I hate this debate. But after 2 months of stay at home and more than a month of “The Last Dance”, I’ll finally bite on this clickbait debate. Chuck Klosterman recently said in an interview, he thinks Michael Jordan is a better basketball player, but Lebron James is better at playing basketball than Michael Jordan. Confused? This seems like a very Meta statement to make, or middle of the road at the very least, there could be some validity to the claim. Lebron has physical talents that nobody else does and 3 championships that, well quite a few players in the NBA have 3 championships, but I guess you would have to say that Lebron was the best player on 3 championship teams.
Lebron can do things that nobody else can do, feats that make your jaw drop, but he’s not better than Jordan and here’s why. If we matched these two up in a game of one on one, each player at the absolute pinnacle of their ability, Jordan would DECIMATE Lebron James. I believe that if Jordan were asked right now how he would play Lebron one on one, he already has a game plan thought out. Though I also believe that Jordan probably falls asleep every night thinking about how he would attack each and every player in the NBA. Lebron would likely spend more time coordinating his sneakers to his shorts, to what type of top he’d wear and whether or not he’d sport a head band for the contest than how he’d actually play basketball against MJ.
What settled it for me is this: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce dogged Lebron unmercifully when Boston beat the Cavs in 2010 and came within an eyelash of beating him in Miami in 2012 (when the Celtics had ZERO business going 7 games with that Heat team). KG is an all-time trash talker, but we’ve just watched 10-hours of how competitive and maniacal Jordan could be with teammates AND opponents, do you think there is any chance he wouldn’t leave Lebron in tears?
I’m becoming an old man, because most of my feelings about this argument sound like I’m saying players today aren’t as good as they used to be. I don’t believe that, I believe the game is different today and not as good. I believe that Jordan in 2020 would be remarkable, in 1992 there were the Jordan Rules, which meant if he left his feet then the Pistons had to knock him to the floor. MJ vs today’s league would be a molten hot splitting maul through a stick of Blue Bonnet.
Jordan would beat Lebron because he HAS TO BEAT LEBRON. Lebron would accept losing because he’d challenge Jordan to a one on one rematch, and bring Giannis to play with him to even up the sides. Lebron doesn’t like competition, MJ needs it.
By Sterling Pingree