LeBron James is not the GOAT. For the sake of the barbershop argument, I have put together a quick rebuttal to the argument that my fellow talented6 member Ron Simpson made for LeBron James.
It really hurts my soul that I have to make this argument for MJ, the fact that youngsters believe Kobe was better (my head explodes every time I hear the argument for a player that really has no statistical evidence he was the best player in any given season he played) or LeBron has already surpassed MJ kills me (I’m a huge LeBron fan and after the Warriors win I was ready to call him the GOAT but that was recency bias in its finest form).
Notice no Kobe on the list, so I won’t waste my time arguing the Kobe fans…
In my opinion, LeBron will probably surpass MJ or match his greatness on sheer force of career stats so it’s no need to compare their accomplishments through the same age because undoubtedly LeBron is projecting to become the greatest player ever.
It should also be said though, MJ probably had the greatest career of any player after the age 30 so Bron won’t be cruising to the throne; he’ll still need to be injury free and pushing for championships. But back to the current GOAT, MJ’s game was flawless: greatest scorer of all time, best two way player of all time, most clutch, and homicidal competitive.
Short List of Some Statistically Achievements
Highest career scoring average per game in the regular season
Highest career scoring average per game in the playoffs
11 scoring titles
Averaged 44 points in a finals series
Most points scored in a playoff game (against an all-time great team)
4th in win shares (Only big men in front of him, LeBron will probably pass him at some point)
Highest PER for a regular season and playoff run in modern NBA history
Most blocks by a Guard
Lead the league 3 times in steals
Short list of Results that Matter
6 Finals MVPs
5 Regular Season MVPs
Far as Evolution…
Statistically speaking his numbers still outweigh the great players after him, even though they have the benefits of an “evolved” game. Michael Jordan was a head of his time; I would argue maybe 20 to 30 years head of his time. He was a far superior athlete to any of his contemporaries; he married unbelievable skills with amazing talent, and sealed it with a crazy’s man competitive drive.
You drop him in today’s “Evolved” game with spacing, tempo and three’s, Michael’s all-time high career per game averages, earned during a time of bogged down play with a slower pace , less spacing, while defenders beat his ass when driving into the paint, would no doubt jump significantly.
An evolved game doesn’t always equal a more difficult game. One example, LeBron just finished playing a final series where many times he was the tallest player on the court at 6’8. No true rim protector existed on the floor to detract him from easy lay-ups or attacking the basket. Another example, Jordan played during an era where defenders grabbed and rode the hips of players around the court, in today’s game that’s a no go. The rules have been adjusted to allow the offensive player more freedom, making the offensive game easier… If these post Jordan players are so great and evolved why aren't they trumping Jordan's per game averages in an easier game?
Michael would dominate yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
In the 80s before he broke through, he lost to dynasties and championship caliber teams ( Pistons, Celtics, and Lakers)
In the 90s, he was the reason no one else succeeded in establishing a dynasty…
The Knicks were on the verge but they could never get through MJ.
The Magic had a young dynamic duo that failed at getting over the hump. Even after initialing defeating him a few months after his first return.
The Utah Jazz had two all-time great players that were shut out due to MJ. That’s three teams that should have won with their superstars but ran into the GOAT so history took on a different narrative. You don’t get cool points for competing against dynasties, you get cool points for being the reason no dynasties were established.
Jordan defeated his share of superstars in their prime: Magic (greatest point guard ever), Barkley (the first dominant small power forward), Drexler (Considered the second best shooting guard in the NBA while he played), Kemp and Payton, and Stockton and Malone (All-time assist and steals leader and the second all-time leading scorer).
He also defeated dominant big man centers (Ewing, Shaq, Hakeem, and David Robinson) LeBron has never competed against this type of superstar. Dwight Howard was the closest thing with the Magic and the Cavs lost but it’s cool some people think LeBron stills deserves a “Silver Medal” for that one…
Subjective traits …
Jordan Never “No showed” in the moment: this is my biggest knock against LeBron. LeBron is the only player in my opinion that should be mentioned with Jordan. But, LeBron has moments of him checking out mentally and not giving the team his best (Boston and Dallas on the big stages), which is somewhat understandable given the burden he carried. Much of the no shows were erased for me when he completed the greatest comeback of all time against the greatest regular season team of all time. And too be quite honest metaphorically speaking and not literal LeBron’s whole career should be considered clutch because the huge of amount of hype he overcame.
He’s an original: this my biggest knock against Kobe, who shouldn’t even be mentioned with Jordan. Kobe basically mimicked Jordan’s entire game and ended up doing nothing better than him (upon editing and review, I realized I lied he shot the three better than Jordan but I believe if the three played a more important role during his time Jordan would have shot that better as well). He copied moves, gestures, celebration, cliché phrases, it’s just something to be said for being an original and creating the model that everyone wants to copy… and no one can quite master as well.
Most Clutch Player: for me this equals moments, moments were all eyes were on the player to come through when it counted most… Just a quick YouTube search to re-jog your memory and its evident he has the best moments ever in playoff and finals history.
MJ is still the best based on per game averages, moments of clutchness, and unbelievable skill, character and ability. LeBron no doubt is a better passer and rebounder than Jordan, and coupled with LeBron’s ability to score and defensibly being able to guard more positions, he may overtake Jordan one day but for me LeBron’s history of coming up short still bothers me. If it wasn’t for Kyrie making the greatest shot of all time, LeBron lets the greatest comeback ever slip away. If my life rested in the hands of one player at the end of a game MJ would be my guy and LeBron wouldn’t even be in my next 4 players to take the shot.
In the final minutes of a game clinching final series LeBron raced down the court to get the best block of all-time. Then he came down the court and missed a point blank running hook in front of the rim, and somehow after the Cavs got another stop to give them another chance. Coach called timeout. Drew up a play for LeBron right, because LeBron’s the best player right? AINTTTTTT he calls an iso for Kyrie Irving and Kyrie seals the deal.
Okay now Jordan, in the waning moments of the clinching game in the 1998 finals. Jordan sneaks around on d looking for an opportunity to seize the moment like a preying lion. He steals the ball from the second all-time leading scorer Karl Malone who never sees him. Coach doesn’t call a timeout, balls never leaves Jordan’s hands. He isolates the ball on the left wing and takes his defender right, pulls back at the top just above the free throw line and with no doubt sinks and seals his sixth championship title. And that in short is the difference between the Second greatest player of All-Time and the G.O.A.T.