TALE OF THE TAPE

Tale Of The Tape: Jordan Vs. James

As we head into the 2014 NBA Finals, it’s the Spurs facing off against the Heat. As LeBron James and Miami look to “Three-Peat,” there is plenty of discussion over who is the better player, James or Michael Jordan?  Throughout both of their careers there have been achievements on both sides — and some statistics that put one player over the other.  Let’s take a look at some of these factors…and figure out who is the better player.

Michael Jordan
LeBron James
(BRIAN BAHR/AFP/Getty Images)
(DON EMMERT/AFP/GettyImages)
(BRIAN BAHR/AFP/Getty Images)
(DON EMMERT/AFP/GettyImages)
Championships
Winner The most obvious reason as to why Michael Jordan is still the best: Championships. Jordan has 6 NBA titles in a 19-year career. He was drafted in 1984 and won his first championship in 1991, winning 5 more championships in the next 7 years. Michael Jordan won 6 titles with the Chicago Bulls in 14 years.
LeBron James has played in the league for 10 seasons now and has 2 NBA championships to show for it. That number doesn't compare to Jordan's 6, but to dig a little deeper, Jordan won his first 3 titles in his first 10 years in the NBA. He then won 6 total championships in 14 years. LeBron has won 2 titles in 10 years. When it comes to titles, if James wants to be in the same category with Jordan he would have to win a title every year for the next four years.
Offense
Winner The next comparison would be offensive statistics. Jordan compiled a 50% field goal percentage in his career in the NBA, scoring over 32,000 points, which makes him the third all-time scoring leader. Jordan was MVP of the league 5 times, with his first coming in 1988, his fourth season. He appeared in 13 All-Star games, starting all of them, and earned 2 Olympic Gold Medals. In the playoffs, Jordan scored the most points in playoff history: 5,987. The next-closest? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762) who played in the league one more season than Jordan. In every playoff series that Jordan played in, he led his team in points scored.
James' offensive statistics: 50% from the field and over 23,000 points. James would have to score 9,122 points in the next 9 years to tie Jordan for third on the all-time list in the same amount of time (19 years). James has been named NBA MVP 4 times in 10 years, has appeared in 10 All-Star games, won Defensive Player of the Year 5 times and has 2 Olympic gold medals. In the two years that he won his titles, James shot 55% from the field and averaged 8 rebounds per game. James has scored 4,782 points in the NBA Playoffs, which is 8th-most all-time.
Defense
Defense is a key component when playing in the NBA. Michael Jordan won Defensive Player of the Year in 1988, the only time he would be named that title in his 19 year career. During his time in the NBA, Jordan blocked 33% of the shots he saw in games, averaged 6 rebounds per game, and 5 assists per game. In the playoffs, Jordan's numbers were a bit more impressive throughout his career. In the 6 years Jordan won the NBA title he averaged about 10 steals per game in the playoffs.
Winner Defense for LeBron James has given him the Defensive Player of the Year 5 times. LeBron averaged 3 steals per game in 2012 & 2013 in the NBA playoffs. He only averaged about 2 blocks per game in those NBA playoffs.
Team
Winner Finally, the topic that should be considered is the team around the player in the championship games. Michael Jordan's 6 championships were won all with the Chicago Bulls. From 91-93, the Bulls team had the exact same roster every year they won the championship. The players were all drafted by the Bulls. From 96-98, the Bulls' roster changed a bit but it was the same roster all three of those years as well. The first three championships, Jordan scored 33% of the points in the playoffs while Scottie Pippen scored the other chunk of points in the playoffs. In the final three championships for Jordan he was still the leading scorer in all the playoffs with Scottie Pippen scoring second most in those series. Jordan led his team every year to win the NBA Championships with the team built around him.
The team around LeBron James is not in his favor. James spent his first 7 seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, not winning one championship with that team and never making it to the finals. LeBron tried to have a team built around him in the Cavaliers but could not win championships. Then James decided to "take his talents to South Beach" and go to the Miami Heat to play with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. He didn't win the title his first year with the Heat but the second year, James won his first title. He was the leading scorer in the playoffs in 2012 but Dwayne Wade was a close second and Chris Bosh not far behind. The same in 2013, but the team added Ray Allen. LeBron had to go to a team with numerous scoring leaders while Michael Jordan played with a team that was built around him.

The Winner Is

(BRIAN BAHR/AFP/Getty Images)
Winner Michael Jordan
3 out of 4

Based on the numbers, LeBron James has a lot of ground to make up if he's going to take the title of best NBA player of all time from Michael Jordan.

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