The age-old question that every true basketball fan has a strong opinion on, who really is the greatest of all time?
Unfortunately for us, we will never get to see the two greats go head to head on the court but we can still discuss how we think it would happen.
CBS Sports college basketball writers Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander have recently surveyed more than 100 coaches for their annual Candid Coaches series. These coaches varied from head coaches at elite franchises to young assistants at smaller Division 1 schools. One of the questions that the coaches were asked was who they thought was better? LeBron or Jordan?
Although it’s such a hot and controversial topic, the results were completely one-sided as Michael Jordan had 82% of the vote compared to LeBron James’ 18% percent.
Jordan’s six rings in the 90’s definitely stands out over LeBron’s three, along with the fact that LeBron has been in far more losing Finals appearances. Many of the coaches surveyed had the chance to watch Jordan play in his prime and some were even lucky enough to play against him on the court. The two eras that these two champion players played in are also extremely different and many believe that Jordan would strive even more if he was playing in the modern-day era where as LeBron wouldn’t stand out so much.
However, the ones who picked LeBron were keen to point out that ‘The King’ had led his teams to eight straight eastern conference finals win including being in a couple of teams where he seemed to completely carry them to the Finals. Certain statistics stood from LeBron stood out to some of these coaches and they believe that LeBron is the most athletic and stronger player.
It is important to point out that both players needed assistance in winning their championships, they could never do it all on their own.
Jordan had Pippen and Rodman during his championship wins in Chicago, LeBron made up the big three with Bosh and Wade in Miami and Kyrie and Love played a crucial role in their championship victory over the Warriors in Cleveland.
We’ll never get a truly correct answer on who’s the better player, it’s all a matter of an opinion, both Jordan and LeBron are two of the greatest players to play the game, both will go down in history as true icons of the sporting world.
Check what coaches who picked Michael Jordan or LeBron James said:
From coaches who picked Michael Jordan:
- "Not to take anything away from LeBron, but the game is so different now from when Jordan played. If Mike played in this day and age, with freedom of movement, he'd average 40 points a game. LeBron's done so many great things on and off the court. But if somebody put a gun to your head, and you had to go win a game, who are you going to go with? Michael Jordan or LeBron James? My money and my life is going to be with Jordan. He played both sides of the ball as good as anybody. He was the best offensive player and defensive player in the league every night."
- "I grew up in the Jordan era so I am partial to him. All of my players, of course, say LeBron. They only know Jordan as the guy in Space Jam or the guy the shoes are named after."
- "I grew up in Chicago and played against Jordan. The combination of athleticism, skill, IQ, and competitiveness has been unmatched. He would score 40 a game and average a triple double with the new rules of basketball."
- "Jordan won scoring titles and Defensive Player of the Year. He had [Scottie] Pippen but never had an amazing supporting cast. LeBron has taken advantage of a weak East. We all knew Jordan was going to win. Never was a doubt. LeBron is a better athlete, but Jordan is a better basketball player. No one has had that level of skill and athleticism with a perfect mindset."
- "Not even close -- it's Jordan. Because the object of the game is to win. That's why we keep score. I'd rather go to a surgeon whose operated six successful heart surgeries and no one dies as opposed to a guy that's failed six times."
From coaches who picked LeBron James:
- "I can truly say that both those players are game-changing and iconic-type players. I think LeBron is more like Magic Johnson than he has ever been like Jordan. Both have dominated the game in their own ways. But if I had to choose to start a team around one individual, I would choose LeBron."
- "I'll say LeBron. Just the sustained level of consistency puts him at the top -- not to mention the fact that he really isn't showing any signs right now of slowing down. And I don't think you can knock him for the changing teams, etc. These days that's just a thing that happens. Any team you put him on becomes an instant contender."
- "LeBron is bigger, stronger, faster and very skilled. He'd be the best player in the world if he were a center, point guard or anywhere in between. Nobody has ever been that versatile."
- "LeBron's numbers, over time, are too overwhelming. Most significant statistic? How LeBron's teams fared after he left vs. how Jordan's teams fared after he left."
- "If we are going off the man as a whole, I'm taking LeBron. Basketball-wise he is not far off from Jordan -- and the numbers he has put up year in and year out are absurd. Where I think LeBron has separated himself from Jordan is with his stances on what he believes in. The school he just opened is awesome and will change lives. And what he has stood for, and stood against, throughout his career is what puts him on my Mount Rushmore of Athletes."