NBA Greatest of All-Time Debate

Hey there sports fans! Yes I know this is back-to-back posts about sports, but hey why not?

So in a pointless exercise, I got into a Facebook thread debate about who is the best of All-Time: Michael Jordan or LeBron James. From my perspective this limited the argument to just these two players and discounted the vast history of the NBA and it predecessor the ABA.

Player Games Points FT % FTM FTA REB ASST STL BLK TO TITLES REG MVP FINALS MVP POS
LeBron James 1072 29,105 74.0% 6,526 8,814 7,788 7,561 1,765 830 3,665 3 4 3 F
Julius Erving 1243 30,026 77.7% 6,256 8,052 10,525 5,176 2,272 1,971 3,940 3 4 0 SF
Michael Jordan 1072 32,292 83.5% 7,327 8,772 6,672 5,633 2,514 893 2,924 6 5 6 G
Shaquille O’Neal 1207 28,596 52.7% 5,935 11,252 13,099 3,026 739 2,732 3,310 4 1 3 C
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1560 38,387 72.1% 6712 9304 17,440 5660 1160 3189 2527 6 6 2 C

This argument went back and forth much like the tides hitting the beaches of North Carolina which is to say the pattern was relentless with no end in sight. I have always been very pro-Jordan and most of today’s dunk-and-three-pointer society thinks LeBron is the end-all, be-all of NBA play. Don’t get me wrong, LeBron is probably the best player over the last five or so years in the current NBA. But I do not think he surpasses MJ. Michael Jordan got more out of arguably less physical talents not only within himself but also of his teammates. Where LeBron has obvious physical gifts and talent, Jordan was not as blessed with as much and had to work harder for it, in my opinion.

The person who started the thread, whom we will call Tyler to protect his identity, posted an NBA video link on his timeline. He started his argument for why LeBron should be considered better than Jordan by stating: Tell me why Jordan is better than LeBron and don’t say six (championship) rings. Like I said, I took this to be a straight Jordan-LeBron fight. If you look up above, you will see that I posted a small sample table of stats for five players. All of the players listed are Hall Of Famers or future Hall Of Famers. Please note that there are several notable missing players that could be included for comparison purposes but for time and spare considerations, I left them off. You’ll notice for the stats listed above, LeBron only leads in the Assists category but he is far from catching the all-time leader (John Stockton – 15,806).

The argument that today’s NBA is radically different than the league was from 10-20-30 years ago is very valid. The 3-point shot is much more prevalent and defensive philosophies are greatly relaxed if not outright forgotten. Today’s game is about power dunks and dozens of three point shots per game. Certain skill sets have been made extinct and the center position is not the center of the universe as it was in decades past.

Once the Facebook thread started to breakdown into an effort to bully the topic and be ridiculous, I broke off and acknowledged some of the greats that were being treated like second class citizens in the wake of LeBron-mania. Take multiple time World Champion Shaquille O’Neal for example. If you exclude his weak free throw prowess, the man grabbed 13,099 rebounds and helped propel his teams to four championships (1 more than LeBron). Wilt Chamberlain, who is the all-time rebounding leader for the NBA with a whopping 23,924, had a pair of NBA championships and a 100-point scoring game (LeBron has 0 100-point scoring games to date). If you want to turn this into a numbers fight, LeBron for his career on average makes three out of every four free throws while Jordan averaged making better than four out of five. The Great Dr. J, Julius Erving, bettered LBJ as well by making 77.7% of his free throws to LBJ’s 74.0%. If we go heads up with LBJ versus Dr. J in the defensive categories of Steals and Blocked Shots – the Doctor slams LBJ by a wide margin: Steals – LBJ 1765 Dr J 2272, Blocks – LBJ 830 Dr J 1971. Even these stars fall far short of those category leaders all-time: Steals – John Stockton 3265, Blocks – Hakeem Olajuwon 3830.

Many of these arguments are moot and silly as different position players have different responsibilities on the court that vary greatly from team to team and era to era. But for those people who want to tear down the Michael Jordan legacy to hand over to LeBron, OK go for it…but know this, that doesn’t make LBJ the greatest of all-time. There are plenty of those other legends with their names in the record books that LeBron will never even sniff their achievements(even if he can remain healthy for another 4-5 years). If you follow history, it tells us that big bodies will start to break down and the wear and tear will show. Just ask Shaquille O’Neal, who was the most dominant center during his prime NBA years, how unkind Father Time can be. Towards the end of his career couldn’t play more than three to four games without the accumulated injuries holding him out of action.

Full disclosure, I do not watch much of the NBA these days. I find the product uninteresting because I don’t have a tremendous desire to follow any of the current stars. Back in my younger days, I liked to watch Julius Erving, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dominique Wilkins, Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, Paul Pierce, Moses Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Spud Webb, Muggsy Bogues and several others. There were rivalries and actual basketball to watch. Nowadays there is a: fast break dunk, fast break and a dunk, fast break and a three-pointer. When they aren’t fast breaking and things set up in the half court set, the players are engaged in more physical contact than an MMA fight. Just give those guys helmets and shoulder pads because that isn’t basketball the way the game was drawn up in the rules.

I re-posted the thread on the Facebook page for Sports Stalkers if anyone wants to waste an hour reading all the hot garbage contained in there. But I implore you to find something more constructive to do like building a castle out of non-frozen dog turds and Pixie Stix.

OK that’s enough for today. Hope you are having a health-healthy good day. Talk to you later alligators!

Peace.

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