The GOAT debate is back and going strong again. After LeBron James captured his 4th NBA title and 4th Finals MVP, there is no doubt that King James is the best player in the world at age 35. In fact, he has been the best player for as long as we remember regardless if Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard won championships.
But how does LeBron compare to Michael Jordan, the latter widely recognized as the greatest ever? While LeBron certainly has a case for himself, there is still quite a large distinction between Jordan and LeBron’s accomplishments. In fact, the difference between them constitutes an entire Hall of Fame career.
Here are the achievements that LeBron has to chase to match up to the great Michael Jordan.
Slam Dunk Title
This has been a large knock-on LeBron James. All the best athletes in NBA history have competed in the Slam Dunk Contest, including the likes of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan among many others. As arguably the most gifted athlete in NBA history, it is shocking that LeBron never competed in a Dunk Contest. He is one of the most ferocious in-game dunkers in history, and the reason has to be that James is afraid of failing.
LeBron James has had doubters claim that LeBron shies away from the moment at times, and the fact that he could not even compete in a contest in 17 years, is strange. Likely to never be achieved, MJ has a Dunk Contest advantage because he wanted to dominate every competition there was.
9 Scoring Titles
Something that perhaps no player will come close to is Jordan’s 10 scoring titles. LeBron has 9 less than MJ, something that clearly shows the discrepancy between how MJ was a dominant scorer. While LeBron competed with great scorers such as Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant; 9 scoring titles is a long way off. LeBron is not known as a natural scorer although he has the 4th highest PPG average in history.
If a player has 9 scoring titles, he is automatically in the Hall of Fame. The fact that MJ has 9 over LeBron means Jordan was the best scorer of his time, which LeBron is not regarded as such despite having a high career PPG average. His scoring was more out of default because of his size and strength, and others such as Durant and Bryant were considered better scorers.
4 All-Defensive First Teams
Jordan was a dominant defensive player, perhaps the best at the shooting guard ever. He had long arms and powerful hands to suffocate players on defense. Playing against MJ was a nightmare, and he would not let anyone off the hook. MJ was known to stifle any and all opposition, and he has a total of 4 All-Defensive Team Selections ahead of LeBron.
James was a great defender with the Miami Heat, falling short in the Defensive Player of the Year race to Marc Gasol in 2012. Since then, his defensive ability has waned and it has been subpar considering his status. LeBron was great defensively this postseason, but he will certainly not make 4 All-Defensive First Teams more to catch MJ.
1 Defensive Player Of The Year
Continuing onto defense, MJ has a DPOY Award which LeBron doesn’t have. As this award is mostly reserved for big guys who can impact the game due to their size, the fact that MJ has 10 total scoring titles and the Defensive Player of the Year Award means he was by far the best two-way player in the game. LeBron was regarded as the best all-around player but never the best two-way player.
LeBron will likely never win the DPOY before he retires, and MJ has this advantage. Imagine a player with 9 scoring titles, a Defensive Player of the Year Award, and 4 All-NBA Defensive Teams. That player is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
1 Regular Season MVP
Jordan also has one more MVP than LeBron right now. James probably feels he deserves the MVP this season, and he certainly has a case, but Giannis Antetokounmpo was undeniably the best two-way player and he had the best team in the league. LeBron falls short in yet another major category, as Jordan has 5 total MVPs to LeBron’s 4.
Adding another MVP title to the defensive accolades and scoring titles makes quite a gap for LeBron to keep up with. It is astonishing that despite the incredible longevity that LeBron has shown, he has such a large gap of achievements to collect. But this is not even the end of the road. There are 4 more accolades that LeBron has yet to accomplish.
2 NBA Titles And 2 Finals MVPs
Michael Jordan went 6-0 in the NBA Finals with 6 Finals MVPs and 6 rings. LeBron has 4 NBA titles with 4 Finals MVPs, certainly inching closer. But he’s not there yet. In fact, he needs to play at least 2 more seasons at an MVP level to accomplish this. He might very well equal this, but it will be quite the challenge. LeBron and MJ are the only 2 players in history with at least 4 NBA titles and 4 Finals MVPs so it might be possible.
If a single player was able to capture 2 titles and 2 Finals MVPs, along with 9 scoring titles and a Defensive Player of the Year Award, he is regarded as one of the best players to have ever played. This is an entire career worth of accolades that LeBron has to manage in a few seasons, which is just not possible. LeBron might have to capture at least 6 rings to capture the masses, but only time will tell.
Overall, a player with the above accolades will be in the Hall of Fame. To many, this will mean that LeBron will need to have another entire career to come close to what MJ accomplished. While there are different opinions by different people, it is hard to deny that Michael Jordan has simply the most incredible list of achievements that no player can compare to.