Now the best scorer in NBA history ahead of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James continues to write his legend at 38, rekindling the debate as to whether he or Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. .
The bar had been set very, very high -38,387 points- by Abdul-Jabbar on the evening of April 5, 1989. An eternity on the scale of modern sport (more than 38 years). However, there were in the meantime unrepentant scorers who succeeded each other, Karl Malone (3rd, 36,928 pts), Kobe Bryant (4th, 33,643 pts) and obviously Michael Jordan (5th, 32,292).
Only fifth on this list, “MJ”? Yes, but he played less time than the others, 15 seasons and 1,072 matches, for a record average, however, of 30.1 points. “LBJ” is around 27 points over 20 seasons and now 1,410 games, while having higher rates in assists and rebounds.
Even if Abdul-Jabbar, with his six titles in ten finals, his six MVP trophies, his 19 All-Star Games remains in the discussion, the endless debate to designate the “GOAT”, the best player of all time, focuses more than ever between Jordan and James.
“LBJ”, four times best player of the season, also played ten finals, eight in a row even (2011-2018). But that ended in six failures and four championship rings with Miami (2012, 2013), Cleveland (2016), and the Lakers (2020).
– Jordan 100% champ –
This negative balance is the Achilles’ heel of his record, however gargantuan. In terms of “wins”, “LBJ” suffers from the comparison against “MJ” the invincible and his six coronations (1991-1993/1996-1998) with Chicago, to which are added five MVP trophies and ten season leading scorer titles.
“That’s why Jordan is unique. Because he has never lost a final. And that changes everything. It’s unsurpassable. Unless you find a player who plays seven without losing one”, underlines with from AFP former player and coach Jacques Monclar, consultant for BeIn Sports.
Well placed to talk about it, Jordan’s ex-lieutenant Scottie Pippen, also a six-time champion, assured him: “There is no game I would participate in, where I would choose LeBron James over Michael Jordan. Not if I want to win it.”
In terms of play, however, many believe that James, in addition to excelling in longevity, has a richer palette, his basketball IQ, his agility, his physical power, making him a unique prototype capable of playing in all positions. , with the same talent and the same efficiency – he is currently the 4th best passer in history for example.
“When it comes to the most complete basketball player, LeBron James is better,” said former Pistons star Isiah Thomas.
Another former glory of the 1980s, former Atlanta “dunker” Dominique Wilkins observes that “LeBron has always had a physical and technical advantage over his opponents and the mentality that goes with it. Basically, he says to them + I can do what I want, when I want.”
– LeBron 100% activist –
Others temper by arguing that the NBA today is not that of thirty years ago. “Anyone debating GOAT status doesn’t realize Michael would be a triple-double averaging 40 points today!” said former coach George Karl, who lost a final with Seattle to Chicago in 1996.
“But it’s quite remarkable to see one of the best players in history being able to still improve with age,” insists Golden State coach Steve Kerr.
The ex-Lakers idol Magic Johnson already finally offered a rather convincing summary in 2020: “LeBron is the most versatile player in history, the one who makes others better. But the greatest of all time is is still Michael Jordan. However, James still has a chance to catch up with him if he wins more titles.”
Where, on the other hand, there is no debate, it is on the level of activism.
When he was playing, Jordan never took part in the fight against racial injustice, when James is the first to be heard, on social networks in particular, and to act. His voice is, by far, the one that carries the most well beyond sport.
His involvement is total: he founded a school, funded aid programs, created an association to encourage blacks to vote.
Financially, Jordan also ended up putting his hand in the wallet to fight racism, but very recently, in the wake of the George Floyd affair which shook the country in 2020.