The debate around who is the greatest player of all time in the NBA has been narrowed down, for the most part, to Michael Jordan and LeBron James. The two of them spectacularly dominated their eras, and LeBron's continued success in the league in recent years has made it a hotly debated topic of conversation.
The case for James started to pick up after he led that historic comeback in the 2016 Finals from down 3-1 to the 73-win Warriors, and it hasn't slowed down since. Back in 2018, Golf icon Tiger Woods was asked to weigh in on the GOAT debate between Jordan and LeBron, to which he had a brilliant response.
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“They're both great in different ways. If you look at MJ, he was a prolific scorer and played defense like no other, always first-team all-defense, but LeBron is different. He's like a hybrid of MJ and Magic (Johnson), which is so different because he's bringing the ball up a lot. MJ never really did that. I mean, he had Pip (Scottie Pippen) as a point forward a lot of times, and you would think that's kind of LeBron-ish, but they're very different in how they help both teams.”
"What MJ did, getting to the Finals and dominating the league like he did, he did it in a different way than LeBron's doing it. Just because of the nature of their bodies, their builds and their game and their mental make-up. But at the end of the day, they both win. They're both guys that we look at and say it's unbelievable what they're doing. They're just changing the game, the game how it's played. We didn't know it could be played that way and they both have done it."
They are very different players, as Woods said here, so it's not that easy to compare them. Jordan was a scoring machine who won a record 10 scoring titles, while LeBron's all-round game has seen him become the first player to register 30,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, and 10,000 assists, all of which are spectacular achievements.
We should be grateful that we have been able to witness their greatness, as there is no guarantee that another one will come around who can match their incredible feats on the court. Regardless, comparisons are inevitable, and once LeBron surpasses Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the all-time leading scorer in the history of the league, we can be sure the debates will intensify even further.