The Sportz Nutt Wonders If LeBron Really Is The GOAT

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When the new year hits us, it’s always a time to reflect on what was, what is, and what will be…and no, I’m not talking about Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Recently, LeBron James spoke with his friends on a clip saying that his win over the Warriors in the NBA Finals made him the greatest of all-time.

Following that, a clip surfaced (or resurfaced) of Jordan talking to Mike Wilbon about how he approaches the “GOAT” status…MJ had this to say:

First of all, I don’t agree with calling oneself the greatest of all-time, especially when the career isn’t over. And while I do think that accomplishment in winning that title down 3-1 is one of the best ever, I still don’t like the status placement. However, for everyone to say that Jordan is being humble/classy etc., go ahead and watch his hall of fame speech and read this article, which will hopefully change your mind.

This comparison has been debated for a long LONG time, because about 10 years ago, Jordan was all alone as being hailed the greatest of alltime (though some say Kareem), but within those 10 years, a man named LeBron James has been to the Finals countless times, won 3 of them, and has been the best player in the sport. The naysayers will use typical anti-LeBron propaganda: Jordan has won 6 titles, Jordan has the scoring titles and MVP’s, LeBron has lost as many Finals as Jordan has won, LeBron had more help.

Here’s my retort:

1) Jordan does have 6 titles, compared to LeBron’s 3. I do think if he is to be considered the GOAT, he will need at least a 4th. That said, it took Jordan how many years to even get there as he was ousted by the greatest players of all-time. Furthermore, Jordan’s first two titles were against teams weaker than any LeBron has faced, and he rarely played against these great players in their primes. Finally, once expansion hit the NBA, the league became diluted and thus easier for the best teams to win. It is nowhere near the international game that it is today. LeBron’s 3-1 deficit comeback for the title over the Warriors a couple of years ago is the best of any wins of either two in this discussion.

2) Sure, Jordan has more scoring titles and MVP’s, but LeBron’s strength has never been scoring. He is one of, if not the best, passer in NBA history, and is more of a facilitator than scorer. Completely different player. It’s no coincidence that he consistently leads his teams in assists per game year after year, and can rebound with the best of them. He is 4th all-time in points scored, 11th all-time in assists and 56th all-time in rebounds. In fact, he should be in the 10k club, recording at least 10000 of all of the above stats. By the way, he’s also 16th all-time in steals.

3) LeBron’s loss record in the Finals is a tough one to swallow, and his loss to the Mavericks is the lowest point in either career. That being said, Jordan didn’t even make it to a Finals until Scottie Pippen came to his team. And, for almost a decade, Jordan couldn’t beat the juggernauts of the East without him. Year after year, he lost to the Pistons or Celtics…imagine that today with LeBron? He got lambasted for not winning the Finals on his own when Kyrie and Love got injured. Sure, LeBron lost 6 Finals, but he made it farther those years, and shouldn’t be criticized. Furthermore, name one opponent of Jordan’s that will have or has 4 future hall-of-famers like the Warriors? We have never and will never see a team like this Warriors team, arguably the toughest to beat ever.

4) Here’s where it gets interesting. Many people point to LeBron starting this “Super Team” mentality, citing that Wade, Bosh, Kyrie and Love are all elite talent. Let’s look first at the records of all of LeBron’s teams when he’s out of the lineup: 23-49….that’s with Wade and/or Bosh in that lineup leading the way, or Kyrie and/or Love doing the same. Let’s go past that and look at LeBron’s teams after he leaves: lottery bound. He left Cleveland twice and they were/are atrocious. Even when he left the Heat, the same team with Wade and Bosh finished with the 10th best record in the East, well under .500…..okay, onto the Bulls, when after having won 3 NBA Titles, Jordan retired and went onto baseball. Those Bulls? 55-27, 3rd in the Eastern Conference. The next season……47-35, and that was with a returning Jordan for 17 games. My point is that LeBron didn’t have as much help as people think….he elevated those teams. Furthermore, name me a coach LeBron has had that has been even close to the level of Phil Jackson?

My final verdict: While it seems like I have been attacking Jordan here, the fact is that I’m more supporting LeBron here for those who don’t agree. And while I do think that when he retires he will be the GOAT, right now, I still put Jordan ahead of him. I do think statistically, LeBron beats Jordan hands down, because to me scoring isn’t the only indicator of greatness. And while I don’t think that title counting is the clear path to greatness either (I mean, Russell should be there, no?), I think LeBron needs one more title….and I do think he’ll get it. Next year’s Lakers team will be pretty darn good, one way or another, and you can bet the Warriors will lose one of their top 4 players.

So, when it’s all said and done, LeBron will be the greatest of all-time. Eat that Skip;)

And there you have it.