DEBATE: Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James – Who is the GOAT?

The argument over the greatest basketball player of all time is one that NBA fans can only avoid for so long. While some may say otherwise, the debate over who’s the greatest of all time, commonly dubbed the GOAT, has habitually become one between two players: Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

In this article, The Paper Wolf will give two perspectives on the NBA’s GOAT Debate, one in favor of Michael Jordan and one in favor of LeBron James.

Saint Paul’s junior Samuel Drez crowns LeBron James as the GOAT:

An age-old discussion has left most NBA advocates in disputes; who is the greatest basketball player of all time? Most say Michael Jordan, but the answer is pretty straightforward. LeBron James is the greatest player of all time, and there shouldn’t be a debate.

LeBron James has proven every season since he came into the league in 2003 that he is on a different level from everyone else. From the unstoppable offensive side of the ball to the dominant defensive side of his game, he has shown that nobody can stop him, and there isn’t anyone he can’t stop.

Most NBA casuals will say MJ is 6-0 in the finals. While this is a fantastic feat, these casuals disregard that James went to more NBA finals and played against the most outstanding team of all time, the Golden State Warriors.

Many people will say that he is only as good as he is because of how long he was in the league. This is a lame excuse for an argument. He has longevity because he has been consistently excellent on every team he has been on; he adapts to the game around him. Can anyone tell me how “great” Jordan was as soon as he went to a worse team with a worse coach? James has been there and done that. It’s just a bump in the road for the title, GOAT.

James is a top-ten player in almost all categories. From three-point shooting and total points to total steals and dunks, there isn’t a single other player as efficient as LeBron James. He is about to break the record for the most total points of all time, for crying out loud. Give your king the respect he has earned and deserves.

Jordan is regarded as the greatest player of all time, but that title isn’t accurate. Jordan was king of the NBA for a while. There’s a new king of the NBA, and his name is LeBron James. I am excited to see the heir to the throne.

Saint Paul’s senior Ethan Stenger declares Michael Jordan as the GOAT:

LeBron James’s longevity is very impressive; however, Jordan’s shorter yet more prominent peak while leading a six-championship dynasty with the Chicago Bulls is the foundation for why Micheal Jordan is the greatest basketball player to walk the planet.

Looking at some advanced statistics from over their careers, we see that Jordan has a slight edge over James in most categories. While numbers don’t tell who’s greater, per se, they do tell us who the better basketball player is. James is said to be more versatile than Jordan, but these numbers would say otherwise. Even by the thinnest of margins, Michael Jordan is the best player on both ends of the floor.

Numbers can’t tell us single-handedly who the greatest player of all time is. Look at James Harden, a player who’s had countless statistically mind-boggling seasons time and time again. Still, nobody has ever put him up with the rest of the greats. Why is that?

The greatest have countless accolades backed by astronomical numbers, not the other way around. So let’s look at some accolades for both Jordan and James, taken before this NBA season.

Lebron James’ longevity in the NBA is impressive but not remarkable enough to pass Michael Jordan. Even with James’s two-decade-long career, Jordan’s more impressive fifteen-year career trumps James in almost every category again.

One thing that can’t be measured is the intangibles. The greats all have incredible numbers, but the things that can’t be measured separate the greats from the greatest. Players and fans alike are in awe of and respect James and Jordan. Still, there’s one key difference between the two: players feared playing against Michael Jordan, and he knew it.

“You can tell just by the way they play and the way they approach the game,” Jordan answered if players feared him.

“A lot of times, I can see it in their eyes,” he continued.

“People were afraid of him,” Jud Buechler, who won three championships with Micheal Jordan’s Chicago Bulls dynasty, stated about Jordan.

“We were his teammates, and we were afraid of him. There was just fear. The fear factor of MJ was so, so thick,” he continued.

“He crossed the line numerous times,” former University of North Carolina teammate Will Perdue revealed about Jordan.

“But as time goes on and you think back about what he was actually trying to accomplish, you’re like, ‘Yeah, he was a hell of a teammate,'” he continued.

Teammates and opponents alike were scared of Michael Jordan having a different kind of winning mindset, a will to win that was so great that it sometimes came off as scary. But that made Michael Jordan the greatest; he won when it mattered most.

Finals records are commonplace in the GOAT conversation, specifically those of LeBron James and Michael Jordan. The repeated comparison of James’s 4-6 record to Jordan’s 6-0 record has left some NBA fans dismissing this comparison based on fatigue of the subject matter. But these records are crucial in determining who the greatest basketball player is.

LeBron James has visited the finals ten times but has only won it all four times. Conversely, Michael Jordan led his Chicago Bulls dynasty to the finals six times, not missing a beat and bringing home the Larry O’Brien trophy to Chicago every single time.

Some NBA fans will say that these finals records are overused and that LeBron James’s ten finals trips are more impressive than Michael Jordan’s measly six but don’t get it twisted; these records highly favor Jordan.

Sure, LeBron James’s ten finals trips are astonishing. Still, he’s finished second as many times as Michael Jordan has finished first.

If one of LeBron James’s most substantial achievements is finishing in second place, than that’s where he belongs. Second place to the greatest basketball player to ever walk the planet, Michael Jefferey Jordan.


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