There is no greater comparison and debate in the NBA world than who is the better player between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. A question that has started numerous arguments divided the older and younger generations of fans, who each have cases for their guys. It’s always fun to see and discuss, as every analyst, player, and coach has their opinion.
All the talk about these two is so big and repetitive that you know MJ and LeBron themselves know all about it and measure each other’s legacy competitively, even if they never spoke about it. For the better part of James’s career, he has been chasing the ghost of MJ, trying to catch up and establish himself as the GOAT. Even though LeBron has done wonders in his career, a lot of people don’t think it is enough to crown him the best.
We all know about Jordan’s competitive nature. It is notorious and unmatched, as even MJ himself called it a disease he can’t get rid of. So it’s only natural for him to want to be the #1 guy and have that title forever. So when someone of LeBron’s magnitude dominates the NBA for so long and raises the question of who is better between the two, MJ has to take notice and observe him.
The two legends have mutual respect for each other, but you just know MJ would never give up his crown, as he has LeBron’s career on a close-watch, proved by this ESPN piece from 2013. During a Heat-Jazz game MJ was watching, the announcers started praising LeBron heavily and comparing him to Jordan. That caught MJ’s attention, as he began to analyze LeBron’s game and point out a flaw:
“I study him,” he says.
When LeBron goes right, he usually drives; when he goes left, he usually shoots a jumper. It has to do with his mechanics and how he loads the ball for release. “So if I have to guard him,” Jordan says, “I’m gonna push him left so nine times out of 10, he’s gonna shoot a jump shot. If he goes right, he’s going to the hole and I can’t stop him. So I ain’t letting him go right.”ESPN, Outside The Lines
Jordan went on calling out every move LeBron would make, predicting what’s going to happen and get it right every time. Not only regarding LeBron, but the whole game, showing just how much he knows about the game of basketball even ten years after finally retiring. It’s the ultimate form of respect for LeBron, seeing the greatest studies your game into details and prepares as if he is going to guard you. Calling out LeBron’s tendencies and assuring he would lock him down confidently is truly in MJ’s style. Jordan’s plan sounds logical and straightforward, but it is another thing to put it on paper and a whole another to actually stop it in-game.
After all, we are talking about a freak of nature that the NBA hasn’t been able to figure out for the past 18 years. So for Jordan to say he would lock him down with this simple trick is a bit presumptuous but definitely charismatic. Knowing MJ’s prime defensive ability and sheer willpower, maybe he could have pulled it off and guarded LeBron efficiently. Unfortunately, we will never know. So the next time you try to say these two don’t even care about the GOAT debate, think about it twice, as these two greats know very well how the legacy’s look and who the better player is.