Basketball culture today is cultivated by “Top Ten” lists comparing players from now versus then. The Tom Hankses versus the Dean Martins. While I generally try to avoid such lists (for my own sanity), today I’ll be joined by some of the greatest basketball minds I know to do just the opposite. Together we’re going to tackle the always hot question that has recently been reignited: Who’s the greatest player of all time?
With the Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Miami Heat in six games to claim the 2020 NBA Championship, LeBron James now has his fourth title and NBA Finals MVP under his belt. It is completely unavoidable to compare LeBron and Michael Jordan, especially in moments like these. So, here we are. Let’s get started.
Buster Scher, Founder of HoopsNation
Daniel Lubofsky, Writer at Hoops Habit
JD Freda, Journalist at the Long Island Herald
Holden “Dashingly Handsome” Velasco, Editor at Hardwood and Hollywood
Question #1: Who’s the greatest player of all-time (G.O.A.T)?
Buster Scher (BS): LeBron James
Daniel Lubofsky (DL): Michael Jordan
JD Freda (JF): LeBron James
Holden Velasco (HV): Michael Jordan
Question #2: How much closer did LeBron move up the list with this championship, IF he wasn’t already sitting atop the throne?
BS: Jordan has had the better career thus far, but LeBron is the better player. It was always about him as a player rather than the accolades. Bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter than just about everyone.
DL: In my eyes, Jordan is the G.O.A.T right now. I think LeBron has to get to five, at least five, and then the longevity and the stats and the gaudy numbers – then that’s there as filler for that sixth title. And obviously if LeBron gets that sixth title, to me I don’t know how you can make an argument for Jordan, but I understand six-for-six looks a lot cleaner. But, I’m not of the belief LeBron’s Finals losses should necessarily be held against him with the exception of 2011.
JF: LeBron has been the better overall player, and his third ring put him ahead of Jordan. LeBron is the better passer and the better rebounder, granted he has much more physical prowess – but that’s basketball. Jordan has him on scoring though, as he’s at least top five all-time, but LeBron isn’t a slouch. Jordan didn’t do much until he got that team, if you know what I mean, but if I need a player in a seven game series, sure I’ll take Jordan. But, if I’m starting a new franchise today, give me LeBron James.
HV: I believe one’s accolades and legacy is more important than anything in any G.O.A.T conversation. LeBron’s 4-6 Finals record doesn’t sit well with me, especially the 2011 loss against the Dallas Mavericks. Some people discredit Jordan’s 6-0 record because he had a great team, okay, well then would you discredit both of LeBron’s Miami titles? What about playing an injured and somewhat underwhelming Miami team this year? I get it, injuries are a part of basketball, but if we magically could turn them off like it’s NBA2K, it’s likely LeBron would’ve been facing Durant and dem boys from Brooklyn; a much tougher team when both he and Kyrie Irving are fully healthy. What also rubs me the wrong way is LeBron’s seemingly lack of a killer instinct. Look at Game 5 of this year. The last possession of the game, LeBron had the ball at the top of the key and Danny Green came up to set the screen. LeBron has to call that screen off so he’s not initially double-teamed. He has to take the last shot, especially on a night like he was having. Sure, the play he did make in that situation was the right play, but, he shouldn’t have even been in that situation. He’s LeBron James, not Rajon Rondo.
Question #3: To the Michael Jordan-ers, what does LeBron have to do to change your mind?
DL: I think he has to get to five, then you consider the longevity, and the stats and what not, then to me he has a pretty good argument.
HV: He has to get to six rings, or pile on the individual records.