I absolutely love getting into discussions or debates with people who argue that LeBron James is the greatest basketball player in NBA history.
Um, hello…there is only one "greatest ever" and his name is Michael not LeBron. Forget joining Jordan and James in the same sentence, LeBron isn't even in the same book.
There always seems to be an excuse as to why LeBron has issues. Today it is his supporting cast or lack thereof.
Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen and that duo was the cornerstone for six championships with various supporting casts. Never once did the Bulls lose a game in the NBA Finals by 36 points.
LeBron made the choice to join Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade in South Beach and while they have disappeared in the Heat's current quest for a championship, LeBron hasn't stepped his game up scoring less than 20 points in each of the three games this series. To make matters worse, after winning the championship a year ago, LeBron led his team in scoring in each of the five games. The two teams that James led to the Finals his team lost and James failed to lead his team in scoring in five of the ten games. This year that trend has continued with James only leading the way in scoring in one of the three games.
Flip the script to the best ever.
Jordan played in 35 career Finals games. In those games he led the way scoring in 33 of the 35 games and averaged 33.6 points per game, more than 12 points more than James average (21.33) in 18 career Finals contests.
There is no question LeBron is a great player. Any argument to the contrary would be the equal argument of saying he is the best ever. It just isn't the case. If the offense wasn't enough, Jordan was a better defender than James. I would stop my argument, but unfortunately there is more.
When you argue players at different time periods, you look at the intangibles as separators. If you weren't convinced by now, you either 1) never saw Michael play or 2) are related to LeBron and are wearing blinders. The biggest difference between the two and the one thing that clearly separates Michael from LeBron has nothing to do with supporting cast.
It is the killer instinct.
The beauty of Jordan was that his opponents knew they were beaten before they hit the floor. LeBron seems defeated as soon as the National Anthem singer hits ‘land of the free'. Where Jordan rose to the occasion of a huge moment, LeBron seems more willing to melt away into the background and is either unwilling or unable to put himself out there.
Is it fear of failure?
When it comes to ‘the greats' of anything, there is a consistent trait in each of them. They aren't afraid to put themselves out there and more importantly, they aren't afraid to fail. During many moments during their profession they come up short, but they keep driving, fighting, not taking no for an answer until they achieve their goal.
Jordan was a master of the head game and LeBron has miles to travel to approach the greatest.