Last night LeBron passed MJ on the All-Time scoring list, and while that’s #neat and all, it brings up the age-old debate of “Who is the GOAT? MJ or LeBron???”
Since this is the oldest debate in my lifetime almost to the point of exhaustion, I am not going to beat you all over the head with this… You probably already sit on one side or the other and are vehemently dug in your heels, and honestly, I’ll never be able to get you to change… Or can I?
I saw on Twitter one of those CLASSIC “Jordan is better” arguments that he is better because he went 6-0 in the finals and LeBron has LOST six times, ipso facto, Jordan is better. BUT, for some reason this time it made me think… “Jordan’s career wasn’t only 6 years in the league? So what happened in all those other years??”
We always FAULT LeBron for losing in the championship(s), but shouldn’t we then also fault MJ for not even making it there?
Let’s take a look at their team’s season-by-season results to get some context around this:
(P.S. we’re ignoring this season as it’s still ongoing and this actually compares exactly MJ’s whole 15 year NBA career and the 15 seasons LeBron has completed)
MJ vs LeBron (Team Results)
Look, there is a lot of green on both sides (green means you at the very least MADE the playoffs… the darker the green, the more successful the playoff run). Visually, it’s clear they both have UNREAL resumes.
Through 15 seasons, both of them made the playoffs thirteen times. Eerily similar. For James, he missed his first two years, whereas Jordan missed his last two.
Of the 13 playoff years, LeBron’s earliest exit from the playoffs came in the 2nd Round and that happened three times. For Jordan, the earliest he was sent home was the first round, which also happened three times. He even got booted in the 2nd round twice… So from THAT standpoint – not a great look if you’re an MJ guy!!
In Conference Championships, LeBron has only lost once, whereas MJ was sent home twice.
And then, there’s the NBA Finals!! LeBron made it to nine – NINE – NBA Finals, where Jordan only made it to six. Yes, LeBron lost six times, but getting there nine times means he won NINE Eastern Conference Finals. And there is no way around it, Jordan was 6-0. Undefeated. NEVER LOST.
So maybe it would make sense to compare their playoff records round-by-round, maybe that’ll help settle this, right?
Alright. So what did all of this prove? Maybe nothing… In fact, PROBABLY nothing.
More likely than not Jordan stans are going to only highlight the 6-0 Finals record, and the LeBron stans are going to highlight things like “never lost in the 1st round” and “nine conference titles.”
The debate will rage on, and honestly, it should. They both are great in their own rights, and both did things that were never done before.
Maybe, just MAYBE, I opened eyes to the fact that Jordan didn’t ONLY win 6 titles and that’s it. He lost a lot in the playoffs. So did LeBron though.
I just hate the 6-0 trump card and needed to dump on that argument for a while.