Nick Wright of FoxSports1 went on “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd some time at the end of last week to continue a discussion he had on the same show almost three weeks ago and attempted to form an argument that LeBron James has surpassed Michael Jordan as the Greatest Of All Time in the NBA. The original argument takes place between the 3:10 and 8:48 marks of the video below. A few days ago I came across a Tweet from almost three weeks ago that played a bit of the original argument and I was blown away at how smug, arrogant, and unintelligent Nick Wright was, so I thought I’d respond to his verbal-vomit in an attempt to reel-in any of the tens-of-thousands of people he infected with his puerile-clownishness.
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) May 10, 2017
“Let me make this part clear: LeBron has not accomplished all the things Michael accomplished.”
Ok, let me make this part clear: It’s good that you made that point clear because it’s a very important point of discussion in this debate (that’s not really a debate), and because it is the case that “greatness” is an accomplishment, the individual-accomplishments of the two players at the center of this discussion are vital to compiling respective-resumes for the position of G.O.A.T. Now if it were the case that LeBron had a handful of accomplishments to his name that Jordan didn’t and some other case to be argued that he was better than Jordan, than we could have a discussion and you could loudly present LeBron’s case with the absurd amount of arrogance and smugness you have been the last several weeks. But Nick, LeBron’s accomplished next-to-nothing in his career that Jordan didn’t, the one prominent stat in the minds of basketball fans right now being total playoff points scored. But even though LeBron “has done it longer” than Jordan as you point out, he’s only averaged 28.3 ppg in 212 career playoff games. He just passed Jordan in total career playoff points, while “His Airness” averaged five more points per playoff game over the course of his career in more than 40 fewer career playoff games.
But because you want to pretend Jordan’s overwhelming advantage in accomplishments can be so-easily dismissed and want to discount them all-together when presenting your argument we must touch on how far ahead of LeBron he is on this very important discussion-point of this debate. LeBron has played 14 total NBA seasons, while Jordan played 15 total (even considering injuries). Here’s the very-long list of accomplishments Jordan has over LeBron:
- Rings (6/3)
- MVPs (5/4)
- Finals MVPs (6/3)
- Scoring Titles (10/1)
- Defensive Player of the Year Awards (1/0)
- All-Defensive 1st-teams (9/5)
- All-Defensive teams in total (9/6)
- Steals Titles (3/0)
- All-Star Games (14/13)
- Playoff Appearances (13/12)
Both players won Rookie of the Year and LeBron has two major accomplishments over Jordan. He’s made the All-NBA First Team one more time (11/10) and made more total All-NBA teams than Jordan (13/11). And that’s it for major accomplishments (there may be some obscure NBA accomplishments that I’m not aware of but nothing to make up the vast-chasm separating Jordan from LeBron in terms of accomplishments on their resumes). Jordan has double LeBron’s ring total, won more MVPs, won twice as many Finals MVPs, has ten times the number of scoring titles that James has, has a Defensive Player of the Year Award to his resume that LeBron does not, made almost twice as many All-Defensive 1st-teams, made 50% more All-Defensive teams in total, lead the league in steals three times, where LeBron never did, made more All-Star games, and missed the playoffs fewer times in years where each respective player played the majority of the season. If we gave a point for each of these bulleted-accomplishments Michael would lead James by a very-significant 76-47 margin. That’s a ratio of more than 1.6:1. I understand that not all those accomplishments are created equally, but Jordan leads in virtually every-single-one, so it’s a valid, rough-representation of how far behind LeBron is.
“But Michael didn’t accomplish all the things Kareem accomplished, and everyone thinks Michael’s better than him.”
Let me preface my response to this point by pointing out that all you’re doing here is attempting to discredit a sound-argument without actually making a counter-argument so if anybody falls for it you don’t have to make a sound-argument going forward.
First of all here’s a list of major accomplishments Kareem has over Jordan:
- One more MVP in five more seasons
- Four more total All-NBA teams in five more seasons
- Five more All-Star game appearances in five more seasons
- Six more All-Defensive 2nd/3rd teams in five more seasons
- Jordan made four more All-Defensive 1st teams than Kareem and never made a lower team
- Five more playoff appearances in five more seasons
- One more single-season rebounds title
- Four more single-season blocks titles
And here’s a list of major accomplishments Jordan has over Kareem in five fewer seasons:
- Four more Finals MVPs
- Eight more scoring titles
- One more Defensive Player of the Year Award
- Four more All-Defensive 1st teams
- Three more single-season steals titles
So Nick, your implication that Kareem was more accomplished than Jordan is misleading at best and just flat-out wrong at worst. One more MVP, four more total All-NBA teams in five more seasons, five more All-Star Game appearances in five more seasons, six more second and third-team All-Defense selections, five more playoff appearances in five more seasons, one single-season rebound title and four more single-season blocks titles for a center hardly makes one more accomplished than a shooting guard who had four more Finals MVPs, eight more scoring titles, A Defensive Player of the Year Award, four more All-Defensive 1st team selections and three more single-season steals titles.
“When Michael retired the first time, nine years in, three titles, when he retired, they put up a statue that said ‘The Greatest To Ever Do It.’ Even though he didn’t have the accomplishments, because people looked at him and said ‘he’s better at basketball than anyone I’ve ever seen.'”
First of all, virtually-nobody having this discussion today is claiming that Jordan was the GOAT after his first retirement, so you’re having to create a straw-man to make your point here. You’re also doing this in order to discredit the importance of accomplishments in this discussion because your argument can’t hold any water if you don’t.
“LeBron James is better at basketball THAN ANYONE I’VE EVER SEEN. Period. Point-Blank.”
I will grant that LeBron may be a more-skilled basketball player than Jordan was, but that’s not the discussion anybody is having. We are talking about who, as the title of your video says, the Greatest basketball player Of All-Time (GOAT) is. The quote above is purely-opinion and employing a “Period. Point-Blank.” argument is sophomoric. That’s how 16-year-olds debate.
“And when you say ‘what did Jordan do better?’ It’s a good question. Because the one thing people say was ‘Jordan was a better scorer.’ Well, was he? Jordan for his career averaged exactly three more points per game than LeBron averaged. But he did it on more than three more shots per game.”
Here’s a quick list of basic regular-season stats that Jordan has on LeBron that you so-quickly dismiss:
- Three more points per game (as you state)
- 44% more steals per game
- .06 more blocks per game
- 9.5% better from the free throw line
In the playoffs, “the moment superstars become superstars” as Gregg Doyel would say, your case gets even worse as Jordan recorded:
- More than five more points per game
- 17% more steals per game
- a .4% better field goal percentage
- a .3% better three-point percentage
- a 8.4% better free throw percentage
“LeBron shoots a better percentage from two, shoots a better percentage from three, shoots a better true shooting percentage, averages more… rebounds, averages more assists…”
Most of these claims are all true, though it is misleading to say that LeBron “shoots a better percentage from two” because while James does shoot 50.1% from the field to Jordan’s 49.7%, in the playoffs MJ overtakes LBJ at 48.7% compared to 48.3%. It’s also misleading to say LeBron “shoots a better percentage from three” because while James did shoot 34.2% from three for his career to Jordan’s 32.7%, during the playoffs MJ was the superior shooter from distance, hitting on 33.2% of his long-range bombs to LeBron’s 32.9%.
But you’ve also just cherry-picked five stats that LeBron out-performed Jordan in and the opposite can just as easily be done. And I know how much you LeBron-guys love advanced metrics.
- Jordan’s career PER (Player Efficiency Rating) was 27.9 (an All-Time record)
- LeBron’s career PER is 27.6
- Jordan’s PER in his 13 seasons with the Bulls was 29.1
- LeBron’s average PER in his 13 best seasons is 28.4
- Jordan had a career Win Share total of 214.0
- LeBron’s is 205.4
- Jordan’s Win Share total in his 13 seasons with the Bulls was 204.5
- LeBron’s Win Share total for his 13 best seasons is 200.3
- Jordan’s total-VORP (Value Above Replacement Player) in his 11 seasons with the Bulls that he played in more than 18 games was 102.8
- LeBron’s total-VORP in his 11 best seasons is 99.6
“(LeBron) is CLEARLY the more versatile defender. LeBron James can guard five positions on the court…”
“And by the way, LeBron James has now done it longer.”
Done what longer, Nick? Jordan played in 15 NBA seasons, LeBron’s still on his 14th. Jordan won his first scoring title (his first major accomplishment) in this third season and his last 11 years later. LeBron’s first major accomplishment was also a scoring title in his fifth season and that was nine seasons ago. LBJ’s first All-Star game was 12 seasons ago, Jordan went 12 seasons between his first and last All-Star appearance with the Bulls and 14 seasons between his first and last career All-Star appearances. Jordan went ten years between his first and last MVP Awards, LeBron only went eight between his first and last TOP-TWO finish in the MVP-voting.
“LeBron James sustained excellence of never being hurt! He’s six minutes away from 50,000 career minutes.”
And Michael played 48,485. Who cares?
“In about a week and a half he’s gonna pass Jordan in playoff points which will give more, everything than Jordan in the playoffs.”
Except (since you’re childishly-forbidding me to use the words “six rings”)….
“And the eye test. He’s better!”
Awe yes, the ‘ole “eye test.” The argument for when you have no argument.
“He’s bigger, he’s stronger, he’s faster, he’s more durable, he has a better long-range game, he has a better interior game, he’s a better play-maker.
“I know he doesn’t have the six rings, I get it, Jordan has more accomplishments…”
A lot more.
“but… the aliens come down, you have one game to save humanity, who’s your first pick in the history of the world? This. LeBron. James. Right. Now.”
“And at this point, it’s the other side, that has the burden of proof on their hands. The other side, someone needs to come to me, and explain to me what Jordan is better at than LeBron without saying the words ‘six rings.'”
“And because, for the last, almost 30 years, he’s been the best player ever, but things end.”
Hasn’t ended, he’s still the best player ever.
“And let me make one more point about LeBron… the one knock on LeBron, and it’s a fair one, is the Mavs series, it’s a totally fair one. Here’s a fun thought experiment for the audience: let’s act as if the entirety of LeBron’s first eight years, from the first game he ever played against the Sacramento Kings on national television, until the last game they played in the Finals against the Mavs, those first eight years, that involved two MVPs, a bunch of first-team All-NBA’s, two trips to the Finals, the 48-special against Detroit, let’s pretend those eight years never happened. Wipe it off the screen. Here’s what we got. Since that moment LeBron has had the greatest stretch of basketball of any player ever.”
Nope. Jordan’s entire career was the greatest stretch of basketball of any player ever.
“He is going on a stretch were he will make his sixth-straight final, no one made more than four straight since Russell’s Celtics, he has two MVP’s in that stretch, he has three rings, he has three finals MVPs, it would have been four but one year when he averaged 36-13-9, the guy who held him to 36-13-9 in the Finals, they gave him the MVP.”
Didn’t you just spend a couple minutes trying to convince people that accomplishments don’t matter? And now you’re trying to argue that LeBron is the GOAT based on accomplishments?
“He went to a team that was not a playoff team and made them a champion.”
So did Jordan.
“He left that team and they missed the playoffs.”
The 1999 Bulls had the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
“He went to a team that had three out of four first overall picks, took them to the Finals immediately.”
This point might actually hurt your argument, Nick.
“If all we knew about LeBron, take away the first eight years of brilliance, if all we knew about LeBron was the last six, guess what we would say? ‘I think he’s the best I’ve ever seen.'”
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