LAS VEGAS - The debate of the GOAT has sparked again and is heated more than ever after Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers got swept in the NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors. Sports analyst Skip Bayless said that Lebron James should never be mentioned in the same sentence as Michael 'Jeffrey' Jordan. On the other hand we have hall of fame tight end Shannon Sharp who claims that Lebron already surpassed Jordan. There are a lot of opinions from different people regarding the GOAT discussion. In this article, we will give straight facts and we will try to help you to determine who the GOAT is.
The King from Akron:
LeBron used to play high school basketball for St. Vincent-St.Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, where the media celebrated him as the next NBA star. LeBron joined the Cavaliers in 2003. He went on to emerge as a league star and finished his first season by winning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. He proved himself as one of the most valuable players of NBA and received awards in 2009 and 2010 for it. There are three strong arguments that can be used in the GOAT debate.
Firstly, Lebron James can do it all. James is averaging 27.2 points on 50.4% shooting for this career. He is also dishing out 7.2 assists and grabbing 7.4 rebounds for his career. Lebron James will belittle Jordan in all the individual stats at the end of his career. James will have more points, rebounds, assists and steals. Lebron James is also more durable than Michael Jordan. Lebron James played more and missed less games than Michael Jordan if we look at the first 15 seasons both players played in the NBA. So, one can say that Lebron James is more about making the players around him better and his durability shows that he is always ready to play for his team.
Secondly, doing magic with little. The case can be made that James had almost no help from other players. Lebron James reached the NBA Finals nine times with different teams and he was an underdog in seven of those nine finals. The only help Lebron James got was from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh when he joined the Miami Heat. The years with the Heat were also the years James was favoured in the NBA Finals. On the other hand we have Michael Jordan who could count on Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson in the period that he won six NBA Titles.
Thirdly, Lebron James is a much better professional than Michael Jordan. James is more durable than Jordan and the reason for that is that James takes better care of his body. Lebron James never had a long-term injury. James is also more loyal to the game of basketball and never lets go of an opportunity to promote the game. Furthermore, James is also speaking out on social issues whenever possible.
There are some critical points to make about Lebron James. The first one is his 3-6 NBA Finals record. Is it possible that a player with that record is considered the GOAT? The second point is the meltdown Lebron James had in the 2011 NBA Finals. James and the Miami Heat were heavy favourites to win it all, but James couldn’t get it done. Can these points take LeBron one step away from being the GOAT?
Air Jordan from Brooklyn:
Jordan came from the University of North California where he played for coach Dean Smith. When he was a freshman, he played for the Tar Heels in their championship in 1982. Jordan joined the Bulls in 1984 after he was selected third in the NBA draft. He emerged as a league star in no time and became the heart of the game. There are three strong arguments that can be used in the GOAT debate.
Firstly, 6-0 in the NBA Finals. Jordan's 6-0 in the NBA finals is the highlight of his career. Jordan not only was the great in the regular season but he delivered at the most crucial times. One can say that this is the most flawless record in sports history. Lebron James played 3-6 in the NBA Finals, so Jordan has the edge in finals wins.
Secondly, Jordan did it both. Jordan was a better scorer and defensive player than James. Jordan holds ten scoring titles and was selected nine times for the NBA all- defensive teams. Lebron James doesn’t even come close to the scoring titles and the selections for the NBA all-defensive teams.
Thirdly, Jordan played in a rougher era. Michael Jordan played in an era which was much rougher than today’s game. Hand checking was allowed and stopped players from scoring points. In those rough conditions, MJ was able to end his career with an average of 30 points. One can say that if MJ were to play in the modern times NBA, he would have an average of over 40 points per game.
There are some critical points to make about Michael Jordan. The first point is that Michael Jordan could never win a ring without Pippen and Phil Jackson. Jordan didn’t even reach the NBA Finals before Pippen and Phil Jackson. The second point is that Jordan wasn’t a great professional. Jordan was heavily involved in gambling and he left the NBA to play baseball. Can these points prove that Jordan is not the GOAT of the NBA ?
So, we have tried to contrast two great players on their abilities and accomplishments. It is truly impossible to get a clear cut answer for this. Had they played in the same era, we could have gotten a little bit closer to settling the debate. We really want to know what you think.
Who do you think is the GOAT of NBA? Let us know in the comments.