May 26, 2015 is a date basketball fans will remember for eternity.
LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA Finals appearance in eight years. It’s also James’ fifth straight Finals appearance, sixth overall. The Cavs completed their four-game sweep of the Atlanta Hawks in blowout fashion: 118-88.
The immediate reactions were pure chaos. Arguments were reignited over who is the better player: LeBron James or Michael Jordan.
How about we put an end to that discussion right here, right now?
Granted, James is pound-for-pound the best player at his position. Without him, the Cavaliers wouldn’t be in this position. Just ask the Miami Heat, who went back-to-back during four straight Finals (2011-14).
Nothing can take away James’ skills, talent and resolve. But comparing him to Michael Jordan is comparing Jordan to Bill Russell.
James didn’t take off 18 months to play baseball, unlike Jordan. He also didn’t stay on one team during his Finals games, unlike Jordan.
Let’s also talk about winning percentage of the elite players. LeBron is two for five, batting .400. It’s a passing grade, if you play baseball.
Comparing it to Jordan is unfair. Jordan didn’t take his Chicago Bulls to five straight NBA Finals. However, he did bring them six NBA titles.
That’s hardly worth the discussion when it comes to championships, because that’s the measuring stick of any sport.
If that’s the case, then neither Bryant or Jordan is better than Bill Russell.
Russell won 11 championships with the Boston Celtics, an NBA record. He did that within his 13-season career in the NBA.
Do you see why this discussion goes nowhere? Do you understand now why it’s not even close?
The reason why this debate exists is due to generations. There are many who’ve only seen Bryant and James play but haven’t seen Jordan live. Perhaps they did during his two-year stint with the Washington Wizards.
There are others who’ve only seen Jordan play in his prime but not Russell. The only ones that could answer this argument is someone who’s seen all of them play live. Now that would be an interesting discussion. But don’t expect this argument to go anywhere anytime soon.
Meanwhile, James is busy carving out his own legacy. That’s what makes him stand out from Bryant, Jordan and Russell.
Each man is different in drive, personality, skill and how they got there. James could surpass each of them someday. But today, let this discussion rest in peace. Sit back, relax and watch history unfold.
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