know that you’re probably sick of being force-fed a steady diet of LeBron James. If you’re like many, you find King James to be an overrated product of an ESPN hype machine that pummels storylines within inches of their lives to fill a 24-hour news cycle, and you think that James is nothing but a poor man’s Michael Jordan. But I would argue that James has earned much (though not all) of his hype, and that he compares more favorably with MJ than you might realize. Let’s look at the numbers:
Jordan earned his second ring in his eighth playoff appearance — as James did last night when the Heat dispatched the Spurs in Game 7.
At the time of his second NBA title, Jordan had led his team to 13 playoff-series wins. Game 7 last night was James’s 19th playoff-series win.
At the time of his second title, Jordan had won three NBA Most Valuable Player Awards. James already has four MVP seasons on his ledger.
For those who point out that James has won his titles with high-profile sidekicks Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, let me remind you that Jordan never won a title until Scottie Pippen arrived in Chicago. And Jordan had the greatest coach in NBA history, Phil Jackson, lending steady guidance; when James looks over at his bench, he sees the slightly less inspiring figure of Eric Spoelstra and realizes that he has to do things himself.
I recognize that James entered the league at an earlier age than Jordan did and has had more opportunity to pile up accolades than Jordan did at the same age. I’ll also concede that Jordan remains the greatest scorer in league history; at age 28, Jordan already had six scoring titles to James’s one. MJ also was the better defender, leading the league in steals three times in his career, while James’s one scoring crown is his only statistical title thus far. But credit where it’s due: LeBron is fashioning a legendary career that, when it’s over, just might compare favorably with that of the greatest player of all time.
— Rob Doster is senior editor for Athlon Sports.