There's been something of a long held view now, (with the help of the 10 part series I've conveniently already forgotten the name of because of it's clear propaganda value), that Michael Jordan is the GOAT. He's certainly one of the greatest ever, but I think it's pretty clear LeBron James has ripped that title away fom MJ. Here's a really quick snippet to consider, which favors LBJ heavily, think back to 1994, the year the Bulls went a full season w/o the 'GOAT'. Would you care to guess the Bulls records w/o the greatest player ever? They must've struggled to eke out a playoff spot, right? Oh sure, maybe they got to about .500, (41 games) but certainly not much more than that... right? Try 53 wins, 3rd in the east and a bad call away from getting to another NBA Finals appearance... WITHOUT MICHAEL JORDAN!!! The greatest ever!!!
Now, can you honestly name a LBJ team that could win 50 w/o him? The 2013 team w/ D Wade, Ray Allen, and Chris Bosh was probably the best team LBJ had up until now w/ AD. Could that team win 50 w/o LeBron? Any team is easily gonna lose at least 10 games w/o LBJ.... Maybe, MAYBE, maybe that 2013 team wins 50, even in the East, but just as easily could just get to 45... How 'bout those Cleveland teams? You kidding me? They may not win 30... C'mon ya'll, if I didn't'y go any further that ghis, it'd be a compelling argument. But, speaking of the 2013 Heat, ya know who they beat that year? The Spurs, w/ a legit 4 Hall Of Famers: Manu, Duncan, Tony Parker, & Kawhi (I know you'd say he was too young, but the next year he's the Finals MVP!) How 'bout the year before, beating OKC (3 HOF's, figure 'em out. I know you're saying, 'they're too young to considered HOF,' but they got to an NBA Finals. KD played in 3 total.)
|MJ thinking, "How many HOFers did I beat?"|
How many HOF did MJ's Bulls beat? Well, the first title against LA you had Magic & Worthy but Big game James got hurt midway through the series as did Byron Scott (had they not got hurt in game 4 they were cruising to double digit win which would've tied it a 2-2.) After that ,Portland had 1 w/ Clyde, Phoenix Suns had 1 w Charles (Ainge was on that team but prob not HOFer), Seattle w/ Gary Payton, then Utah w Stockton & Malone. So clearly, MJ never beat a team w/ more than 2 HOF whereas LeBron beat teams w/ both 3, 3, & 4 legit HOfers. And, though the East was regarded as tougher than the West throughout the 80's & 90's one of the Bulls biggest challenges getting out of the East (other than Detroit obviously) was my beloved NY Knicks. My NY Knicks w/ 2 starters from the CBA scrapheap (more on this later...) While we're on the subject of quality of competition, look at the difference in the eras? Many folks would say, 'gee Joe, how do determine that w/ all those great players in the 80's & 90's?' Simple, think of the principle of dilution... What if we would add 4 more teams to the current NBA in the next 2 years? What would that do to the talent base? Would it dilute the talent pool, water it down a tad? Umm, not hard to figure it out, it'd dilute by about 12% or so... Guess what happened from 1988-1990 in the NBA? they added 4 new teams!!
Now, you sit there & say to yourself 'ok, fine metrics nerd, with your diluting the talent pool nonsense, but MJ still coulda beat whomever...' Hmmm, maybe, actually probably not. Remember when I mentioned my beloved Knicks earlier, w/ their two rotation guys John Starks & Anthony Mason (RIP Mace) from the CBA? Well, gee, why ya think that was? Because clearly w/ the 4 new teams added to the League, they had to find other avenues for players. Ask yourself this: how many current rosters that get to a Conference Finals have 2 G-League players? Huh buddy boy, how many? How 'bout NONE!!!!! Imagine if the NYK had a few extra picks, imagine them w/ a few more shooters on the roster? A team that took MJ & Bulls to 7 in '92 & was up 2-0 in Conference Finals in '93. It would be very easy to wipe a few titles off the board, then add a few more pieces for everyone else & those 6 titles are in peril. Is that maybe why it took MJ 7 years to win a title? Is that why he couldn't even get to a Conference Finals pre- expansion? Oh don't worry Max Kellerman, I can hear you now: "The first time MJ played w/ another All-Star he got a chip..." Oh is that right, Schlemeil? Yeah, really? How 'bout when you play w/ a Rookie of the Year, a 1st team all- defender, AND a guy who LEADS THE DAMN LEAGUE IN REBOUNDING 2 YEARS IN A ROW!!!! I call that another All Star, guess what? With Charles Oakley & Scottie Pippen the Bulls still got BOUNCED, several times!
There goes that theory out the window, Max. (Yes, in 1987 Charles Barkley, #1 had a higher average than did Oakley#2, but Oak had more total rebounds AND in 1988 Oak lead in both average & total & Oak never got hurt, he played every game!) So don't sit there & tell me MJ didn't have anybody before Scottie. You could easily say Oak was one of best 3 or so power forwards in the game, period! See, here's the key to the Chicago Bulls winning all those titles, it's the reason the Bulls won 53 w/o MJ. It's Scottie Pippen! What? Get out, absurd! Blasphemy! Well, Bulls lost in game 7 to Detroit in Conf Finals in 1990... Why? Scottie had a migraine. NY Knicks were only team in 6 year run to take Bulls 7 in '92. Why? Xman Xavier McDaniel beat up on Da Pip! Only time Bulls were ever down 0-2 in '93, why? Mace beating up on Pip! Bulls won 53 w/o Jordan, more WAY MORE GAMES THAN MJ EVER WON W/O PIPPEN! Scottie Pippen! Think about it, just let it stew awhile & think about it....
LeBron? Third year, w/ NO ONE else on that team, No one even coming remotely close to a Charles Oakley, LBJ took his Cleveland team to a Finals, he loses to the Spurs 3 HOFers. Then he puts together a run of 8 straight Finals, 10 total and look at some of those Cle teams. In 2015 w/ no Kyrie nor KLove, he's literally inches away from taking the Warriors 7. In 2016 he beats the best record ever in the League. In 2018, a team of absolute spare parts: no Kyrie, only Kevin Love now & literally not much else. (Tristan Thompson prob next best player. He'd still not be as good as a Charles Oakley.) And yet, here's LeBron James scoring 51 points, 8Reb, 8 assists, 1 steal, 1 block and if not for major bonehead play by JR Smith, steals a game 1 from one of the greatest teams ever. Now seriously, can anyone say w/ a straight face that MJ could take that 2018 Cleveland team to an NBA Finals? I'd argue MJ's 1988, '89, '90 teams were all better rosters than Cle & yet he couldn't even get to a Finals. How bout just mano e mano, seriously, is there any doubt w/ his superior size & strength that LBJ couldn't beat MJ in 1 on 1. LBJ could stop MJ once in awhile, but you can't say the same for MJ stopping LBJ. Then let's just dispose of this myth of MJ being this great defender. I don't care how many All- defensive teams he made, MJ one on one, was never a great defender the way Scottie Pippen or Horace Grant were. MJ got a lot of steals & was certainly a good, solid defender but he was nowhere the two way player, say, Joe Dumars was... Why do you think MJ lost to Dumars & Detroit 4 STRAIGHT TIMES!!
C'mon folks, it's time to stop w/ this 'back in my day, son' bias that's just a lotta BULL!! I feel pretty confident I've proved demonstrably that LBJ is the GOAT. LeBron James is like Magic, MJ, Pippen all rolled into the body of Karl Malone. He's a freak, a modern marvel of various forms of sports medicine & just a freak of nature. And yes, of course, Michael Jordon is one of gthe greatest to ever lace up sneakers, he's just not quite as good as LeBron... And, it's not really that close!