Everyone has an opinion when it comes to the MJ versus LeBron argument. I like to use logic and reason when choosing between two of the most talented, influential, marketable human beings ever to live, let alone play basketball. So here are the top 10 reasons why MJ is the GOAT.
1. Just kidding. I’m not going to subject anyone to the mindless statistical vomit that is constantly covering our television screens and filling our ears with MJ and LeBron takes from the likes of Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless, Jason Whitlock, Brian Windhorst, Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, etc. I know, I know, “but Kyle, I’ve never heard Anderson Cooper’s take on the GOAT. I wonder what he thinks?” And that’s a great point.
Anderson’s straightforward and factual news style lends to the argument that Jordan’s career numbers don’t lie (when stacked up against LeBron’s numbers after 15 seasons), and thus he must be the GOAT. But, not so fast. Anderson has shown a propensity throughout his career to go where no one else would, to take matters into his own hands.
For instance, he once forged a press pass and snuck into Myanmar, a war-ridden country, to interview students fighting against the Burmese government. Anderson had balls big enough to carry the whole news team on his back, much the same as our second GOAT, LeBron. So without his personal testimony, I cannot determine whether Mr. Cooper would choose MJ or LeBron in this debate.
But I think he would agree that both Michael and LeBron have done things on the court that most kids could only dream up in their minds as 9 year-olds playing ball on a 5-foot goal that would fall down every time they attempted a 360 windmill or a behind the back reverse slam.
These guys are too accomplished and too skilled to truly quantify in a way that would give a decisive winner: in career PER, MJ ranks #1 all time with a 27.91 and LeBron ranks #2 all time with a 27.65. For those following at home, PER is Player Efficiency Rating which factors in positive plays and negative plays to offer a rating of the player’s performance. According to this ‘all-encompassing’ statistic, these are the two best basketball players ever and the margin is too close to say one is definitely better.
So, if I were to get into a debate over who is the GOAT, which I’m not, I would have to consider off-the-court factors as well. Let’s take a look.
- Shoe game: While LeBron has a lifetime contract with Nike, there is no denying that Jordan is king of the shoe game. Not only does he get paid more than any other basketball player, former or current, for his name on a pair of kicks, but Jordan’s shoes over the years are undeniably more cool than LeBron’s. Plus the dude has his own brand and logo that are recognized the world over. +1 Jordan.
- Acting Career: Michael Jordan has starred in more films to date (1), but LeBron had a supporting role in Trainwreck, which he was pretty good in. LeBron is also set to star in the sequel to Space Jam, Jordan’s one starring role. If Space Jam 2 is serviceable, at a minimum, the advantage will switch to LeBron, but for now I have to give it to Mike. +1 Jordan.
- Kids: Jordan’s sons never amounted to more than garbage-time fillers on terrible college teams, while LeBron’s oldest son has already inked an NBA deal to play with his father when he turns 18. +1 LeBron.
- Gambling Addiction: +1 LeBron.
- College Career: +1 Jordan.
- Magazine Covers While in High School: LeBron was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in high school. Jordan was not. +1 LeBron.
Final tally: 3-3. As with quantitative analysis, it’s just too close to call.
They are both great, maybe we shouldn’t choose a side. They are the two best players I have ever seen play and I can’t opine as to which is “better” than the other.
So here are the top 5 reasons not to have the GOAT debate:
- It’s tired and there is no right or wrong.
- They played in different eras so we will never know.
- If Michael and LeBron don’t care then why should we?
- It’s impossible to compare statistics and impact equally.
- Bill Russell won more titles than MJ and LeBron, combined.
So there we have it. I can’t think of one good reason to debate the GOAT anymore.
Up next, I chronicle why the MJ vs. LeBron Debate should really be MJ vs. LeBron vs. Kobe. Stay tuned.
P.S. Bill did it first, LeBron.