Who is the better player, James or Jordan?
James labored in relative mid-level success in Cleveland for seven years before finding two championships with the Miami Heat. His first Cleveland experience was lacking in support from teammates unable to go the distance to a title. Jordan, on the other hand, had talent galore during his first three-peat run with the Chicago Bulls.
Consider this. The year before Jordan left to play baseball, his Bulls won 57 games. The first year he was gone, they still won 55. The year before LeBron left Cleveland to join the Heat, his Cavaliers won 61 games. The following year with James gone, they won 19.
Clearly, Jordan had a much greater supporting group of teammates in Chicago than James initially had in Cleveland.
Since then, of course, James has won three NBA titles, two in Miami and one in Cleveland. Many think that had Cleveland avoided season ending injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving last year, they might well have earned another title for Cleveland and James in his return to the Cavaliers.
When Jordan played, there was no one better. Six NBA titles are validation. The same could be said of James.
James, however, did what no player had ever done before, that is, rally from a 3-1 deficit in games to win a title. In two of those wins, he scored 41 points. He did what no one ever accomplished before him, statistically. He was the individual leader in all five categories of points scored, assists, rebounds, assists and steals.
James was the essence of professional basketball in the NBA Finals. Golden State could not stop this player-on-the-floor-coach, instructor, motivator, human highlight reel, and crowd intimidator. Laboring under a seven-point halftime deficit, he erased that, times two, and dominated the entire game down the stretch, shooting and rebounding, and when needed, soaring above the rim to block Golden State fast break lay-ups.
Both have been shining examples of solid citizenry, providing positive role models for so much of America’s youth, James’s ascendancy, especially, from a difficult start in life, to a devoted family man with three beautiful children. Michael’s strength upon the murder of his father is equally telling of the man’s outstanding character.
Kareem, Magic and Professor William Fenton Russell, along with Michael, are flying towards basketball immortality, but make no mistake, it is LeBron James piloting the plane.