Smith on NBA: James vs. Jordan

February 12, 2013, 8:29 AM

Questions like the one I am about to ask don’t really have a right or wrong answer. Debates and discussions are born from questions like these but resolutions never follow; only more opinion and chatter.

Who is the greatest of all time?

Gretzky, Orr, Lemieux or Howe?
Montana, Payton, Brown or Rice?
Mays, Ruth, Bonds or Aaron?
Russell, Johnson. Jordan or James?

Yes, James — as in LeBron James — is already on that best-of-the-best list. In fact, the argument can be made that he has surpassed nearly everyone who has come before him.

Fresh off his first championship title last June, James is blistering the NBA this season with some mindboggling numbers. He is averaging 27 points-per-game on a whopping 56.2 percent from the floor. It’s his fourth-straight season of 50+ per cent shooting. Throw in a career-best 8.1 rebounds per game to go with 6.9 assists a contest and your head starts spinning.

He is currently on a run of five-straight games with 30 or more points and over his last four games he is shooting 73.7 per cent from the field.

Just how good is this guy?

“If there are (any flaws), they’re not apparent,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey recently told me. “We’ve tried every defence in the world (in Dallas and Toronto) on him. He exposes you. You double-team him; he exposes you. With his size, strength, and quickness, he’s one of the best athletes in the NBA. He’s the best player in the NBA today and (the best) going back over the years to Michael Jordan.”

Casey is right in every way.

There are no flaws. LeBron, arguably, can play all five positions on the floor. He has the passing skills and decision-making of a point guard, the speed, ball-handling, mid-range (and perimeter), and explosiveness of a wing, and the size, strength, rebounding and post-presence of a top-line big man.

Simply put, James has it all and he has the ring now too … finally winning one in his third career Finals appearance.

Granted, Jordan needs both hands to show off his jewelry, but James isn’t done yet. He’s only 28 years old. The Heat star could conceivably be playing in the Association for well over another decade and some believe he is just now entering his prime.

He is, physically, a freak of nature: 6’8″, 250-pounds; agile and aggressive … fluid and forceful. He battles double- and triple-teams on a consistent basis while facing the best defenders and most physical play the opposition can throw out at him every single night. He’s been doing so for 10 years, yet, James has never missed more than seven games in a season.

“Don’t take it for granted,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra recently told reporters in Miami. “He’s making greatness look easy.”

Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell — as great as they were — were men among boys. Without taking a single thing away from their accomplishments, their dominance was skewed to some degree. James is a monster among men. In a league — in a world — where everything and everyone is bigger, faster, and stronger, King James rules the court.

“He’s playing at a level rarely seen,” Lakers guard Steve Nash told ESPN.

During his seven years in Cleveland, James built the Cavaliers into contenders with very little help. He was a Broadway headliner with off-Broadway cast-mates. Now, in Miami, LBJ has his Scottie Pippen (Dwyane Wade). He has his Toni Kukoc or Dennis Rodman or Horace Grant too (Chris Bosh). James has all of the weapons that Jordan did — and more. It’s all about the rings now.

There’s no doubt, as the column (and numbers) state, LeBron is in the conversation. He is already one of the best ever but there’s also no doubt — as the following chart clearly shows — that Jordan has him beat (for now) big time.

Jordan vs. James: By the numbers:

LeBron James Michael Jordan
Years played 10 & counting 15
First championship won Year 9 Year 7
Championship appearances Three Six
Total Championships won One Six
Total Championships won One Six
MVP awards Three Five
Scoring titles One 10
All Star appearances Nine 14
First-team All-NBA Six 10
Defensive Player of the Year Zero One
Rookie of the Year Yes Yes
Olympics Gold Medals (w/ USA) Two Two

Who is the best NBA Player of all time?

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