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Jordan LBJ

Many fans of the NBA have this notion that Michael Jordan’s status as the greatest player of all time is an untouchable rank. While players such as Kobe Bryant have come close to challenging MJ, it is widely agreed upon by fans of the NBA community that Jordan will always be considered better than Kobe.

But could the same be said about LeBron James? You know, the man Sports Illustrated dubbed as the “Chosen One” when James was only a junior in high school in 2002. Or the NBA superstar who is on the verge of achieving a three-peat at only age 28? Although LeBron still has a long way to go before eclipsing Jordan’s legacy, here are three reasons King James will ultimately surpass Air Jordan as the greatest of all time.

1. Accolades

At age 28, many similarities could be drawn between LeBron and Jordan. After all, each superstar was able to win multiple MVP titles and at a least a single NBA Championship up to this point in their respective careers. But which star was able to achieve more accolades at age 28?

LeBron has outnumbered Jordan in the League MVP category by a four to two, NBA Championships by two to one, and Finals MVPs by the same two to one gap.

And with LeBron’s past history of switching teams in order to form a prolific team elsewhere, his chances of continuing to win titles is very high. After all, he could decide to join forces with Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, or even return to Cleveland in order to team up with Kyrie Irving.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTeCc8jy7FI

The long-standing tradition of a superstar player playing for a single organization throughout his  career is practically extinct. Players such as Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are prime examples of  stars who have switched organizations during the latter stages of their careers in order to have the best shot of winning a title.

Players now value winning more than loyalty to an organization, and LeBron has demonstrated that he is not averse to skipping town, in order to win a plethora of championships.

2. Versatility

With the exception of Magic Johnson, when was the last time an NBA player, measuring at 6’8 and weighing 250 pounds could play all five positions on a basketball court like LeBron James? No player in current professional basketball comes to mind. Not even the great Michael Jordan.

LeBron’s versatility is most evident in his accumulation of triple-doubles. Jordan was able to tally 28 triple-doubles in his remarkable career, while LeBron on the other hand has already recorded 47 triple-doubles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGvgkwOcuIY

LeBron’s athleticism is what has allowed him to rebound and reach the triple-double milestone many times. But what about his passing? For an athlete as tall and strong as he is to collect a significant amount of assists is truly extraordinary. Fellow NBA stars such as Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony primarily produce points and rebounds, which makes LeBron’s passing ability that much more impressive.

And he has displayed this versatility during the most pivotal moments as well, like in his Game Five performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals (26 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds).

3. Winning With Less Talent

If one compares LeBron’s championship teams to Jordan’s, it is clear that LeBron has able to win with less talent. Although Dwyane Wade was once viewed as one of the top five players in the NBA, he has not been the same player since the acquisition of LeBron, mostly due to an array of knee injuries in the last three seasons.

Chris Bosh was a big star with the Toronto Raptors. But he too saw a decline in his production once he signed with the Heat in 2010 (most notably in his 2013 postseason play).

Chris Bosh

But how talented were Jordan’s Bulls teams of the 1990s? He had Scottie Pippen in his prime, who is arguably among the 50 greatest players of all time and one of the best defensive players ever. He had Dennis Rodman, whose off-the-court issues aside, was one of the most successful rebounders in the history of the game. And he had Phil Jackson, who is regarded by many to be the greatest NBA coaching mastermind.

What makes LeBron’s playoff feats particularly impressive is that he achieved championships with an injury-riddled star in Wade. He won titles with a young and unaccomplished coach in Erik Spoelstra, who was on the verge of being fired after the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals. And through his playmaking ability and leadership, LeBron was even able to transform the underachieving and troubled Chris “Birdman” Andersen into a big difference-maker in the 2013 NBA Finals.

Heat

But the clearest way to understand LeBron’s ability to win with marginal talent can be seen in 2007, when he led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. LeBron not only led sub-par players such as Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden and Eric Snow to the brink of an NBA title, but each of these players also made more money than LeBron James that season.

In fact, LeBron was only the fifth highest paid player on the Cavaliers during the 2006-2007 season.

These salaries are noteworthy because they indicate a player’s value. If players like Hughes, Gooden, and Snow are making the most money, and are thus viewed as the most talented and valuable players on the roster, then one begins to wonder how this team actually made it to the NBA Finals. Could have LeBron James been the reason for their success?

2007 Cavs

Michael Jordan is undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes in the history of American sports. He has not only impacted the game from a basketball standpoint but also a marketing aspect as well (through his commercials and endorsements).

But if we’re talking about the greatest basketball player of all time, who in my opinion is someone who has the ability to place his imprint on the sport in a variety of ways (shooting, passing, and rebounding), then LeBron James is the man who will one day surpass Michael Jordan as the best to ever play the game.

~ by Payam Malakouti, Sidelines Analyst

Lebron MJ

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