By: Tyrone Montgomery Jr.
Headline Photo Credit: Multiple Sources-Darrell Owens
We live in a world where debates are a thing. I always say that sports relate to everything. I tend to tell my wife that just about every single day and she will debate with me about that for hours. The subject at hand today is subjected around “Greatness”, Michael Jordan and LeBron James. The 2 are and were great at their profession.
This isn’t a debate like the one many saw from Trump and Biden. No sir. This is a grown man debate. Opinions are important. Everyone is entitled to them. But in the end, the facts are what matters. Let’s Debate.
Today, in this day of age, everyone depends on their cell phones for literally EVERYTHING. We call our family and friends with it, we take pictures, play games, pay our bills, and even search the internet on it. Many of you may be reading this debate from your cell phones. If I were to take a poll as to which cell phone is more reliable between Android and Apple, I’m almost certain Apple would win. Of course, that’ll be up for debate but Apple has been around for a while now and has had longevity proving to be pretty reliable. In a sense, Android is Michael Jordan and Lebron is Apple.
The first thing that comes up with Lebron James is his reign of playing in the NBA Finals. It’s safe to say that Lebron has dominated being in the finals for whatever conference he has been in. While his NBA Finals record isn’t one to brag about (4-6), the fact that he’s been to 10 NBA Finals is remarkable! Guys like Steve Nash, Grant Hill, C-Webber, and even James Harden and Carmelo Anthony are no-doubt Hall of Famers. But as good as they are, they have never even reached the NBA Finals. I’m sure Lebron is still counting the rings because his legacy isn’t done just yet. He has at least a good 3 years left in the tank. Michael Jordan’s perfect 6 for 6 in the NBA Finals is another remarkable milestone. But how can we make a debate about the finals records and wins when you have a guy in Bill Russell with 11 Championships? Where is he at in the debate since rings matter?
The fact that Lebron James is the only player that comes up in a GOAT Debate is astonishing to me. I mean that has to tell us all something there right? Why mention it if you have no doubt in your mind already about Michael Jordan? Out of all the players that have played in the league from the late great Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, even Tim Duncan and Shaq, the only player that’s debated with Jordan is Lebron. Why?
As mentioned, Jordan’s Flawless Finals Record is worth a mention. But let’s face the times here, shall we? Jordan had the best coach in basketball in Phil Jackson. Many people consider him maybe the best coach of all time. Jordan also had the best GM at that time in Jerry Krause. As much as we talk about MJ’s “The Last Dance” Netflix Film, that documentary was about Jerry as much as it was about Jordan. Jerry was a genius when it came to putting the right pieces around Jordan. One-piece was of coarse, Scottie Pippen. Pippen was so good, even after MJ retired after the first 3-Peat, Pippen was still able to win 50+ games, just 2 shy from when MJ was leading them.
LeBron got the short end of the stick
Let’s focus our attention on Lebron James. Incompetence has surrounded Lebron ALOT of his career. He didn’t have the best of coaching. They simply haven’t gotten the job done. From Mike Brown to David Blatt to even Luke Walton, they simply weren’t the guys. In a sense, they are to be considered as journeymen, bouncing all around the league. Not to mention Paul Silas and Brendan Malone. The list goes on and on! And some of it is the GM fault for not bringing in the best talent around Lebron, especially when it comes to talent that fits at that. The right pieces fell in MJ’s lap. Lebron had to beg for help. His pleas became so overbearing, Bron sometimes put matters in his own hands. He pretty much tampered to get AD to LA. And he got so fed up with what he was given in Cleveland the first time, that’s when he decided to take his talents to South Beach where he knew D-Wade and Bosh would accompany him. Even when he returned to Cleveland, he knew Kyrie was there and Love was coming. But that brings me to my next debate. Lebron loses his 2 best co-workers in that Finals Series vs. the Warriors back in 2015. He turned Matthew Dellavedova into a star and now he’s nowhere to be found after leaving Lebron. Lebron was outmanned! It was an ambush. Despite losing that series, he still almost won Finals MVP. Could you imagine MJ’s Finals record if he didn’t have Scottie there with him for an entire Finals Series? Or if Dennis Rodman was even a bit banged up with bad knees as D Wade had?
That very next season In 2016, Lebron became the first player to overcome a 3-1 deficit to come back and win the NBA Finals vs. the Golden State Warriors. He wanted revenge and he got it. But the Warriors got a bit of revenge of their own after they acquired another Superstar in Kevin Durant. Lebron was simply outmatched. This wasn’t even fair for anyone at this moment. Jordan’s Bulls teams wouldn’t have been able to overcome that Warriors team. Jordan never had to worry about facing Super Teams. Lebron Did…
The Greatest Teammate
At 6’9 tall, weighing over 250 Pounds, along with barely having any body fat on his frame, Lebron James has proved to be one of most in shaped players of all time. He takes good care of his body and never really gets hurt either. This is a part of longevity but with his skill set at that size, Lebron could have led the league in scoring every year, to be honest, especially early on in his career. But, he knows the game of basketball is a team game and you would have much more success on and off the court being a team player. That’s why he is the Greatest Teammate. He simply makes the players around him better. I already mentioned Matthew Dellavedova, but do you remember Daniel “Booby” Gibson? What about Timofey Mozgov? Or even Chris Anderson? You may not know him as Chris Anderson. The only way most would remember him as is “BIRDMAN!” How about Norris Cole? These guys benefited the most playing alongside Lebron James. As much as Kyrie has ever thrown shade at Lebron, Kyrie Irving knows his career was nothing until Lebron showed up in his life. Ever since Lebron left Cleveland, have we heard anything about Kevin Love? Lebron has always been loved by his teammates and he always will. MJ on the other hand mentioned winning comes at a cost in “The Last Dance.” That cost meaning some teammates hated him like BJ Armstrong perhaps or even Steve Kerr, who he punched in the face.
He’s Won Everywhere He’s Been
James has played for 3 different NBA Franchises (Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, LA Lakers). Every team he’s played for, he has won an NBA Championship there. He isn’t the first to win 3 rings with 3 different teams. Let’s give some love to his teammate Danny Green (Spurs, Raptors, Lakers). They did this accomplishment together. Of course, we can’t forget about another former Laker, Robert Horry who was known as Big Shot Bob! (Spurs, Rockets, Lakers). And lastly, there’s John Salley who was the first player to win with not only 3 different teams, but also in 3 different decades too (Pistons, Bulls, Lakers). But in the case of Lebron James, he not only joined this elite group to win on 3 different teams. He also became the first player in NBA history to win Finals MVP too. What an impressive accomplishment! In the case of Michael Jordan, Besides the Chicago Bulls, the only team Jordan has played for were the Washington Wizards. Jordan was there for 2 Seasons, and they failed to even reach the playoffs with him. They had losing records each year with a 37-45 Regular Season Record.
The Bottom Line is this. Michael Jordan was great when he played. During his era, yes, he was considered the GOAT. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind about that. But like those cell phones, there are always bigger and better players ready to take on that title and role. We loved the iPhone when it first came out. But aren’t we exciting and expecting the new iPhone 12 Pro to be the best iPhone ever? When Lebron decided to take his talents to LA, there was so much chatter about him. This chatter became envy and slander. “Lebron is Washed.” “He’s only here for Space Jam 2.” He will never make another NBA Finals let alone win in the West.” “Lebron isn’t a closer.” “They gave up too much for AD.” “LA will be Kawhi’s city.” The list goes on! But the bottom line again is Lebron has been nothing but great in his 17 years in the NBA and his story isn’t over yet. He’s still going! According to Lebron James, he just wants his darn respect, and I think it’s time we give it to him.
Tyrone Montgomery Jr.