Those who think LeBron James is a better player than Michael Jordan ever was have a new statistic to strengthen their argument.
Lakers star James moved ahead of Jordan into fourth in the NBA’s all-time points list when he overhauled the former Bulls great’s total of 32,292 on Wednesday.
It is unlikely to end the debate over who is the greatest of all time, though, with Jordan still ahead in championship wins — six to James’ three — and MVP awards — five to James’ four.
To mark James surpassing Jordan’s points haul, two Omnisport writers make the case for who is basketball’s greatest ever.
The case for Michael Jordan
By Tom Webber
Asked which feat was harder out of James Harden’s run of 30 straight 30-point games and Russell Westbrook’s 10 consecutive triple-doubles during All-Star weekend in Charlotte last month, Jordan replied with a smile: “Six championships, by all means.”
You’d have to think his answer would be the same if he had to factor making the NBA Finals for eight seasons in a row into the equation, too.
— Jordan (@Jumpman23) January 17, 2019
In an era dominated by hard, physical defense, the notorious Pistons looked set to reign at the end of the rivalry between the Lakers and the Boston Celtics in the late 1980s.
Jordan’s style stood in stark contrast to the Pistons and his agility and athleticism was unparalleled, making him an enthralling watch for basketball fans across the globe.
He is also a two-time Olympic champion and retains the best points-per-game average of any NBA player in history at 30.1.
James couldn’t wear the number 23 with the Heat because president Pat Riley had honored Jordan by retiring it, even though the shooting guard never played for the franchise. That’s how good he was.
James has dominated a period in basketball, but he has not defined one like Jordan.
The case for LeBron James
By Liam Blackburn
Put simply, no athlete in history has had to cope with the hype bestowed upon James — dubbed ‘The Chosen One’ on a Sports Illustrated cover as a 17-year-old — and he has not only lived up to the billing but exceeded those expectations.
Ohio’s favorite son put an entire city on his back to end Cleveland’s title drought and deliver the Cavaliers their first ever championship in 2016.
I literally have no words! I guess like @realcoleworld said “Even when the dark out, the sun is shining somewhere”. Throughout it all no matter good or bad appreciate the journey. Thank you to all who continue to take this journey with me. #thekidfromakron #striveforgreatness #jamesgang
The Cavs were down 3-1 to one of the greatest teams ever assembled and James stepped up with back-to-back 41-point displays against the Warriors before a triple-double and ‘The Block’ cemented his Finals MVP award in Game 7.
It was James’ third title and, in his view, affirmation he was the greatest to ever take to the hardwood.
The Finals losses should not count against him. Eight appearances in a row, with two different teams, carries more credence than Jordan’s 6-0, and if titles alone were the yardstick to measure potential GOATs by, Bill Russell would be grazing in the field with his 11 rings anyway.
Jordan was ahead of his time in the way he played the game but James is still dominating, 16 years on from his NBA debut, in a league unrecognizable from the one ‘The Chosen One’ first entered.
Jordan took basketball to new heights, but James has raised the bar again.