Who is the best NBA player of all-time?
By Mo Hussain, Sports Reporter
One of the biggest debates that has been covered in barbershops and sports group chats over the past decade has been the debate as to who is the “better” basketball player—Michael Jordan or LeBron James? The debate particularly escalated this year after ESPN released a 10-part behind-the-scenes documentary on Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls in April, and James won his fourth championship with the Los Angeles Lakers earlier in October.
The answer to this question will never be plainly obvious; determining who is the better of the two is very much a subjective argument with many varying considerations. In this series, we are going to take a brief look at the history of this particular debate and present both sides of the argument as fairly as possible. Who is the best? That’s completely up to you.
Believe it or not, this debate dates to the early 2000s, when James was still in high school. James attended St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio where he broke out as one of the best high school basketball players in the country in just his junior year due to his unprecedented abilities at such a young age; this, in addition to Sports Illustrated putting James on the cover of the February 18 edition of their magazine in 2002 (dubbing him as “the chosen one”), put the spotlight on James as the potential next big generational star after Jordan, who was nearing the end of his career at that time.
However, as many of us know, there are plenty of people across many different fields who look very promising in one way or another—whether it’s the next big athlete, actor, politician, innovator, etc. Many have seen people with potential come and go, but for someone to actually fulfill that potential and narrative surrounding them? Not very common.
But James somehow managed to do just that. From that Sports Illustrated cover and on, he and his team played exceptional basketball in his senior year. He was selected number one overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA Draft, headed into arguably the most anticipated rookie season for any athlete in any sport, and capped it off by winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2004.
James’ mercurial rise, in addition to him wearing the same jersey number as Jordan, pretty much confirmed to the basketball world that he would be the guy who was going to potentially challenge Jordan’s status as the best player to have ever played in the NBA. But before we get too caught up in the buzz surrounding James, we’ll have to consider the other side of the coin and take a look at who the so-called “chosen one” is up against. Stay tuned for next week!