One Quick Thought About LeBron James

Not LeBron James

Since everybody else is talking about LeBron James right now, I wanted to throw in one observation.

There is one reason why “Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James” debates will always end with Jordan on top. One reason why Jordan was, is, and always will be considered greater than James.

That reason is this: Jordan didn’t spend his formative years with everyone in the world telling him how great he was. Jordan had to deal with early setbacks that gave him a tremendous chip on his shoulder which, in later years, he would remove from his shoulder and use to beat people into submission.

From a purely physical standpoint, from a raw talent standpoint, James is better. But the one quality that James can’t touch is Jordan’s inhuman will to win. And in a league where everybody’s physical and everybody’s talented, the will to win can make a lot of difference.

It’s a good object lesson for a society that tries to make children’s lives as self-esteemy and disappointment-free as possible. Sometimes a dose of failure can light a fire that no amount of praise could.


  1. kal-el

    Agree. You nailed the will-power, character reasons Jordan is better.

    There are basketball reasons as well. Jordan was at least equally adept (if not more so) at taking people off the dribble and finishing at the rim. The fact that his drives involved grace, deceptiveness, off-the-chart-creativity, and the apparent ability to fly for brief periods of time in addition to posterizing finishes instead of lowering your shoulder and running over people like Michael Moore on the way to the refrigerator is just bonus.

    MJ’s jumper was far superior (read “consistent”) to LeBron’s (as San Antonio helped point out over the last two finals). And as far as being a facilitator and knowing when to give it up, he was no slouch – just ask Paxon, Armstrong, and Kerr.

    Also, James’s first name sounds suspiciously French. Did he really grow up in Akron? Somebody check his records and insert your own “cheese-eating, surrender monkey” joke here. Finally, Magic, Michael, and Larry could play in the 90 degree heat without passing out – #Boston Garden.

    1. Jason

      Those are some good points, right there. You, sir, clearly know a lot about basketball. My further question about the will/talent disparity would be this: how much of Jordan’s basketball talent is the result of willing himself to be better as opposed to James relying on raw talent? For instance, my understanding is that Jordan’s jumper was not as consistent until he was forced to rely on it more after returning from retirement. Since he knew he needed the jumper more, he made a point of working on it until he could rely on it as much as he could previously rely on his explosiveness at the rim. I think that Jordan would outwork James every day and twice on Sunday.

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