Perhaps no two players in NBA history are compared more frequently than LeBron James and Michael Jordan. Jordan, who dominated the 90s, was the undisputed GOAT for decades following his retirement, leaving behind a career and legacy that few have ever come close to matching.
LeBron, who is still active in the league, has given MJ a run for his money as the king of basketball. His modern playstyle, longevity, and career achievements have easily put him right up there as one of the best.
While their game on the court often gets debated, it's their contrasting approach to the game that often generates the most conversation.
While LeBron stays away from conflict and often forges friendships with opposing players, Jordan was much less open to the idea, often viewing his competitors as "enemies" rather than friends.
Recently, former NBA player Al Harrington spoke about this in a chat on the 'I Am Athlete' podcast.
“Michael Jordan came up in the era where everybody hated each other. They did not f— with each other, was no homeboys in the offseason, was no, ‘Let’s go to the clubs in the summer and go holler at some chicks.’ It was none of that. … When they played, it was war. LeBron has dominated an era of his little bros. They all his little bros, everybody. Who he had it with? Who? What star has LeBron had it with? What team has LeBron had it with?”
It's hard to deny that Harrington speaks some truth here. LeBron has never really had a "rivalry" like Jordan had it with so many different players and teams over his career.
There is something admirable about that kind of fierce competitive spirit, and it helped make the NBA even more interesting for the fans.
On Undisputed, Skip Bayless elaborated on Harrington's ideas, telling his co-host Shannon Sharpe about Jordan's amazing and cold-blooded personality.
"You're missing the point. This wasn't about everybody hating Jordan, it's about Jordan hating everybody else. He didn't have any friends.
Let's go back to Al Harrington's premise here. He's saying that, in Jordan's era, they didn't f with each other. There was no homeboys in the offseason. He's talking about Jordan. There was no 'let's go to the clubs in summer.' Jordan didn't do that. Barkley was sometimes part of his entourage but trust me Michael viewed Barkley as a court jester for a while...
The bottom line is, Michael Jordan was the coldest blooded killer I have ever seen as a basketball player. LeBron is one of the nicest guys who has ever come along as a superstar -- to a fault."
Despite everything LeBron has done, this will always be a distinguishing feature between him and MJ.
For some, LeBron's friendly and gentle relationship with his fellow NBA stars is admirable and should not take away from his claim as the GOAT.
To others, Jordan's fierce competitive boundaries gave him a certain heir of greatness, dominance, and respect that Bron can never hope to match.
At the end of the day, it's all subjective. But there is no denying that the two men have an entirely different approach when it comes to forging relationships both on and off the court.