Out Of Bounds: Lebron is Better Than Jordan (Extra Long Read)
Honestly surve, if you had better organized your thoughts and really done some research (ie. winning percentages, breaking down the teams Michael and LeBron played on rather than just pointing to LeBron leading bad teams to wins and Michael not without Scottie), this could have been much more effective. I think you put a lot of work into writing it, just did not do all of the research you could have. Not to mention while you said their was no emotion, it seemed like their was a lot. It was semi-refreshing to see emotion for LeBron rather than against him (in my opinion, lol), just think that it turned into you splitting hairs on some kind of less than stellar claims.
Delving into players as "winners" or "losers" takes a lot of work. Your argument was pretty broad and the way you went about it definitely favored LeBron's regular season accomplishments in the win department. The thing it left out was leadership and prowess in the post-season. As great as LeBron has been in the post-season (he has been exceptional, as much as people tend to point out otherwise), Michael Jordan was at a level unsurpassed. The reason I point out his averages is because they are incredible. They are to the point where any season you say "how could someone have done more"?
With LeBron in the Boston and Dallas series of 2010 and 11, he left you wanting a lot more. Even with his teams success in the regular season, is that not part of questioning a person as a winner in general? Michael came up short in 1989 and 90, yet still was never really stopped. That first championship season, he was the best he had ever been. Much of the same can be said for LeBron's 9th season, yet even with his carrying of those Cleveland teams to huge winning marks, could you still not question his ability to lead a team to the ultimate mark more so than a guy like Michael who never seemed to crack? I think you know what I am getting at. I am not just talking about Michael having six rings, just his ability to always give it his all when it mattered the most.
LeBron did that this season, he has done it before, yet he still needs to do quite a bit more before I feel he has passed Michael Jordan. When you compare them at the age of 27, I still feel Michael was indeed the better player and had a will to win he had displayed even more so than LeBron. I still think it is early for LeBron, that he did indeed face far different circumstances and obviously did not have the tools to win on his original franchise. Just also know that LeBron probably takes accountability for his letdowns and Michael does as well. Still feel that Michael was always dominant to a point we had never seen combined with team success and that LeBron did indeed play less than stellar those two seasons before he finally got his championship. As much as you felt rings were looked at too much in this debate, had LeBron not won his would you have posted this? My feeling is, as impressive and valuable as LeBron has shown himself to be, Michael Jordan had quite a bit of his own that you seemed to not give full credit to. While winning itself is impressive, winning championships when you have the ability and the chance to do so is the ultimate to me. Lets just say, I feel LeBron finally jumped this hurdle, just think he needs to keep racing.
You think Lebron and his "Taylor made bums" could get past the 90-91 Knicks and Pistons? The 91-92 Knicks and Cavs? or the 92-93 Hawks, Cavs and Knicks?
I don't the East was a lot harder back then.
There is an "EXTREME" amount of bias in this topic like it always is whenever someone is compared to Jordan(Especially Lebron). To say Lebron is better than Jordan or will be better than Jordan for now is a little far fetched, but to say Lebron is not on Jordans level is downright absurd.
Looking at MJ's 4th season in the league(87-88, 24 years old) and Lebron's 4th year in the league(06-07, 22 years old), both carried an average team to a 50-32 record, except Lebron's Cavs made it to the finals, and MJ's Bulls fell to the Pistons in 5 in the second round.
I feel you guys are throwing out a lot of stats and I appreciate Surve for making a great thread like this, but really it's quite simple: Look at the rosters Lebron and Jordan each had before their first tittle and see which you believe had the better supporting cast.
Now before we look at plain numbers, let's remember that Lebron's 07 team was 19th in the league in scoring at 96.8 ppg. MJ's team was also 19th, but that was out of 23 teams, however they scored 105 ppg. Both teams were top 5 defensive teams, MJ's Bulls led the league in opponents ppg at 101.6, while Lebron's team ws 5th in that cataogory at 92.9.
As you can infer by those stats, the pace back inteh late 80s was emteremly fast, crazy compared to what we have nowdays. That also explains why MJ had seasons averaging 35, 37, and averaged 32 for a majority of years, while Lebron has been mostly around 27-29, with his peak at 31.
Back to the topic, Lebron's main helpers were Larry Hughes(28 years old, 15 ppg, stunk it up in the playoffs, don't need stats to remember that one) Ilgauskas(31 years old, 12 and 7) and Drew Gooden(25 years old, 11 and 8) with Sasha Pavlovic scoring 9 a game, and Varejao, Donyell Marshall, and Damon Jones scoring 7 a game. And we all know Boogie Gibson helped big time in the playoffs.
MJ had similar production from his role players, Sam Vincent was a mid-season aquisition from the Sonics, who had averages way above his career averages the 29 games he spent with the Bulls, averaging 13 and 8 with them. The Bulls were 31-22 when they got him, and went 19 and 10 for the remainder of the season, including winning 13 of their last 17 games. However he also stunk it up in the playoffs, and his assists nearly split in half, and he never averaged more than 5 dimes a game. They had a young 24 year old Charles Oakley, a monster that was getting 12 and 13 a game. Dave Corzine averaged 10 and 6.6, Brad Seller averaged 10 a game as well, and then you had the young pups, Paxon, Pippen, and Grant, who all played 20 minutes per game, and averaged 8 points per game, and Grant added in 5 boards per game. In the playoffs they had 4 guys who scored exactly 10 per game, while Jordan scored 36, but that team just wasn't ready fro an extended tittle run, but soon enought they would be ready.
One thing I was wondering, what if they didn't trade Oakley for Cartwright? I know Carwright was the lockeroom presence and he was the leader on that team just as much as MJ was, but imagine if they had Oakley, Grant, Pippen, and Jordan? However Cartwright did give them 4 productive years, and that allowed Grant to get more playing time, so I guess it all worked out.
Looking at their teams in their early days, they both had mediocore role players and had to put the team on their backs every game. The Bulls drafted well and landed Pippen and Grant, however the Cavs did not do anything as such. I know I didn't really prove anything, but just wanted to lay it all out and show that they both had sucky supporting casts, and that it really is amazing that Lebron got to the Finals in 07.
And how the hell did the Bulls make the playoff in the 85-86 season? They were 30-52!(not MJ's fault, only played 18 games that season due to a foot injury. Also didn't know George Gervin finished up his career in Chicago, the year MJ was hurt, averaged 16 in 25 mpg, but retired the following season.
You look at Oak's numbers and say that he would have maybe helped more, but Cartwright was 7-1 and a true pivot. As much as Oak was a tough b@stard and fantastic rebounder, he was young and 5 inches shorter. I think they needed to make a decision between Oakley and Grant, they went with the slightly younger tall kid. Also, remember that Bill Cartwright was a former third pick in the draft, a one time All-Star and had a butter shot. Having a true center like that can be a big help.
Now, I know PER has its downfalls and it is not a statistic I see as the gospel. Still, it can kind of tell a part of a story, which I think it does as far as the LeBron vs. Michael 4th year thing goes. The "average" PER is always 15. In Michael's 4th season, his was an insane 31.7 to LeBron's 24.5, which is not my point. My point is, the PER of their immediate help. You had Zydrunas Ilgauskas at 18.0 (solid, even if he was just that and not incredible) and Drew Gooden at 16.5, Andy Verajao at 14.4, Donyell Marshall 15.3 and Larry Hughes at 12.1 (ugh. That Larry Hughes deal was a panic move and it SUCKED). In the play-offs, Boobie Gibson was huge, Ilgauskas was the same, Gooden at 15.7, Andy at 14.9, Hughes below 10, Marshall below 10. Not great at all.
Now, Michael's fourth year squad had no Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Oakley may have been a better version of Drew Gooden, yet he had a 15.4 PER. Sam Vincent had a 16.1 (in 29 games as Aamir mentioned), which went to an 8.3 (worse than Larry Hughes). Scottie and Horace were both rookies, with PER's around 13. They had Dave Corzine at 13.6 in the regular season, in the post-season 5! 5! He was playing over 30 minutes per game. Horace did a solid 15.4 in the play-offs, Scottie only did 10.
My ultimate point is, I do not know if Michael Jordan was indeed better than LeBron in year 4 (though statistically speaking, it would look that way). What I do know is, LeBron's title team certainly looked like they had more help than Michael's team during his 4th year. I think it would have helped to have more of a breakdown besides Scottie and crew doing pretty well after MJ left (plus Scottie after MJ is irrelevant, none of his teams won titles and while he was solid, he was not close to the same. Michael flat out never got a chance to play without Scottie from ages 22-38). Surve may point to LeBron's team at age 24 being 66-16. I will point to say that team was even more balanced and had more help overall than his championship team. The issue? The development of a Celtic and Magic team that made the East that much more formidable of a conference those two seasons later.
Was MJ in 1988 better than Lebron in 2007? Yes, no doubt. Was Lebron's supporting cast a little bit better? Yes. But that doesn't take away from the fact that Lebron was amazing in his own right and that he definatly carried an average group of guys to the finals. That team definatly overachieved that year, thanks to Lebron. Now do I believe MJ would have been able to do the same? Absolutly, but that doesn't mean I don't think that Lebron was amazing that season.
MJ is better than Lebron--for now. Time will tell what happens in the future, but up till this point, Lebron has a legit shot to be the GOAT when all is said and done.
Was not amazing. It was, blew my fragile little mind. Game 5 of that Pistons series was unbelievable. LeBron making the Finals with that team that season had me telling my friends I could see him being the best player of all time. Just an amazing accomplishment. Still, what you say about Michael Jordan:
Now do I believe MJ would have been able to do the same? Absolut(e)ly, but that doesn't mean I don't think that Lebron was amazing that season.
What I was saying takes nothing away from what LeBron did. It goes more along the lines that surve using this as a way to say LeBron was more of a winner or a better winning player than LeBron might not necessarily be true. I would not say MJ would have "absolutely" led that team to the Finals. Just, from his track record as a player, it certainly would be a possibility.
Michael Jordan may not have won more than he lost without Scottie, but he was developing as a player, same way that LeBron was. I dare say, LeBron's teams his first few years were indeed better than Michael Jordan's. As Michael and his team developed, added pieces, I think eventually they could indeed compete and compete well with the 2009 Cavs 66-16 team (57-25 Bulls team would be one hell of a match-up in my mind). If you read what I posted here Aamir, I think I have been making the exact same claims you are seemingly trying to inform me of.
Even if someone is better than Jordan, no one is going to admit it because Jordan has been put on this pedestal by the media.
Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of All Time in my opinion. I think that is a consensus opinion. However, where I make a left turn is....I believe that unequivocally, Lebron is the best player of All Time...and better than Jordan. Jordan is the greatest because he was one of the top 5 players of all time without a doubt and he had the one of the most amazing careers of any modern day athlete. We know his accolades, they have been cited many times over.
Now, I am assuming:
Greatest=Most accomplished career, incredible individual numbers, six championship rings, complete and utter dominance.
Best=A flat out better player who could do more to help a team win than any other player in history.
However, you go on mixing the two up and never really giving a CLEAR definition. You say you use stats and evidence, though you seem to use them only in support of your argument. When we say stats, you say totals. When we say rings, you say regular season wins. When we say he had help, you claim Michael had even more so and LeBron did not need his. See where this went? Just in absolute circles, with emotion that certainly need not be tied to it.
Man, to say everyone is just blinded by Jordan is a tad ridiculous. Yes, he is the popular opinion as the greatest player of All-Time. However, I even said I was hoping LeBron might be even better. LeBron has been great, but I still am not even close to certain he was better and I feel their accomplishments as far as winning, even with LeBron having two more years along your age guidelines, are very similar.
The NBA was different in Michael Jordan's first few years. Losing teams used to make the play-offs, often. As a matter of fact, their were only 23 total teams! This led to a lot smaller league, greater competition and more often than not, a greater divide between the top of the league and the bottom. Over Scottie Pippen's first few years, they added a few more teams and the league definitely shifted. Still, before Michael Jordan won a championship, he was in an 80's that had 8 Championships won by two teams.
Lets face it, the NBA landscape in both conferences were very different and relegated to a select few teams. The Bulls were not even in the equation until Michael got at least some sufficient help. LeBron was in very much the same place until the Cavs got him some pieces as well. Unfortunately, the Cavs were not able to draft these pieces and develop them with LeBron. Michael was lucky enough to get a Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant to grow with. LeBron had bupkis. Still, he led the bupkis to a lot of wins, even a title game. Nonetheless, he came up short.
A lot of the blame is not on LeBron's shoulders. His teams simply did not have the pieces necessary to compete with some tougher opponents that caused mismatches. For the Jordan Bulls, it was gaining a bit of toughness and experience. For LeBron, it was going to a team with some pieces to help him compete at a higher level. I do not fault LeBron for this, he is a victim of circumstance. Still, I do not look at what he did with the Cavs and say "No way could Michael Jordan have done that."
As much as LeBron is a victim of circumstance according to peoples perception of his whimping out by joining the Heat, it seems that Michael Jordan to you is a victim of circumstance to you. Scottie Pippen played a year without Michael Jordan and did well. Still, while he was on a high level that year, could he lead that team during the post-season? Could he do it that next season, when they were 3 games above .500 with 17 games left in the season? You claim that Scottie affected the wins column more than Michael, but I do not think Michael got a fair sample size and he had teams that I think were below the level of even LeBron's first few teams in Cleveland.
All in all, I think you had a plan and a vision, just could have maybe done a more precise job of execution. I have been through it and have been misunderstood as well. In the end, just think of maybe the most straight forward and factual way of putting it. Use statistical data to support this, the more the better. The particular data you used was honestly not very convincing and did not tell the entire story. Say what aspects LeBron would be better at, maybe even say, "If he were on the Bulls, they might have won more", and why. As soon as that paragraph I posted at the top was written without much of a differentiation between "best" and "greatest" (which are kind of synonymous), than you were bound to have major miscommunication on I am sure what you hoped to be a more civilized, productive discussion.
Instead it was a lot of neg complaining and bitterness at seeing things differently than you might. I know you respect the opinions of others, just realize that their were better ways to have presented this discussion that would not have led to you taking the stance of being the one man trying to stop a conspiracy. If the person trying to unlock the conspiracy was accepting and transparent, without knocking viable data and answering viable questions, instead covering them up as being the work of an apologist, than it would work out much better. The thing was, when people started to point out holes in your theory, you took the defensive and started belittling their opinion. This may not have been your intention, it did happen on this thread quite a bit. Some of was at you, I will agree, though an awful lot of it was by you.