Posted: 8:35 a.m. Tuesday, March 5, 2013
It’s become pretty clear lately that LeBron James is on an epic tear. In fact, the ultimate question has come up: is he better than Michael Jordan?
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The first problem here is defining greatness. If you define it by athleticism, perhaps it’s close. At 6-8 and over 250, James is far bigger than Jordan and can guard just about anyone on the court. And if you look at this picture, his vertical is amazing. Plus the guy could quit tomorrow and make a good living in the NFL. He’s that strong, and was also a very highly rated football player in high school.
If you go by championships, Jordan wins, but both pale next to Bill Russell: Russell won the last game in every year from his junior season to the time he retired from the NBA expect for two – and he was injured in one of those.
Toss in the 1956 Olympics and that’s 14 championships.
What drove Russell, and Jordan for that matter, was an amazing desire to compete. It’s not clear that LeBron’s is on that level, though it may be. And there’s no question whatsoever that he’s doing things that no one has ever done before.
Still, one suspects that if Jordan were to return, and was, say, half his age and 25, that he’d find a way to outshine James. His desire to compete was off the charts. Our favorite indicator was that the Bulls would never allow Jordan to lift weights with Horace Grant. He could never have outlifted Grant, and the Bulls were worried he’d injure himself trying.
That desire, we expect, would push him past James.
At the very least, it would push James in a way no current player can.