LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan? Jim Boeheim might take LeBron

LeBron James has had one of the most successful years in 2012, winning a regular season NBA MVP, NBA title and now gold medal in the London Olympics.

It has been impressive. He looks to be in his absolute prime. But now come the overreactions made possible by the idiots that were considered “haters” before he had won anything.

“I’ve always thought Michael Jordan was the best player that I’ve ever seen,” USA Basketball assistant coach Jim Boeheim said on Colin Cowherd’s radio show yesterday. “I always have and I didn’t think it was close. I’m not so sure any more. And I love Michael Jordan. I’m not so sure anymore.

“This guy is 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds, and he’s getting better. He works on his game. His shooting is getting better. He’s a phenomenal, phenomenal basketball player. I love his game; I love the history of this game. I know we’ve had great, great players through the years. He’s like Magic Johnson with Michael Jordan-type skills as well.”

Where this gets really stupid is at the end and a lot of people have been doing this lately. It’s when you say LeBron is Magic-plus-M.J. Sure, LeBron is a willing passer who gets like half as many assists as Magic and he’s one of the best athletes in the NBA kind of like how M.J. was the best athlete of all-time.

The real problem here though is saying LeBron has the skills Jordan did. What are you defining as skills here? LeBron is very skilled for his size, no one is questioning that, but Jordan was one of the most skilled players in the history of the game. His handle, footwork, shot creativity and defensive fundamentals are all significantly better than what LeBron’s are.

Everything LeBron does is based on his size and speed or his high basketball IQ (probably the highest in the NBA). Those aren’t skills, they’re just physical ability. He’s so different than M.J. the way he gets stuff done on a basketball court.

“He’s a 6-9, 260-pound point guard-forward-center,” Boeheim went on to say. “He guarded the post guys. They always say a guy can guard five positions, I’ve never seen that. I’ve heard about it. This guy can guard five guys. He can guard your center, he can guard your small forward, big forward, point guard, two guard. You put him on anybody and he can guard them.”

People need to stop with this thing where you say LeBron can guard positions 1-5. I understand he is the most versatile defender in the league but it’s not like he’s shutting down Russell Westbrook or Dwight Howard. He can’t guard guys like that. He can guard 2-4 very well and at times can contend with 1’s and 5’s. There, that’s fair.

This is not a knock on LeBron though in any way. The player he is right now is fine which is obvious since he is winning everything right now (that’s part of why the MJ-comparison will always be unfair). The problem is with Boeheim and every person out there who is so obsessed with attaching themselves to greatness, making them feel warm and important inside I guess.

I get the thing where you go to London for two weeks and watch LeBron play the best he ever has and come away thinking he is the greatest thing ever. It’s like whenever you watch any documentary out there and then after think it’s the greatest thing ever. It reels you in and magnifies the importance of whatever it is.

The difference is smart people, or people who think before they talk, should be able to realize this, take a step back and assess the situation. Boeheim was not this when he joined Cowherd’s radio show.

No one should be able to watch LeBron up to this point in his career and say that he is going to become greater than Jordan, or even worse, Magic-plus-Jordan. It just doesn’t make sense to believe that.

I guess there is a scenario out there that is possible just like there is a scenario out there where the 2012 Olympic team “could” beat the 1992 Dream Team if they played. That doesn’t make them greater though.

For what it’s worth, here is how I assess LeBron so far and how I think his career will play out:

Statistically he is on a Wilt-like level so far in his career. He’s been the best player in the NBA for the last three years or so and he will probably continue to be the best for another three or so. A 6-year window of being the best player is pretty hard to do.

I would predict LeBron wins 3-4 championships in his career. That would just about meet expectations. Every time he wins, he should be the Finals MVP too, unless he gets a title or too very late in his career.

Ultimately he will be considered a top eight player of all-time at least. The players probably ahead of him will be: Jordan-Russell-Kareem-Magic-Bird-Wilt-Kobe-Duncan. He’ll be in front of Robertson-Olajuwon-West-Moses-Shaq. I think LeBron could get right around No. 5 best ever, next to Magic and Bird but I doubt we ever consider him top three.

If that makes me a hater then so be it.

Tags: 2012 Olympics Best NBA Player Ever Jim Boeheim LeBron James Magic Johnson Michael Jordan NBA Finals NBA MVP

  • Anthony

    Shut up

  • RegularGuy13

    Let me preface this by saying MJ is the best player of all time and there were some very good points in article. Just like the Lebron “haters” he makes a stupid argument. Lebron can not guard a “1″. Lebron didnt shut down Derrick Rose in the 4th quarter of last years Eastern Conference Finals. I believe shutting down the MVP point guard is being able to guard a “1″.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5136849 Andrew Kennedy

      I know the job LeBron did on Rose was amazing. I saw LeBron unable to guard Westbrook the few times they were matched up in the Finals. Westbrook just blew right by him a number of times. Obviously, Westbrook isn’t the easiest guy to match up with and I’m sure LeBron can hang with a lot of point guards. I still agree that LeBron is the most versatile defender in the league.

  • Bobby

    I think it’s actually people like you who live in the past, and think that players from the 80′s and 90′s are better than players now. Put MJ on Lebron’s Cavs teams and I highly doubt they’d make it the finals… it would be like Kobe’s Lakers when they lost to Phoenix every year in the early rounds of the playoffs.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5136849 Andrew Kennedy

      You are clueless.

  • Faulky

    Boeheim, head coach of Syracuse. Professional Basketball player. Assistant coach for Team USA, 1990, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012… That Boeheim? Or, you, a 2006 student of Journalism who likes statistics? I get it, you wrote a decent article. But, let’s assume you were 9-12 when Jordan was really in his prime and playing. Jim had already won 700 games. Old vs New is no comparison. The athletes of the 80s cannot compete in any discipline with athletes today. Jordan was amazing. A real pleasure to watch. He never played against the caliber of of player that sits on the bench today (individuals maybe, but a squad of 5? nope). Defenses are different. Offenses are different. Speed is significantly different. He would be great today. But as great against a 7 foot guy with speed and finess (Durant). No way.

  • Jon Frank

    I disagree with this article.