ESPN's upcoming Michael Jordan documentary, "The Last Dance," will debut this Sunday night, and the hype being generated is immense. So much so, in fact, that it's practically forced basketball diehards to reignite the GOAT debate between MJ and LeBron James.
From his early days in the NBA, James always claimed that he was "chasing (Jordan's) ghost." After coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the 2016 Finals against an historic Golden State Warriors team -- which is actually what prompted Jordan to go through with the documentary -- LeBron went as far as to declare himself as the greatest basketball player ever.
We thoroughly agree with The King and that settlement is based on these three reasons.
3. LeBron Makes His Teammates Better
Is Jordan a better scorer than James? Absolutely. MJ is the best pure scorer the sport has ever seen. However, LeBron might go down as the best playmaker in NBA history, and that means everything. In the overall basketball IQ department, the Akron, Ohio native is MILES better than the six-time champion. For his career, Jordan averaged just 5.3 assists per game. LBJ, meanwhile, has logged 7.4 per game, including a league-leading 10.6 tally this season. We'd never base an argument as massive as this based solely off of one stat, but even Jordan's greatest apologists can't deny that James is the superior playmaker. The last time we checked, that's imperative to the game of basketball.
2. LeBron's Statistical Advantage
This is where the stats come into play, and boy, are they glaring. As of this writing, LeBron has more points, rebounds, assists, and blocks than Jordan. Further, he holds a better shooting percentage (50.4%) than the Bulls legend (49.7%) and three-point percentage: 34.4% compared to a 32.7% clip. That's a fundamental indicator that James is better than MJ, and the distance between the two player's sums is astonishing. In terms of per game averages, the only category that Jordan bests LeBron is free throw shooting. Congrats?
1. Team's Performance Following Their Departure
This one is pretty simple, folks. The first time that Jordan decided to retire in 1994, his Bulls enjoyed unprecedented success. How is that possible with a player of MJ's stature not around? The Jordan-less Bulls finished 55-27 that season, two wins shy of their total the previous year. Chicago didn't enjoy the same playoff success as it did with the Hall of Famer, but that stat proves that James is the more valuable player. In 2009, the LeBron-led Cavaliers finished as the East's No. 1 seed with a 61-22 record. The very next season, when James understandably left to join the Heat, Cleveland fell off the face of the earth and stumbled to a 19-63 finish. The Cavs missed the playoffs each year until 2014, when LeBron returned to deliver the city a championship, a promise he came through on in 2016. When the kid from Akron left for Los Angeles in 2018, Cleveland's win percentage predictably plummeted once more. In the two-plus seasons since, the Cavaliers have produced a 38-109 record. Nothing more needs to be said.