Monday 24th November 2014,
The Hoop Doctors

MJ vs. Kobe vs. Lebron

allenmoll September 11, 2009 Allen Moll 37 Comments

Jordan

September 11, 2009 – Allen Moll

Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen is a regular columnist for thehoopdoctors.com, Bleacherreport.com, Fanhuddle.com as a NY Knicks and Wizards correspondent, and his own blog, Hoops Haven.

It is a shame that today’s younger generation will grow up not having seen the G.O.A.T, Michael Jordan play, and thinking that Lebron or Kobe are the greatest players of All Time. I read recently that in a poll given to young adults in college, when asked to name the Greatest NBA Player of All Time, 78% responded either Lebron James or Kobe Bryant.Even if Kobe plays into his late 30′s and wins another two titles to equal Mike’s six, he still cannot match the sheer amazing competitiveness and absolute astronomical numbers that “His Airness” compiled. Lebron, who has had one of the best starts of any player in NBA history so far in terms of stats, really needs to get going on the championship front since he is still at zero when it comes to winning.

Now before I get piledriven for being a MJ fan and a Kobe and Lebron hater, let me just say that the numbers don’t lie. I am a big fan of both current players since I am a huge basketball superfan and admire and respect their talents while watching them on the tube or in person. I get it, Kobe and Lebron are the two most dynamic players of the current generation, but while they are phenominal players, they’re not in the same league as MJ, Wilt, or Kareem.

With Jordan’s upcoming induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, I decided to compare two players who are widely regarded as the the best current players in the game, James’ and Bryant’s careers, to MJ’s at the same stages.

Lebron James vs Michael Jordan through 6 seasons:


Lebron James

27.5 Scoring Avg 12993 pts 7.0 reb/gm 6.7 ast/gm 1.8 stl/gm .738%FT .471%FG .328%3PT 40.6 minutes/gm

Accolades - 1 MVP(’09), 5 time All-Star, 2 time All-Star MVP, Rookie of Year(’04), 3 time All NBA 1st Team, 1 time NBA All Defensive Team, 1 Scoring Title

4 Playoff Appearances(29.4 pts, 8.3 reb, 7.3 ast in 60 games) 1 Finals Appearance, 2 Conference Finals Appearances, 0 NBA Titles

Rookie Season20.9 ppg, 5.5 rebs, 5.9 ast
Best Season
Scoring – 30.0 pts(’07-’08) Rebounding – 7.9 reb(’07-’08) Assists – 7.2 ast(’08-’09)

Michael Jordan

31.5 Scoring Avg 14016 pts 5.9 reb/gm 5.7 ast/gm 2.7 stl/gm .847%FT .509%FG .218%3PT 37.2 minutes/gm

Accolades1 MVP(’88), 6 time All-Star, 1 time All-Star MVP, Rookie of Year(’85), 4 time All NBA 1st Team, 3 time NBA All Defensive Team, 1 time Defensive Player of Year(’89), 4 Scoring Titles, 2 Steals Titles
6 Playoff Appearances(36.1 pts, 6.7 reb, 6.6 ast in 53 games) 0 Finals Appearances, 2 Conference Finals Appearances, 0 NBA Titles

Rookie Season28.2 ppg, 4.5 rebs, 5.9 ast
Best SeasonScoring37.1 pts(’86-’87) Rebounding8.0 reb(’88-’89) Assists8.0 ast(’88-’89)

Conclusion

Lebron does have an edge in Rebounding Average(7.0 to 5.9), Assists per Game(6.7 to 5.7) and 3PT%(.328 to .218), as well as making it to the Finals once but Jordan was better overall by leading in most categories. He scored more than 1000 points more than Lebron in barely more than 5 seasons since Jordan played in only 18 games plus the playoffs in his second season(’85-’86), due to injury. While Lebron proves to be a better rebounder and distributor through 6 seasons, Jordan had better individual seasons in each category by averaging 8 rebounds and 8 assists during the ’88-’89 season, which James hasn’t done to this point. Jordan had a higher scoring average in 4 of his first 6 seasons than Lebron’s highest single season best scoring average(30.0 in ’07-’08), while Jordan topped out at an amazing 37.1 ppg in year 3. One distinct edge for James is in the 3 PT shooting category. Jordan didn’t shoot over .200% until his 5th season and wasn’t a part of his game until later, while the trifecta was obviously in James’ arsenal from the beginning by shooting over .300% in 5 of 6 seasons. One other side note to consider is that during Jordan’s first 6 seasons, he put up his numbers against players were All-Time greats and Hall of Famers in Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and Isaiah Thomas. In my opinion, Jordan would have won more MVP Awards if he had played in a different era, especially in today’s NBA where defense seems to be a lost art.

Kobe Bryant vs Michael Jordan through 13 seasons:


Kobe Bryant

25.1 Scoring Avg 23820 pts 5.3 reb/gm 4.6 ast/gm 1.5 stl/gm .840%FT .455%FG .341%3PT 36.4 minutes/gm

Accolades1 MVP(’07-’08), 1 Finals MVP, 11 time All-Star, 3 time All-Star Game MVP, 7 time All NBA 1st team, 9 time All Defensive Team, 2 Scoring Titles


12 Playoff Appearances(25.0 pts, 5.1 rebs, 4.7 ast in 175 games) 6 Finals Appearances, 7 Conference Finals, 4 NBA Titles

Rookie Season7.6 ppg, 1.9 rebs, 1.3 ast
Best SeasonScoring – (’05-’06)35.4 pts Rebounding6.9 reb(’02-’03) Assists - 6.0(’04-’05)

Michael Jordan

31.4 Scoring Avg 29277pts 6.3 reb/gm 5.5 ast/gm 2.4 stl/gm .840%FT .500%FG .330%3PT 38.5 minutes/gm

Accolades5 MVP’s(’88, ’91, ’92, ’96, ’98), 6 Finals MVP’s, 12 time All-Star, 3 time All-Star Game MVP, 10 time All NBA 1st Team, 9 time All Defensive Team, 1 time Defensive Player of Year(’88), Rookie of Year(’85), 10 Scoring Titles, 3 Steals Titles

13 Playoff Appearances(33.4 pts, 6.4 rebs, 5.7 ast in 179 games) 6 Finals Appearances, 8 Conference Finals Appearances, 6 NBA Titles

Rookie Season – 28.2 ppg, 4.5 rebs, 5.9 ast
Best Season
Scoring37.1 pts(’86-’87) Rebounding8.0 reb(’88-’89) Assists8.0 ast(’88-’89)

Conclusion

Although this was discussed previously on this site in our Nextology of MJ Series(http://thehoopdoctors.com/2009/03/the-nextology-of-michael-jordan-part-viii-kobe-bryant/), the numbers prove that while Kobe is probably the player of the 2000′s, MJ is superior in almost every category. While Jordan put up tons of shots from day 1 in Chicago, Kobe was brought along more slowly as he didn’t average more than 20 ppg until his 4th season. This accounts for MJ scoring more than 5,000 more points during these 13 seasons. Kobe also had another superstar in Shaquille O’Neal, who was challenging for scoring titles and MVP Awards, to play alongside and take some pressure off of winning a title, and being the man in LA. Case in point that Shaq won 3 Finals MVP’s during their 3 peat in the early 2000′s, and Kobe finally won his Finals MVP last season, without Shaq. Even though Kobe and Jordan both appeared on the NBA All Defensive Team, MJ topped him by winning the Defensive POY Award in 1988. The most glaring difference between the two comes in Scoring Titles (where Jordan’s 10 blow away Kobe’s 2) and MVP Awards(Jordan 5 to Kobe’s 1). Also while both players have proven to be winners be totaling 10 NBA Titles between them, Jordan was probably the best postseason performer of All-Time by averaging over 33 ppg, which is more than 8 ppg higher than Bryant.

I know that I am probably biased because I have seen virtually every Chicago Bulls game during his playing days, but to me, it is no contest, that MJ deserves to be declared at least the better player in a comparison with today’s top stars.

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  • Anmol

    Dear Allen,

    FUCKIN AMEN

  • Chase Noll

    Well you talk about Kobe being brought along more slowly. Compare the numbers by age starting with 21 throught 30 and you will see that in this case, Jordan is the one more slowly brought along being that he had 3 years of college grooming and Kobe had 3 at the highest level. Jordan still carries an overwhelming amount of statistical catagories. Except 3pt shooting which Kobe is much better and FT shooting is about the same. The only time Kobe gets close to Jordan in totals is in the playoffs where L.A. had deeper runs when Kobe was young than did Jordan’s Bulls. Also if you break down each players effiency per minute to accout for the distortion of OT games and such, Jordan leads every catagory. Can you imagine that numbers Kobe would have amass to end his career just to equal Jordan. And keep in mind, just like Jordan, Kobe’s numbers will dip towards the end. Had Jordan not been a Wiz, Kobe would have even more work ahead. And yes I’m a Kobe hater, but I try to stay unbiased. People talk about how these numbers aren’t even comparable considering the “evolution of basketball” or players are better today, but I believe that a players stats are proportional with everyone elses throughout the history of the game because, true, players get better by jumping off the blocks Jordan laid down just as he did with Dr. J but so did thier competition. That is why the numbers are the tell tell sign and Kobe just doesnt have the numbers no matter mine or anyone’s opinion.

    • Christopher Brandão

      I agree, also take jame’s first 7 seasons and compare that to Jordans its not that far off at all. but we have to wait cuz i love jordan and james comes second. but ill tell you something i just can not see james not winning 4 in a row. I think he can 4 in a row or more. And he would have to do that to be considered greater than jordan, FOr me he doesnt have to win 4+ in a row but for the rest of the idiot world, when you really think about it. Imagine James with 4+ championships in a row. damn now that will be debate for jordan

    • Christopher Brandão

      I agree, also take jame’s first 7 seasons and compare that to Jordans its not that far off at all. but we have to wait cuz i love jordan and james comes second. but ill tell you something i just can not see james not winning 4 in a row. I think he can 4 in a row or more. And he would have to do that to be considered greater than jordan, FOr me he doesnt have to win 4+ in a row but for the rest of the idiot world, when you really think about it. Imagine James with 4+ championships in a row. damn now that will be debate for jordan

  • Paterick

    Looks like Lebron shits on Jordan considering Jordan has ’0 Titles.’ …You’re good at your job.

  • http://thehoopdoctors.com allenmoll

    Paterick,

    You’re right that in the “Titles” category after their first six seasons, Jordan and Lebron are equal, but where you get Lebron shitting on Jordan…………….I don’t get. As I stated in the article, although Lebron has overall better stats in rebs/gm, ast/gm and 3 pt shooting, Jordan leads everything else……..and had better individual seasons in rebs and assists at 8.0 in each per game. Unless Lebron averages 40+ pts/gm, and wins 7 titles and 7 Finals MVP’s in the next 9 seasons, Jordan’s numbers will still be better………..Good points Chase……..Glad u r on my side, Anmol

    Thanks for reading guys.

    • Boone

      @allenmoll, Also Allen, you forgot to look at blocked shots. Jordan averaged more blocks per game than Lebron, even though Lebron is 2 inches taller. Good article, just wanted to add this point.

  • nicco

    Deep sigh. Not again.

    Look, Jordan was one of the best to ever do it and I would have no problem with the argument. But please, let’s not let the argument to live and die with statistics. Although the author would have you believe that numbers don’t lie, there is, in fact, a famous claim: there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

    Number One: Take the argument about defense. Jordan is probably a better defender than Bryant but the argument should not rest on the fact that he won the DPOY a grand total of one time to Kobe’s nill. I mean, c’mon. By the time Bryant is done in this here game, he is going to match or surpass Jordan in All Defensive First Teams. This suggests that, in any given year, Bryant could just as well have earned a DPOY award. What I am saying is that it is called the Defensive Player of the Year award for a reason: BECAUSE YOU WERE THE BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THAT YEAR. 1989 (IIRC) in Jordan’s case. Again, I think that Jordan is probably the better defender but that argument is weak sause.

    Number Two: Why do you bring up Shaq but not mention Pippen? I mean, c’mon. You’d think that Pippen was just some role player the way Jordan fans go on and not a hall-of-famer in his own right. And, like I said before, Jordan was probably a better defender than Bryant but there were times were Jordan was not even the second best defender on his team. Between Pippen’s long arms and Rodman’s rebounding, say I’m lying. Jordan was undoubtably the man on his team but he does not win six championships without Pippen and Bryant just won one without Shaq. That argument is tired and just expired. Next.

    Number Three. The Rookie stats are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. It is, in fact, a cheap ploy that the author uses to stick it to Bryant just because Bryant was a “late bloomer” (although IIRC, Bryant as 17 when he started in the NBA and Jordan was, well, not) and, by definition, will never have another rookie year. We are talking about WHO IS THE BETTER PLAYER is and you’re talking about rookie seasons. Yawn. Let’s instead talk about Bryant nailing 13 three-pointers in a game, or scoring 8 point in a game, or outscoring an entire team 62-61 by the third quarter, or–wait, wait, those are things that Bryant did that Jordan couldn’t. We can’t have that. Let’s instead only focus on things that Jordan did that Bryant couldn’t, like scoring 33 points a game during his rookie season. Moving on.

    Number Four: And I know this is probably going to go over the author’s head because you cannot quantify this, but era’s matter. The best defender against Jordan was Gary Payton. I love GP, but he was a toothpick next to Jordan. Bryant had to deal with Battier, Artest, Bowen. Bryant is asked to defend players like Wade and LBJ. The same cannot be said of Jordan. Unless you are prepared to argue that Bill Russel is a better player than Jordan–which of course you are not–put into perspective the relevance of statistics and awards with eras. Is it harder to average 35 points in a season nowawadays or back in the day? I know, I know, you can’t answer that with a number but do realize that the NBA ain’t no fantasy sport.

    • Rob El Nica

      1) Gary payton Jordan’s best defender??? Payton was an awesome defender but like you would say, C’MON!
      Ever heard of Dumars? too skinny? Ok how about Rodman (pistons)? did i just go back too far in time? how about a more recent one. How about we go just a little far back to a couple years ago to the “out of the blue, coming from nowhere super human mutation strength ultra athletic and ridiculously tall athletes era” of today? Didn’t jordan drop 30+, 40+ and 50+ point games at the age of 39-40 after not playing at the NBA level FOR 3 YEARS on guys like Garnett? Surrounded by mediocrity, and K.Brown (arguably the biggest bust in NBA history) as his starter? How about defenders like Artest? Marion? K.Martin etc…Just to name a few!!!
      By the all star break, i think ’01 or ’02 he had identical numbers to kobe in ppg, aps, rpg even fg%!! before he blew out his knees and his numbers deflated…

      2) HOW IN THE WORLD CAN YOU COMPARE SHAQ TO PIPPEN??? Shaq is considered one of the most dominating offensive forces in basketball history. Pippen avg’d 16-18+ ppg for his career!! I’m not putting Pippen down, I’m putting your argument down. The role, influence  and impact that Shap had on his teams compared to Pippen is COMPLETELY LOPSIDED IN SHAQ’S FAVOR.

      3) During the lakers first 3 peat, kobe would average mediocre numbers in the finals, i.e very poor fg%… He had guys like Karl Malone (top 3 forward all time), G. Payton (9 time all def first team), Shaq (top 3 center ALL TIME).. Kobe didn’t LEAD his teams to 5 rings,,, he LEAD his teams to TWO….

  • http://thehoopdoctors.com allenmoll

    nicco,
    First, thanks for reading. Now for your points.
    #1 – Your arguement that Kobe is better because he WILL be on more All Defense Teams by the time he retires is all speculative. That is the same as saying that Lebron will be better because he WILL win more scoring titles. You can’t argue future possibilities. And DPOY is a big deal for most players. While Kobe and Jordan were both great man to man defenders, Jordan was much better at patrolling the passing lanes as evidence of his almost 1 steal/gm better average. I’l cover #4 while I’m at it. The fact that this whole article is about comparing era’s totally went over YOUR head. True it is tough, but your arguement that Battier, Artest, and Bowen are better than Payton, Dennis Johnson, Mo Cheeks, and Joe Dumars, who are all HOF caliber players is laughable. Jordan was asked to defend players like Magic, Erving, Bird, and Drexler, again all HOF players. Your arguement that the current crop of stars are better than those of the 80′s and 90′s is downright laughable. I’m sure everyone else laughed as well.
    #3 – I, the author never termed Bryant a “late bloomer”. It is a fact that Kobe did not have the opportunities of Jordan as a rookie. If he did, I doubt he would have put up the same numbers against lesser competition.

    I’ll be waiting to read your article on “Whether it was easier to avg 35 points NOWAWADAYS(funny) or back in the day.”

  • nicco

    For the record, not once did I argue hat Bryant is better than Jordan. And you’ve completely missed the point if you think that I was suggest that because Bryant will earn more All-NBAs that Jordan that it therefore makes Bryant a better player. My whole beef with your article is that shovels out statistics as though they were the end all when they really are not.

    If you want to argue that the NBA was better defensively during Jordan’s era (even though Jordan was able to score 35 points a game by driving to the lane all day) then go make that point, but do so with context and conviction not with stats alone. If you want to make the argument that Jordan had to guard Magic and Bird (as opposed the the younger, stronger and/or faster LBJ and Wade) so there, then make that argument for real. Don’t just give me stats and walk away.

    Also, I know that you didn’t term Bryant a late bloomer but therein lies the problem. You didn’t. You just posted rookie stats for the sole purpose of padding your argument. And aren’t you now speculating when you suggest that Bryant couldn’t have done what Jordan did? Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Finally, I am typing this on a netbook so do forgive the typos. Anyway, I think the intent of my argument is clear so let’s try to focus on that, shall we. End.

  • nicco

    And one more thing. I know I said it in passing but I think it really should be underlined that you cannot–I repeat: CANNOT say that there was better defense during Jordan’s era and that he was able to score 35 points a game driving to the lane all day. I am sorry but unless you are prepared to say that Jordan would average 40 points game in today’s leauge, (and knowing Jordan fans that probably is not too much of a stretch) those two are mutually exclusive. As I have said before, the best defender against Jordan was GP–and I love GP–but he was just too small to be guarding Jordan. This is to say nothing of the more sophisticated team defensive schemes that players now have to deal with.

    • Boone

      @nicco, The best defender against Jordan was Gary Payton? Really? Dennis Rodman won 2 DPOY awards while playing for the Pistons, and that is who was guarding Jordan. Jordan still was able to score. So please check your facts before you make comments on an article like this.

    • Boone

      @nicco, Also, the rules in today’s NBA protect players and make it easier offensively. There is no team in the NBA that has “Kobe Rules” or “Lebron Rules” like the Bad Boy Pistons had for trying to stop Jordan (look up “Jordan Rules” on google), nor would any team be allowed to play that physical of a game. The Pistons players were told “…any time he went by you, you had to nail him. If he was coming off a screen, nail him…” The rules in the NBA today simply would not allow this. So to say that the defense today is better than back then is ridiculous. I’m not saying that the players in the NBA today couldn’t be better; they are simply not allowed to play like they could in Jordan’s time. Also, with the addition of defensive 3-second rule, post players are not allowed to camp by the basket as they could during Jordan’s era. So please, do not say that Jordan would have to score 40 ppg in today’s game to make it comparable.

      Again, please note that I am not saying that the players in the NBA do not have the potential to be better defenders. I am saying that the rules in place today favor the offense and would allow an easier time driving to the basket.

      Also, I’m not saying Kobe and/or Lebron aren’t great players. They truly are great. However, they are not at the level Jordan was. Jordan was the superior offensive player (against more physical defenses and rules that made it more difficult for offensive players), and he was the superior defensive player (please look at blocks and steals).

      I am sorry for the long post, but you obviously have a lot to learn about the differences between the NBA today and the NBA in Jordan’s era.

  • lance uppercut

    Hey, could you adjust this for the pace of the game? We all know that the game is played a ton slower than it used to be (excluding the Suns/Warriors), and so the numbers skew lower, especially for LeBron who plays for the molasses-fast Cavs. If you did these stats on a per possession basis, I think all three guys would look similar. I do not argue that Jordan was and is the GOAT, but I think it could be a closer race with an adjustment for pace.

  • sas

    Kobe Bryant is probably not better than jordan. (Porbably) because playing back in the 90s and playing now almost 20 years later is pretty different. If the era these players played in dont matter then clearly the best player in the nba of all time is wilt chaberlane, who avergaed 50 pts per game in one season and scored 100 pts in a game. Also jordan won his titles with scotty pippen and kobe jusst won it pretty much on his own with some role players at his side. Also lets not bring about the mvp that jordan had compared to that of kobe because mvp is of the regular season. Now as important as people may think it is players like kobe, jordan, lebron etc. all play their fullest in the playoffs. Im not sayin that kobe wasnt trying in the regular season but rather he more than plays for him self, he is like a in court coach. He more than trys to score for him self, passes to his team mates and let them do thier thing while he coaches from the court. Now lebron however does not do what kobe does. rather he takes the ball for him self and trys his hardest to make plays. Im def. not sayin hes hoggin the ball but most of the time u watch the cavs play he seems to have the ball at his possession. How ever kobe seems to never have the ball (anymore) and is rather commanding his team. You might say ” y does leborn have more assists than kobe” and the reason for this is kobe way more of a out side player now. he doesnt drive in the lane but rather takes his special fade aways. i bring this up because if u watch basketball you know the players with the most assists are the players that dirve through the lane alot. ex. lebron, wade, chris paul, etc. while staying outside the lines commanding the team, kobe still manages to average about 5 -6 assists per game. kobe is a better team player now than lebron and jordan for the sole fact that he is alwayse commanding/ coaching his team rather than trying to make plays. If nessary however, he can, and has taken over the game by himself in order for the team to come out victorious. every thing i hav said is a fact so no need to argue on this topic.

    • Boone

      @sas, Really? Kobe had role players? Look at Gasol, Odom, Fisher, Bynum. You were pretty much right with one statement, that there is no need to argue your comment, but not your reasoning. The reason is that your comment is so ridiculous that you obviously don’t understand basketball. However, in an effort to educate you, I will reply to your comment. Regarding MVPs, Jordan has the most Finals MVPs ever. That’s not regular season. And your comment about Wilt is ridiculous. He did that in one season, and not in the playoffs. Jordan is the only player to average more than 30 ppg throughout their career in the playoffs, and he averages more than 33 ppg. And just as you said, the best players step up their game in the playoffs. Please check your facts before you comment on an article.

  • Maurico Meredith

    Lebron Is da Best In da NBA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • LeBieber

      Michael Jordan = Michael Jackson
      LeBron James = Justin Bieber

  • Chase Noll

    Well nicco stats are all we have that aren’t opinion based everything else is shaky
    especially trying to judge the greatness of a slew of defenders just to judge MJ, KB, LBJ. Then you would have to judge the guys they were defending to validate their reputation as good defenders and so on and so forth. Its an endless loop. And unless you name is Nostradamus screw what these guys will be or will do.

  • Chase Noll

    Oh and about Pip and Shaq. The difference is Pip was never the #1 guy with Jordan on the roster. Shaq was #1 on those first 3 runs and Kobe played Shaqs little helper. So your argument is just a little off. Compare Kobe and Scottie or Shaq and Jordan, at least for championships. You can with Kobe’s latest though. And without Shaq as you so insightfully mentioned. But what about Gasol, Odom, and Trevor “Twist the Knife” Ariza which is the only reason they won a couple of those games. You act like when Shaq was booted Kobe was all alone once he returned to contention. And why did you even mention Rodman. Dude rebounded his ass off but otherwise a LIABILITY. More ammo to Shaq, he left and won with another premier guy. Which means at the time Kobe was replaceable. Pip left home but never returned to glory as a number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or bench. I love Pip. Best Robin of all time.

  • Mook

    …The comparisons were nice to see; but I also think- along with some of the other contributors- when making comparisons of this nature, other non-statistical (hypothetical) factors must be taken into consideration. The argument of who’s better, to me is more a philosophical question rather than a statistical one. Jordan had the better stats compared to both Lebron or Kobe… but if (hypothetically) Lebron finishes his career averaging 31.6ppg (which is likely if he decides to dramatically increase his shots pergame for several seasons), while gaining advantages also in the steals (possible), rebounding, assist (as is the case), categories; and also edging ahead in MVPs and having still no championships, would that automatically PROVE that Lebron is indeed better than jordan?

    Saying ‘yes’ to this question admits a contradiction: cause, in as much as the question is who’s BETTER, and the grounds on which we make such judgements is career statistics, then Lebron or Kobe in this hypothetical instance should be considered better… what they are not better at (and this is not something contigent on overall ability, but sometimes on chance) is winning. On this point, one can consider the careers of Karl malone, and Charles Barkley for instance, as compared to that of Tim Duncan (a force without question), who obviously trumps them in the ‘winning’ category, but may not be afterall ‘better’ than these two players.

    Continuing with the above hypothetical scenario. If Jordan would be considered a better ‘winner’, while Lebron and/or Kobe maintains a statiscal edge, can one venture to say that Jordan- the winner- is BETTER, even though what he has an advantage in (the ‘winning’ category) is something whose outcome is, as we’ve noted earlier, at times outside and beyond the overall ability of the player? If the answer is still ‘yes’, then at this point one MUST raise a criticism of how an objective judgement can be made regarding who is ‘better’. Because at best, given the information at our disposal to make the judgement that we want to make, we may only say (and still on the hypothetical scenario), that Lebron and Kobe had better career stats (which in and of itself does not make them ‘better’ per se) while Jordan was a better winner.

    Now apply the above to the actual scenario at hand; we are only allowed to make a similar judgment regarding who’s ‘better’ (point is we cannot effectively and accurately make that judgement). All we can say, given the information at our disposal is that at the point of the comparisons, Michael Jordan had ‘better overall statistics, while also being the better winner’. Again, lest I be misunderstood, one cannot make a judgement at this stage about whether Jordan is ‘better’ than Lebron or Kobe. Why? the above statement, does cover all the necessary categories required for us effectively and accurately make a judgement as to which of the players is ‘better’. For instance, given the information presented in the article, we’ve been given no choice but to concede the statement ‘Michael Jordan had better stats, and was a better winner’, but we don’t have enough information to measure, for instance, whether jordan was, lets say, faster at driving to the basket than, Lebron or Kobe, or better in anticipating events on the court; and these (few) are still yet another set of possible categories, or ‘statistics’ required if we are to effectively make the judgement that this player is better than that one. For instance, if the statement ‘Jordan is just better’ is accepted based solely on the above statistical comparisons, we would be making an error in judgement, because we do not have ALL the information required for us to make a judgement of that sort; we may only say, as noted earlier, that ‘at the point of the comparisons, Jordan had better stats, and was the better winner’. Like it was also pointed out earlier, if Lebron was to bulk up his stats for several seasons consistently, and Kobe had the luxury of being the main option in his early years, and this resulted in a possible situation where both their stats were ‘better’ than Jordans, then we may in that instance make a similar statement about Lebron and Kobe, in short, that ‘they were better statistically, and were better at winning’; however, that (like the statement made in Jordans case) would be the only statement(s) we would be allowed to make giving the available information. We still would not be able to say, in the case of Kobe or Lebron (if they were to have better stats, and more championships) that they are necessarily ‘better’ basketball players than Jordan. The notion of ‘BETTER’ is not limited to statistics, and in turn cannot be determined by them. The notion of ‘better’, is a judgment which can be made if ALL the information or categories required to make that judgement are made available to us, and one rarely finds this to be the case. Instead, you encounter judgements being made based on limited information or categories: ie, Kobe is ‘better’ because of 81points in a game (dont forget…Jordan never did that), 62 in 3 quarters, 61 in 31mins, 50 in 4straight; Lebron is better because of 30ppg 7rebs 7ast in one season, career playoff 30ppg (dont forget… that’s higher than Kobe’s) 8rebs 7ast ; Jordan is ‘better’ because of career 31ppg, career playoff 33ppg, 6rings (be advised… Lebron or Kobe can never catch up), and so on. Deciding who’s ‘better’ is seldom an objective undertaking; we infuse much of our own thinking into determinging the significance of already existing statistical categories, and we may even form categories to align with our judgment(s) (which tends to precede the infomation required to make that judgement). Everyone, in including the analysts and ‘experts’ engage in this basic human behavior. Stats dont decide anything without the subjective mind interpreting it, and the subjective mind cannot interpret, or judge, unless it has information, or statistical categories (which in the case of this article, as well as many others, is always limited) at its disposal with which it can form a judgement.

    People on both sides have generally oversimplified this debate. It is far more penetrating than numbers and stats, but equally more complex and sophisticated than just opinion and whim. I appreciate the comparisons though; its always interesting.

  • Mook

    …The comparisons were nice to see; but I also think- along with some of the other contributors- when making comparisons of this nature, other non-statistical (hypothetical) factors must be taken into consideration. The argument of who’s better, to me is more a philosophical question rather than a statistical one. Jordan had the better stats compared to both Lebron or Kobe… but if (hypothetically) Lebron finishes his career averaging 31.6ppg (which is likely if he decides to dramatically increase his shots pergame for several seasons), while gaining advantages also in the steals (possible), rebounding, assist (as is the case), categories; and also edging ahead in MVPs and having still no championships, would that automatically PROVE that Lebron is indeed better than jordan?

    Saying ‘No’ to this question admits a contradiction: cause, in as much as the question is who’s BETTER, and the grounds on which we make such judgements is career statistics, then Lebron or Kobe in this hypothetical instance should be considered better… what they are not better at (and this is not something contigent on overall ability, but sometimes on chance) is winning. On this point, one can consider the careers of Karl malone, and Charles Barkley for instance, as compared to that of Tim Duncan (a force without question), who obviously trumps them in the ‘winning’ category, but may not be afterall ‘better’ than these two players.

    Continuing with the above hypothetical scenario. If Jordan would be considered a better ‘winner’, while Lebron and/or Kobe maintains a statiscal edge, can one venture to say that Jordan- the winner- is BETTER, even though what he has an advantage in (the ‘winning’ category) is something whose outcome is, as we’ve noted earlier, at times outside and beyond the overall ability of the player? If the answer is still ‘yes’, then at this point one MUST raise a criticism of how an objective judgement can be made regarding who is ‘better’. Because at best, given the information at our disposal to make the judgement that we want to make, we may only say (and still on the hypothetical scenario), that Lebron and Kobe had better career stats (which in and of itself does not make them ‘better’ per se) while Jordan was a better winner.

    Now apply the above to the actual scenario at hand; we are only allowed to make a similar judgment regarding who’s ‘better’ (point is we cannot effectively and accurately make that judgement). All we can say, given the information at our disposal is that at the point of the comparisons, Michael Jordan had ‘better overall statistics, while also being the better winner’. Again, lest I be misunderstood, one cannot make a judgement at this stage about whether Jordan is ‘better’ than Lebron or Kobe. Why? the above statement, does cover all the necessary categories required for us effectively and accurately make a judgement as to which of the players is ‘better’.

    For instance, given the information presented in the article, we’ve been given no choice but to concede the statement ‘Michael Jordan had better stats, and was a better winner’, but we don’t have enough information to measure, for instance, whether jordan was, lets say, faster at driving to the basket than, Lebron or Kobe, or better in anticipating events on the court; and these (few) are still yet another set of possible categories, or ‘statistics’ required if we are to effectively make the judgement that this player is better than that one. For instance, if the statement ‘Jordan is just better’ is accepted based solely on the above statistical comparisons, we would be making an error in judgement, because we do not have ALL the information required for us to make a judgement of that sort; we may only say, as noted earlier, that ‘at the point of the comparisons, Jordan had better stats, and was the better winner’.

    Like it was also pointed out earlier, if Lebron was to bulk up his stats for several seasons consistently, and Kobe had the luxury of being the main option in his early years, and this resulted in a possible situation where both their stats were ‘better’ than Jordans, then we may in that instance make a similar statement about Lebron and Kobe, in short, that ‘they were better statistically, and were better at winning’; however, that (like the statement made in Jordans case) would be the only statement(s) we would be allowed to make giving the available information. We still would not be able to say, in the case of Kobe or Lebron (if they were to have better stats, and more championships) that they are necessarily ‘better’ basketball players than Jordan.

    The notion of ‘BETTER’ is not limited to statistics, and in turn cannot be determined by them. The notion of ‘better’, is a judgment which can be made if ALL the information or categories required to make that judgement are made available to us, and one rarely finds this to be the case. Instead, you encounter judgements being made based on limited information or categories: ie, Kobe is ‘better’ because of 81points in a game (dont forget…Jordan never did that), 62 in 3 quarters, 61 in 31mins, 50 in 4straight; Lebron is better because of 30ppg 7rebs 7ast in one season, career playoff 30ppg (dont forget… that’s higher than Kobe’s) 8rebs 7ast ; Jordan is ‘better’ because of career 31ppg, career playoff 33ppg, 6rings (be advised… Lebron or Kobe can never catch up), and so on. Deciding who’s ‘better’ is seldom an objective undertaking; we infuse much of our own thinking into determinging the significance of already existing statistical categories, and we may even form categories to align with our judgment(s) (which tends to precede the infomation required to make that judgement). Everyone, in including the analysts and ‘experts’ engage in this basic human behavior. Stats dont decide anything without the subjective mind interpreting it, and the subjective mind cannot interpret, or judge, unless it has information, or statistical categories (which in the case of this article, as well as many others, is always limited) at its disposal with which it can form a judgement.

    People on both sides have generally oversimplified this debate. It is far more penetrating than numbers and stats, but equally more complex and sophisticated than just opinion and whim. I appreciate the comparisons though; its always interesting.

    NOTE: THE PREVIOUS POST CONTAINS AN ERROR WHICH HAS BEEN CORRECTED IN THIS POST. THE SENTENCE “SAYING ‘YES’ TO THIS QUESTION…”, SHOULD READ, “SAYING ‘NO’ TO THIS QUESTION…”. SORRY FOR THAT.

    • Jaduayi

      i think that lebrone is better then mj because lebrone can ast the ball better than mj, reb better than mj and play better def

  • tommyjr97408

    For Kobe’s career, because he is already in his 30s, the comparisons are a little more valid, but for James career (and a little for Kobe’s) these comparisons are not an accurate analysis. The only way to compare Jordan and James somewhat accurately is to compare Jordan’s first three seasons with James’ last three because that is when their ages match…

  • Coby

    Wilt!!!!!!! The most dominate player ever. Look at the stats. It’s not even close. The best, most feared, highest scoring, and best personality ever. Arguing that his competition wasn’t there is not fair. I’m just sayin.

  • detroit baller

    what up i hated mj cause i’m from detroit but later i gained much respect for dudecause he would constantly attack the defense and the basket throughout the course of a game rather than the last few minutes that’s the true definition of taking over a game btw speaking of that bad boys defense the physicality and dirtiness with wich they played not even a pale shadow of that defense exists in todays nba there’s also the matter of today’s nba being a donut league as there are fewer true center than the atlantic division alone had in the 1990′s of the undersized jump shooting centers in todays nba none are allowed to protect the basket what with the 3 second calls. i watched mj get bodyslammed punched and elbowed almost every time he went to the basket by the pistons and dude just kept coming those were some bloody games literally cause mj got bloodied and injured so many times in that series yet continued to eschew the jumper and attack the defense setting up teammates or attacking the basket. i did not see even a little bit of this when kobe went up against bostons defense when you consider the fact that that celtics defense was in no way comparable to the defense of detroit or even most teams of that era (no diss to celtics rules don’t allow for truly physical play anymore) there is no way you could compare kobe to mj yes mj has superior numbers in nearly every category but those numbers cannot begin to tell how much better than kobe mj was by the numbers he’s quite a bit better but actually being there to watch his career he is then shockingly superior and the stats show that he gets even better in the playoffs something kobe hasn’t done in even one season playoff numbers always down from regular season he does amazing things in meaningless games. earlier in the post someone suggested mj could not have scored 81 points dude did you even watch the game did you even know phil wasn’t coacing la at the time the chief reason mj never had 81 and kobe did was phil jackson la was down 50 without enough time to even make the score look better yet kobe remained on the floor and continued to jack up shots somethin phil would never allow yet phil was in retirement that year conversly many times when mj had 50+ points with 9 or 10 minutes left in the third qurter and the bulls were blowing the other team out mj was never allowed to suit back up and play more minutes in fact most coaches wouldn’t btw la lost by 30+ in that game also kobe broke jordans record for consecutive 40 point games yet finished that season nearly 2 points lower than mj when he went on his scoring binge so consistency is in question there’s also the matter of jordans physical superiority over bryant they have nearly identical skill sets mj elevates those skill sets with sheer determination to beat you and a suprior body to perfom it is very easy to learn if you never saw mj play that he is stronger faster more competetive a higher jumper had the mentality to attack the basket first shoot later and was tough as nails iv’e seen players in the past punch kobe during games no one ever got in mikes face a lot and no one ever dared punch him cause they would get a carolina ass whuppin other players throughout his career knew this iv’e seen kobe get bullied at that point in his career with shaq bailing him out constantly coming to the rescue. mj was alredy one of the leagues best players three years before pippen entered the league even so it was 3 more years before pippen became the pippen all the kobe lovers like to mention as jordans reason for success quite the opposite mj molded pippen into the player he would later become before he was a tall skilled soft guy that didn’t like contact which reduced his effectiveness on d and pissed mj off so he worked with scottie after that no more retreating to the bench after getting punched or elbowed after watching the 2008 nba finals is there anyone on these forums who can with all honesty think that kobe would succeed against 80′s 90′s era defenses it’s no small coincidence that kobe’s scoring average jumped way up after the 99 season rule changes further evidence is the 2004 finals when la had a team that was supposed to set wins records yet nearly got swept by the pistons without kobe ever getting his regular season scoring average can anyone who actually watched mj play in his prime dipute my claim that he would average at least 40 ppg under today’s rules which are heavily in favor of offensive players. also competetiveness comes into question considering la has been a heavy favorite in every finals appearance since 2000 yet won 4 out of 6 titles in 9 years while chicago were heavy underdogs in all but 2 of 6 nba finals appearances winning all six in 8 years including 2 years of retirement from mj. mj had such longevity that younger hoops fans fail to realize he was at the time of winning his final title and scoring title and mvp he was 5 years older than kobe is now yet kobe plays older relying on his jumper and fadeaway more and more this started in kobes late 20′s i never saw mj really use the fadeaway regularly till age 34. the only way i could see kobe getting close to mj in terms of stats is la getting big time free agents to keep la winning hopefully a couple more titles.just my opinion but mj’s career arc consisted of being a top 3 player every year and not being in the conversation of best player right up until he won the first title kobe on the other hand was declared the next jordan from the time he came to the nba and was allowed to eventually grow into such a role so who’s more competeive a guy that basically had every accolade handed to him
    on loan till he eventually got there or a guy who’s had to fight,claw and scatch through brilliant clutch gameplay for every accolade he ever recieved even while on top the league had to find other people to give the mvp award to simply because many hofrs were close to retirement and many people got tired of mj winning it every year he would invariably destroy these guys in the playoffs and make stern look stupid

  • detroit baller

    it is well documented that mj hran a 4.1 40 with a 50 inch vertical lebron despite his size not kobe is closer to mj in terms of athleticism continue to watch games you will see kobe is not even the fastest at his position by a longshot he plays opposite style of mj though with similarities kobe uses his jumper to open driving lanes mj uses the drive to set up the jumper

  • KB24

    Kobe wasn’t a starter til the lockout season and the Lakers teams’ shot less than the Bulls. Jordan got a larger share of his teams fg’s and way more total shots than Kobe. I still think Jordan was better but it’s not an unbelievable difference. Here are the stats broken down: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2905114/kobe_vs_jordan_using_statistics_to.html?cat=14

  • Bill

    For everyone that argues against the use of stats in determining who is the G.O.A.T. then consider this.  Once MJ honed his game and won his first championship nobody beat him.  For six years he thoroughly dominated the game.  Since he could only play against the competition of his generation you have to look at how he competed against that talent.  He found a way to completely dominate the players he played against and if he were in another era he would adjust his game accordingly.  Kobe has not exhibited this type of complete domination for a year let alone 6 (Jordan once averaged 43 ppg in the playoffs, domination).  With Kobe there have always been other players winning scoring titles, championships and MVPs (Nash even had 2) during his prime.  During Jordan’s prime he put up a virtual eclipse on all relevant awards and overshadowed great players who would have gotten much more recognition.  Karl Malone is second all time in points and hasn’t even been mentioned in these comments because MJ was good we forget about him!  Kobe is great but we have a tendency to over hype the now and discount the past.  With the rules changes some ESPN analysts have speculated that Jordan could average 40+ in today’s more European style of play with much less hand-checking and the defensive 3 second rule wiping out the ability to crowd the paint.  MJ also averaged 35 ppg (Kobe’s season high) while winning the DPOY award which means he was the best offensive and defensive player in the same year, which is truly incomprehensible.  Finally, if you had to draft a team from all players current and former to beat your most hated enemy you would pick MJ first.  I don’t know if I’d even go Kobe second, maybe Kareem or Wilt or Magic.  You would pick MJ because in his prime he was invincible and unbeatable and the definition of a winner, never lost a game 7 because when it was the line he would find a way to beat you.  Also no player will ever have a moment like in ’98 against the Jazz when he stole it from the NBA’s second all time leading scorer, drove against a team who knew it was coming and hit a shot so perfectly dead center it rewrote the definition of a swish.  The way that all went down like a script just showcased his unmatched mastery of the game and his complete superiority to his opponents.  The way he just held it and bounced like he was shaking the last drip of spunk from his humongous mushroom stamp of a career made it all the more impressive.

  • Christopher Brandão

    Wong comparison. since james has the least amount of years you cant campare that to all of jordans and all of kobe you idiot ok.
    this is what you do you take the fist 7 years of james and compare that to 1st 7 of kobe and 1st seven of jordans and thats it, its not far to compare careers when they are all not done yet and are currently in different times of there career now. BS comparison. but ounce you do check it the RIGHT way you will see that James’s first 7 in stats are better then kobes so therefore kobe is ruled out. then put Jordans first 7 against james and see how close it is.

  • AIR_JORDAN_REIGNS

    Type you            CAREER STAT COMPARISONS
     
     
                               PPG       FG%       FT%       3P%       APG       SPG       BPG       RPG
     
    MJ         30.12     49.7          83.5         32.7          5.3         2.35          .8           6.3KB         25.3       45.4          83.7         33.9          4.7         1.5            .5           5.3LBJ       27.7       47.9          74.4         32.9          7.0         1.7            .8           7.1
     
    SCORE:   MJ = 3/4/1   KB = 2/5/1   LBJ = 2/5/1
     
     
                                                        PRIME VS PRIME (Best 3 consecutive years)
     
     
                                                    PPG    FG%   FT%    3P%    APG    SPG    BPG    RPG
     
    MJ   (1987-1989)       34.9     51.8      84.9      19.6       6.2       2.98     1.3       6.2    KB   (2006-2008)       31.8     45.7      85.2      35.0       5.8        1.7      .66       5.8LBJ  (2008 -2010)     29.4     49.2      75.3      33.0       7.7        1.7      1.1       7.6
     
      SCORE:   MJ = 4/4   KB = 2/6   LBJ = 2/6
     
     
                                                                     BEST SEASON
     
     
                                                    PPG    FG%   FT%    3P%    APG    SPG    BPG    RPG
     
         1.   MJ   (1988-1989)         32.5      54         85        28           8         2.9       .8          8
         2.   KB   (2002-2003)          30        45         84        38          5.9       2.2       .8         6.9
         3.   LBJ (2007-2008)          30        48         71        32          7.2       1.8       1.1       7.9
     
    SCORE:   MJ = 6/2   KB = 1/7   LBJ = 1/7
     
     
                                                          HIGHEST SCORING GAME
     
     
                                                   POINTS   FG%   FT%   3P   AST   STLS    TRB   BLK
     
       1.   MJ    (03-20-90)                69         62         91         2        6         4          18
       2.   KB    (01-22-06)                81         61         90         7        2         3            6        1
       3.   LBJ   (03-20-05)               56         50          ?           6        5         2          10
     
    SCORE:   MJ = 5/3   KB = 3/5   LBJ = 0/8
     
                                            CAREER POST SEASON STATS
     
     
                                   PPG        FG%     FT%      3P%      APG      SPG      BPG      RPG
     
       1.   MJ                33.4         48.7         83         33.2          5.7         2.1        .88          6.4
       2.   KB                25.4         44.8         81.5      33.5          4.8         1.4         .7           5.1
       3.   LBJ              28.7         45.9         74.9      32.3            7           1.6          1           8.5
     
    SCORE:   MJ = 4/4   KB = 1/7   LBJ = 3/5
     
     
                                                       
     
                                                CAREER ALLSTAR STATS 
     
     
                                  PPG       FG%      FT%      3P%      APG      SPG      BPG      RPG
     
      1.   MJ                20.2        47.2         75          27.3          4.2        2.85       .46          4.7
      2.   KB                20.3         51           81          34.5          4.5        2.8          .3           5.3
      3.   LBJ              23.7        50.4         66.7         35            5.3        1.8         .3           6.3
     
    SCORE:   MJ = 2/8   KB = 2/8   LBJ = 4/4
     
     
                                                        GRAND TOTALS
     
     
    MJ = 24   2. KB = 11   3.  LBJ = 12
     
    Note: One thing to take into consideration is the “freeze out” that Magic Johnson and Isaiah Tomas implemented in MJ’s first all-star game which hurt his stats.
     
                                                       
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
                                                        ACCOMPLISHMENTS
     
     
                        RINGS   MVP’s   SCORING TITLES   DOY   SLAM DUNK CHAMP
     
          1.    MJ         6           5                       10                      1                      2
          2.    KB         5           1                        2                       0                      1
          3.   LBJ        0            2                       1                        0                      0
     
                      ALLSTAR MVP    ROY   GOLD METALS    ALL NBA FIRST TEAM
     
    MJ             3                      1                   2                                      9KB             4                      0                   2                                      9LBJ            2                      1                   2                                     5
                                                               
          TOTALS:  MJ = 5/1/3   2. KB = 1/6/2   3. LBJ = 0/7/2
     
     
                                                               KEY POINTS
     
    When doing stat comparisons, records concerning the youngest player to reach certain land marks should be left out. Otherwise, MJ’s college stats should be added to his resume along with his NCAA championship and his two time college player of the year awards. If he would have joined the NBA right out of high school, a lot more would have been added to his long list of accomplishments.
     
    Another point that should be taken into consideration is the fact that MJ missed most of the 1986 season as well as all of the 1994 and 1995 seasons. Those were three years in his prime where he would have put up outstanding numbers and might have possibly garnered two more championships. He also retired prematurely at 35 and then came back as a Wizard at the ages of 38, 39 and 40 where he tarnished his stats a bit. If he would have played those two years at 36 and 37, that would have made a major difference as well. Add that to the three years he missed in his prime and that’s five more years worth of stats that could have been put in the books which would have made his career numbers almost impossible to exceed.
     
    One final Point to consider is the fact that Kobe Bryant was a bench player for the first few years that he was a Laker and didn’t even come close to playing the 82 games. If he would have been a starter as well as a team leader right out of high school, It’s inconceivable to think that LeBron would be breaking any of Kobe’s early scoring records.    
                                                           
                                                        INTANGIBLES
     
             I’m going to name things that each player is better at than the other two.
    MJ
       1.   The quickest first step off the dribble.
       2.   The best mid ranged fade away jumper.
       3.   The most creative shot selection.
       4.   The best dunker if you combine game time plays and the dunk contest.
       5.   The best ball thief.
       6.   The best all around scorer.
       7.   The best lock down defender.
       8.   The best at driving the lane and getting to the hole.
       9.   The best at finding high percentage shots.
      10.  The best in the post.
      11.  The sharpest and most graceful player.
      12.  The best at using one hand.
      13.  The best at using his left hand.
      14.  The greatest hang time ever with the ability to change his shot in mid air.
            15.  The best shot blocker per position.
      16.  The best in the transition game defensively.
      17.  The best at seeing the court and making the right plays at the right time.
      18.  The most determined competitor.
      19.  The best one on one player.
      20.  The best winner.
      21.  The best clutch player in NBA history. There are arguments about Kobe        
             Bryant or Jerry West filling that position but all you need to look at is 
             who owns most of the post season and finals highlights, records, game
             winning shots, etc. You can’t get anymore clutch than that!                                                                      
    KB
      1.   The best  jump shooter at the long 2’s range.
      2.   The best ball handler.
      3.   The best at the free throw line.
      4.   The best at getting off improbable shot after improbable shot.
      5.   The best spin moves.
      6.   The hardest worker and practitioner.
      7.   The hottest shooter in NBA history when he’s on fire.
    LBJ
    1.      The most powerful game.
    2.      The best at going coast to coast.
    3.      The best team personality.
    4.      The best rebounder.
    5.      The best passer.
    6.      The most consistent at the 3 point range.
    7.      The best spring off one foot.
                                                    
     
                                                          ATHLETICISM
     SPEED
     
    MJ = 4.3 40
    KB = 4.8 40
    LBJ = 4.4 40
     
     
    VERTICLE LEAP
     
    MJ = 48”
    KB = 38”
    LBJ = 44”
     
    These are basically the only two categories that are documented but we all know that MJ had the edge on inside quickness as well. LeBron is said to have a strength advantage at 6ft 8”, 250 lbs but we really don’t know how much of a difference that would have made against MJ if any. Magic Johnson who was the largest guard in NBA history at 6ft. 9, 225 to 230 lbs, once said that MJ was the strongest guard ever and that he had “big mans” strength. This he learned at the 1992 Olympics when they were on the dream team together. Other sizable players have said that about MJ as well. It may have been a closer match up physically between him and LeBron than most people think. Kobe falls behind in this category but his skill level has made up for a lot of it.
     
                                                 PHYSICAL MATCH UPS
    HEIGHT
     
    MJ = 6ft 4 ¾
    KB = 6ft 4 ¾
    LBJ = 6 ft 8
     
     
    APPROX. WEIGHT/PRIME
     
    MJ = 210
    KB = 205
    LBJ = 250
     
    LeBron is obviously larger than the two but MJ’s leaping ability closes the gap as far as the height advantage is concerned and his pound for pound strength closes the gap concerning the weight advantage as well. Kobe would be the most affected by the size difference when posting up against LeBron.  
     
                                                          
                                                       COMPETITION
     
    The ongoing argument that today’s critics continue to make is how the league has changed; it’s more athletic and the players are at a higher skill level. Therefore, they try to catapult both LeBron James and Kobe Bryant to MJ’s status and some even dare to say that they’re better! So far, I haven’t seen anything that supports this theory in any of the categories I’ve broken down other than LeBron James having a size advantage and being the best player in the all-star game which isn’t a game of importance. MJ dominates in just about every other category. If Michael Jordan could match or supersede most of Kobe Bryant’s skills and compete with LeBron James physically, then why wouldn’t he dominate in today’s game? If no one can stop those two guys, how would they stop MJ who had even more to bring to the table? The fact is, the rule changes have favored players such as Kobe and LeBron. It’s a scorer friendly league in this era and without hand checking, the 3 second rule and neglecting to call hard fouls as they did back then, they’re able to dash through the painted area unpunished. MJ didn’t have that luxury. He got hammered going to the hole and physically beaten up on a regular basis. It was a much rougher game in his time and yet he still averaged over 30 points per contest for his career and closer to 35 PPG in three consecutive years of his prime! I can’t imagine what he would have had for a PPG in today’s game where they couldn’t touch him. 45? 50? Let’s not forget his all around game that went with it. My question is, how well would Kobe and LeBron have done against the late 80’s Detroit Pistons and the early 90’s New York knicks under the old rules? What would their numbers look like being ganged up on and beaten down? There’s no way that they would have maintained the stats they’ve been putting up in today’s game.   
     
    Another thing I continue to hear is how they play zone now as opposed to man to man. What difference does that make when MJ was getting double and triple teamed all of the time? Everyone geared their defense to try and stop him! Also, I believe he was playing against zone defenses when he was a Wizard and yet he still put up 51 points at 38 years old, 43 points at 40 years old, averaged over 20 points a game at that age, etc. while maintaining his all around numbers and shooting nearly 50% from the field. Can you imagine if he was young and in his prime at that time?
     
    A term that people like to use these days is “The watered down 90’s” which I think is a joke. Why can’t they give MJ credit for what he really was? Does anyone even remember what he had to go through to win his first title? Let’s start with the three legendary teams he had to play against in the 80’s. Larry Bird’s Celtics, Magic Johnson’s Lakers and Isaiah Thomas’s Pistons which was arguably the roughest, dirtiest and best defensive team ever. The other two were great all around championship teams for the ages. He had to get past those guys which was much stiffer team competition than what you have now across the league. Then, he had to defend his title by getting past teams like those bruising New York Knicks, the Pacers, the Magic, the Trailblazers, the Sonics, the Suns and the Jazz which were all bordering a championship as well. It was MJ that kept them out of the contention. It’s absurd to say that he and the Bulls lacked competition. It was there.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Then there are those uneducated people who insist that there was a lack of NBA talent in MJ’s era! Let’s see how much water that holds. Here is a list of players that he played against from early in his career until he retired as a Bull…
     
    Dr. J, Dominique Wilkins, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Isaiah Thomas, Karl Malone, Bernard King, George Gervin, Clyde Drexler, John Stockton, Kevin McHale, Shawn Kemp, Magic Johnson, Glenn Rice, Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Dennis Rodman, James Worthy, Grant Hill, Mark Jackson, Penny Hardaway, Joe Dumars, Alonzo Mourning, Reggie Miller, etc. I’m sure I left some out but most of these players are Hall of famers or at least all-stars that MJ competed against throughout most of his career. Does anyone remember these guys?
     
    Then, we have these top caliber players that he competed against later on when he was in the twilight of his career…
     
    Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Allen Iverson,Vince Carter, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, etc. Should I go on?
     
    Wait a minute… I left out several all time great centers but I can’t name them without reminding you of the 3 second rule where they were allowed to wait around in the paint so they could hammer him coming down the lane!
     
    Moses Malone, Artis Gilmore, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Ralph Sampson, Bill Laimbeer, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaq, David Robinson, Robert Parish, Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Bill Walton, etc.
     
    I just named 12 star centers (6 of them in the top 10 all time list) that played during MJ’s era along with 35 other great players. That’s a total of 47 top competitors that he played against during his career and I’m quite certain I left some out. If someone can come up with a better list than that who are playing in today’s game, I sure would love to see it!
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    I agree that the players are bigger today overall but that gets cancelled out due to the lack of star power in the center position. There isn’t near as much talent across the league under the rim as there was in MJ’s era. I also agree that the players are more athletic these days but that gets cancelled out due to the fact that they’re lacking the fundamentals that the top athletes possessed back then. I’ll put my money on the smart and educated player over the more physically gifted player any day. I can agree that the league “sees” more skill in today’s game but I won’t agree that it’s because the players are more skilled. It’s because of the rule changes. Taking the physical play out of basketball is like taking the left hook out of boxing. If you go into battle without having that to worry about, it frees you up to do so much more. This debate could go on and on but I’m going to sum it up by saying that MJ earned every bit of his status as the greatest player of all time and deserves all of his championship rings as well. Anyone who wants to try and discredit his accomplishments better bring some valid facts along with the stats to back them up rather than the weak arguments I’ve been hearing. Until then, MJ will not be dethroned for a very long time!
     
     
    My list goes like this…
     
    1. MJ
    2. KB
    3. LBJ
     
    Even though the overall stats show a little favoritism for LeBron James, he still has to get past Kobe Bryant in my book to become the best player in the league let alone, the greatest of all time. He’s a better rebounder and passer than Kobe is with a higher PPG and shooting percentage but it remains to be seen how much of that he’ll have to give up in order to win a championship. Then the real comparisons can begin. I’ll also give him the edge in size and athleticism but on the flip side of the coin, Kobe can play the half court offense. He can post up and create shots for himself much better than Lebron can, he’s significantly better at the line, his mid-range jumper is second to none in the league, he’s a better defender and he’s the best clutch player in the NBA. Add five championship rings to his resume versus Lebron’s zero and we don’t even have a discussion at this point. SWISH, Game over! r comment here.

  • AIR_JORDAN_REIGNS

    This stupid thing reorganized my stats and messed them all up but you guys can probably figure them out!

  • AIR_JORDAN_REIGNS

    This stupid thing reorganized my stats and messed them all up but you guys can probably figure them out!

  • anonymous

    hands down michael                                                                                           
    1. michael
    2. kobe
    3.lebron

  • ADWAYNE51

    MJ>KOBE>LEBRON

  • Shaydogg

    I think you should try to update this and see James is catching mj fast and will be better than him by the time he retires