Could LeBron James beat Michael Jordan in his prime?
By Courtnie Martin, Sports Reporter
Six-time NBA champion, five-time MVP, 10-time All-NBA First Team, nine-time All-Defensive First Team, Rookie of the Year, 14-time All-Star, three-time All-Star MVP, and two Olympic gold medals. Averages of 30.1 points, 2.35 steals, 5.3 assists, and 6.2 rebounds per game. A career 37 per cent 3-point shooter, 49.7 per cent from the field, and 83.5 per cent from the free-throw line.
A player like this is unheard of. While there are many players who are well-known for their amazing abilities on the court—such as Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Reggie Miller, and Carmelo Anthony—none can hold a candle to Michael Jordan. Jordan is the world’s most praised professional basketball player of all time. Known for his ambitious drive to the hoop and his forceful slam dunks with his tongue out, everyone wants a shot playing the world’s greatest. Only two players could potentially beat him in his prime: one is Kobe Bryant. The other has been slammed all over social media for his hope of one day possessing the ability to beat Jordan one-on-one.
LeBron James, who has won league MVP four times and picked up two championship rings, has made it very clear that his goal is to become better than MJ. During an ESPN interview, James said, “I don’t really think about it too much and say, ‘Okay, I want to catch MJ.’ I’m saying I want to be the greatest, and I think I have an opportunity to do it just because of my skill set and because I feel like I’ve got a lot of room to improve. But I definitely look at MJ as the greatest. Without MJ, there’s no me. He gave me hope. He gave me inspiration as a kid. I still watch MJ tapes to this day.”
While James remained humble during his interview, Jordan took a less modest approach on James being able to beat MJ in his prime.
Averaging 26.8 points, 7.3 assists, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game this season, James’ stats at least come close on paper, but could he actually beat MJ in his prime? If you ask Bryant, having played against James, he would say no. Similarly, random outside bloggers believe the task is impossible.
If you ask millions of “King James” fans, though, you would hear the exact opposite. In terms of body composition, James has the upper hand. Weighing approximately 50 pounds more, standing two inches taller, and arguably possessing the same court speed, one could believe James would accomplish his goal.
Jordan recently commented that the current, more lax era of basketball means that “these kids don’t even have a clue” about how physical the game was in Jordan’s era. They likely would have struggled to be as successful in MJ’s era as they are now, as a result.
Jordan also commented that he would pick Bryant over James: “I don’t think I would lose… Other than to Kobe because he steals all of my moves.”
The world’s greatest has spoken.