NBA

How LeBron James Might Close the GOAT Gap With Michael Jordan This Season

LeBron James is being compared to Michael Jordan again, but there may be merit this time. The Los Angeles Lakers are off to a hot start. While a pair of recent losses make the prospects of a 72-win season tougher, it’s not out of the picture.

If James can do it, he could have a case against Jordan in some people’s eyes. With every new record or accolade, James forges his path to becoming the new greatest of all time.

LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan 

Since middle school, James has made international headlines with his dominant play. While the hype train does embark on dangerous journies from time to time, James shows he was worth it all.

This doesn’t necessarily mean he is worthy of all the Jordan comparisons, nor does it mean these associations matter for either of their legacies. For the sake of argument, however, it is an interesting case to make. 

James and Jordan have different versions of a similar game. While many superstars rely most on scoring, both had an arsenal of weapons outside of their scoring ability. This is a point in Jordan’s favor, as he did this while being the greatest career scorer per game. (Some fans could say James beats Jordan in terms of his skills at playmaking and rebounding.)

Both players could be top-notch defenders, but Jordan likely beats James when it comes to overall defensive output. Often overshadowed by high-flying dunks and heroic offensive performances, Jordan was arguably the best defender at his position; he’d often guard the best player on other teams. 

Jordan won all six NBA Finals matchups he participated in. He won more MVPs and did all of this with one team. James has his own set of feats that make it harder to compare. But beating the 72-win mark could help his case.

Michael Jordan’s 72 wins

While the 1996 Bulls have been dethroned as the winningest team in history by the Golden State Warriors, that Chicago team is still considered the best of all time to many. 

If James surpassed the 72-win mark this season, it would make the GOAT argument more interesting. He most assuredly would have to win another ring as well, but he would have a fingerprint on both teams to match or surpass the Bulls. After all, his Cavaliers team dethroned the Warriors in the finals.

Although 72 wins are impressive, like everything, context is key. We’ll never know how Jordan and those Bulls would’ve fared in today’s NBA. We also don’t know how James’ Lakers would have done back then.

Good things come in threes for LeBron James

The fact of the matter is that the Jordan-versus-James debate is likely settled for most people. Those who are purely on Team Jordan won’t give James the credit he deserves and vice-versa. Jordan winning all of his rings with one team is impressive, but he stopped being a single-team player when he returned to the Wizards. 

James, on the other hand, is on his third NBA franchise. If he wins another championship, he will have brought rings to all three of his teams. This shows that he could win in multiple systems under a variety of circumstances. His longevity of greatness cannot go unignored. 

At the end of the day, arguing about the GOAT of basketball is a fun argument. On paper, Jordan is the obvious choice, but those who have seen James do his thing disagree. Until James shows serious regression, the argument will become more interesting by the day.