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Saturday, April 21, 2018

LeBron James-Michael Jordan comparison looks much better now


We know how goes when you try to compare a player to Michael Jordan. The MJ defenders come out — rightfully so — and preach about His Airness’ greatness. MJ won six NBA titles, went 6-0 in the NBA Finals, and won six Finals MVP awards. That’s pretty tough to top. But after winning his second NBA championship and second NBA Finals MVP award, LeBron James is starting to earn a fair comparison to Jordan.

Let’s take a look at the stats.

LeBron James at 28: 4 MVPs, 2 NBA titles, 2 NBA Finals MVPs, 9 All-Star selections
Michael Jordan at 29: 3 MVPs, 2 NBA titles, 2 NBA Finals MVPs, 8 All-Star selections

MJ was born in February and turned 29 midway through the 1991-1992 NBA season, which was when he won his second NBA championship. That was also his eighth season in the league. MJ’s accolades following that season — his age 28 season in the NBA — included two NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs, three NBA MVPs, and eight All-Star games, as listed above.

[Related: LeBron James to Michael Jordan: Rings don’t define a career]

LeBron was born in December and was 28 for most of the NBA season. He just won his second title, second NBA Finals MVP award, and fourth regular-season MVP award in what has been his 10th season in the league. LeBron was 18 when he entered the league and did not make the All-Star team in his rookie season, but he has made it every season since.

James got an early jump on MJ because he went straight to the pros from high school instead of going to college for a few years like Jordan. That partly explains why his resume is stronger than Jordan’s at this age, and it partly explains why LeBron was criticized for so long (he was in the league for a long time before winning a championship).

One stat some people in the LBS Facebook group mentioned when we pointed out the MJ/LeBron stats is that Jordan went 6-0 in the finals while LeBron is 2-2. While the loss to the Dallas Mavericks is definitely a blemish, James should be credited for leading his 2008-2009 Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals when he was only 24. The supporting cast on that team was not very strong, yet James led them to the NBA Finals. He should be rewarded for that achievement. Plus, don’t forget that Jordan lost to the Detroit Pistons three seasons in a row before finally breaking through for his first NBA title in 1991.

Though I don’t think LeBron will win six rings — I think he’ll probably end up with five — he will rank right next to MJ when his career is all over. LeBron has been the best player in the game for several seasons and will go down in history as one of the best ever.

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