We so often get caught up in what is occurring NOW and too easily forget what happened THEN. People of this era and especially my generation are so caught up in the players that are currently in the NBA that they feel the need to compare them to players of the past, often unjustly.
Because he is the greatest, and always will be, everyone is always searching for the next MJ. First off, let me do you a favor…stop searching. There will never be another Michael Jordan. The two most commonly “compared” players are Kobe and LeBron. Kobe is the best and closest comparison because of his similar style of play and killer instinct. But make no mistake, the distinction is clear. Anyway you look at it, or want to twist it, turn it, pull it, whatever…Jordan is better.
Of course, numbers are the easiest way to compare two players, so we’ll start with that. Kobe’s career point per game average is 25.3, MJ’s is 30.1 (not very close, I know). But we’ll take it a step further and make it even more embarrassing. MJ’s career high is 37.1, KB’s is 35.4. MJ averaged over 30 points per game eight times, doing it seven years in a row at one point. Unfortunately, this is a feat Kobe accomplished only three times.
To put things more simply: Michael’s career average is something Kobe could only do three times. Sadly for Kobe, the overshadowing extends much further than just points. Jordan averaged 5.3 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game for his career, compared to Kobe’s 4.7 and 5.3. MJ’s career high in assists and rebounds was 8.0 for both. Kobe’s best year in assists was 6.0, and 6.9 in the rebounding department. MJ averaged over six assists per game three times, while Kobe did it once, and over six rebounds per game nine times, compared to Kobe’s three times.
I feel like the best way to measure great players is to evaluate them when their greatness is needed most. And in basketball, that time is the playoffs. Although it seems impossible, Jordan’s postseason averages are even better than his staggering career averages. In his playoff career, he averaged an astonishing 33.4 points, 5.7 assists, and 6.4 rebounds per game, all of which are better than his regular season averages. Kobe on the other hand, averaged 25.5 points, 4.8 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game, while shooting worse from the field and free throw line than he did in the regular season.
The numbers for Kobe’s playoff and career averages are virtually identical, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, as I said before…the greatest step up their game in the playoffs, and MJ clearly took his game to another level come playoff time. Jordan scored over 30 points per game every year he was in the playoffs except for one (his first), where he averaged a measly 29.3 points per game.
He also averaged more than 34 per game SEVEN times. Kobe only averaged over 30 FOUR times. Once again, the rebounding and assists heavily favor MJ, but I’ll let you look those up for yourself this time. If all this isn’t enough to convince you, then I’m not really sure you should continue watching basketball. The second and most laughable comparison is none other than the almighty “King James”.
First and foremost, comparing these two is simply ridiculous. Not only do they play very different styles of basketball, but LeBron has never won…..anything. And winning speaks for itself. I feel like the most glaring difference between the two is their attitude and approach to the game. MJ was one of the most intense, ruthless competitors of all time, and LeBron is well…one of the best sideline dancers of all time? There’s no doubt in my mind that if LBJ possessed the same killer instinct as Michael, he would enjoy just as much success, but that is something he will never have in his arsenal.
James proved that this summer when he made the most ridiculously handled announcement of all time. Joining the Miami Heat proved that LeBron could only do it one way, the easiest way. By joining Bosh and Wade, James forfeited any shot he had at becoming one of the “all time greats”. Making it to the finals ONCE in seven years (and getting swept), then copping out and forming an all star team is everything but similar to the ultra competitive Jordan.
He said so himself.
So, the next time you’re a little confused, and feel the sudden embarrassing urge to put someone in the same category as MJ, let’s just hope there’s no one else in the room. Remember that it’s too easy to get caught up in what is presently in front of you, and sometimes difficult to accurately grasp how great what became before you. There can only be one G.O.A.T., and that title will forever rest gently in the clutch hands of Michael Jordan.
This post was submitted by Zach Silvernail.