It’s just a stand-up measurement. I take it with a grain of salt. He’s a heck of a basketball player without a doubt.”
Does anyone think the ultra-competitive Jordan actually believes that? Of course not, we saw his Hall of Fame speech. But for fun, let’s take MJ’s words at face value.
Jordan is right. Both that it’s nearly impossible to compare NBA players across eras and that people will continue to do it anyway.
Jordan was a better one-on-one scorer playing in an era where the rules pushed the game toward isolation basketball and playing through contact. LeBron is a much better passer with better court vision in an era where driving-and-kicking to the corner, or making a skip-pass against an overloaded defense, is the smarter basketball play. Jordan broke open barriers as a player who is a brand off the court, but LeBron expanded that in a social-media era and added in a social conscience.
Both are legendary players, both are products of their generation, and both are Mount Rushmore players. Which player you think is the better player says more about you, your age, and your preferred style of play than it does LeBron or Jordan.
But please, commence the arguing in the comments.