Possibly the most hotly contested debate in all of basketball is this: who's the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan or LeBron James? The argument continues to rage because there probably isn't a correct answer. Both Jordan and LeBron transcended their sport, becoming the undisputed superstars of their era - the era often playing a factor in the debate - those slightly older tend to side with Jordan, whereas younger NBA fans are more inclined to choose LeBron. What we do know for sure is that these two basketball icons are the greatest to ever play the sport. So, Jordan vs LeBron - who's it going to be?
One way of analyzing the two greats is to compare their career accolades. Michael Jordan famously led his Chicago Bulls to 6 NBA Finals, tasting victory in all 6. LeBron James, on the other hand, has made more Finals appearances (9) but only has only lifted the trophy 3 times. Jordan was awarded the MVP in all 6 of his winning appearances, while LeBron picked up that accolade in the 3 that he won. Regarding the regular season, Jordan was named MVP 5 times, whereas LeBron currently has 4 under his belt.
Unlike Jordan, LeBron has moved teams a few times during his career. The Ohio-born baller will always have to fight that public perception of having had to leave his hometown team to taste NBA Finals success. After spending 7 seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron moved to the star-studded Miami Heat - teaming up with the likes of Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh - to secure his first championship title. Jordan, on the other hand, was the Chicago Bulls' first-round pick in the 1984 draft and stayed his entire career, building Chicago's dynasty from the ground up. LeBron, of course, did sensationally return to Cleveland in 2014, leading the Cavaliers to their first and only championship.
LeBron James has undoubtedly played with some excellent teammates, but he never had Scottie Pippen. Chicago's number 33 was Jordan's right-hand man, and he never won a championship without him. In the current era, Pippen would be a bonafide superstar, the player a franchise would be built around. The fact that he was the number 2 guy in the Bulls dynasty shows the kind of consistent support Jordan had. MJ no doubt had enough talent to win games on his own, but occasionally needed some help from his friend. Yes, LeBron has had some fantastic support, but nothing quite like the partnership between Chicago's 23 and 33.
A tempting argument to make in defense of Jordan being the true GOAT, is that LeBron has himself paid tribute to 'His Airness'. James has acknowledged that MJ built the kingdom he inherited, took the NBA to a global audience, and had basketball competing with the NFL for coverage during his peak years. Let's not forget, LeBron also wears Jordan's number 23 in honor of the great man.