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Comparisons continue between James, Jordan

Jacob Westendorf, Sports Writer/Commentary
February 27, 2013
Filed under Sports

The way Heat forward LeBron James is dominating the NBA this season, comparisons between him and Michael Jordan are as common as ever.

Jordan is the consensus choice for greatest basketball player of all time. He won scoring titles, MVP awards and is a six-time world champion.  Stories are told about Jordan as if they are legends — unfathomable feats.

Much like Jordan, LeBron James has done it all. He won every individual accolade imaginable and most recently won his first NBA championship.

But James’ detractors exist. Many say he’s not even the best player in the league today. The most common slight aimed at James is the one that holds the most truth — James does not compare to Jordan.

When examining the players, on the surface it’s easy to make the comparison. Both have dominated the league in ways never seen before. Both players have been the face of the league,  and both have given opposing coaches nightmares that no other player has. This, however, is where the comparison ends. James himself agrees that the comparisons should stop as evidenced by his tweet from Feb. 13 that read, “I’m not MJ, I’m LJ.”

Jordan was devastating with the ball in his hands. He could score from anywhere on the court and often told opponents how he was going to score. For his career, he averaged 30.1 points per game and shot just under 50 percent from the field.

When it came to defense, Jordan was no slouch either. Jordan is the only player in NBA history to have 200 blocks and 100 steals in one season. Jordan won the NBA’s MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season — the only player to ever accomplish that feat.

He made opposing teams fear him with his ability to do whatever it took to win and was the ultimate competitor. Jordan even hated losing in practice. Stories have been told that Jordan once punched teammate Steve Kerr in practice. But Jordan, as prolific as he was as a scorer, was slightly limited as a passer and couldn’t defend every position on the court. Despite his greatness, Jordan is far different from LeBron James.

James is listed at 6-feet-9-inches tall and weighs around 260 pounds. He’s built like a brick wall. James plays every position on the court and is like a freight train when driving toward the basket. He can guard any position on the court.

Despite all the points he scores, James will never be as big of a scorer as Jordan was. He occasionally struggles shooting jump shots, and until recently, didn’t have much of a post game.

James makes up for his scoring limits by his ability to see the court and pass the ball with a prowess unlike any other. James is as formidable now as Jordan was before, just in a very different way.

James is a player who could average a triple-double in a season. He has career averages of 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. His skill set is very similar to another player that played before him, but his name is not Michael Jordan. LeBron James is the modern NBA’s version of Magic Johnson.

Johnson, like James, was 6 feet 9 inches and could guard any position on the floor. Johnson’s skills as a point guard are unmatched by anyone, and like James, Johnson could have averaged a triple-double. He was a player that could take over games either by scoring or distributing the ball much like James does now.

James is the best player in basketball today. His versatility and ability to dominate a game on both ends of the floor is unmatched by any other current player. However, Jordan is arguably the greatest player in the history of the NBA. He can no longer be questioned in terms of having a championship pedigree and competitive nature. Jordan has made several highlight reels and given many fans memories to last a lifetime.

However, just as James does not compare to him, Jordan does not compare to James.