As LeBron James approaches his seventh straight NBA Finals appearance, he is getting a lot of comparisons to the “Greatest of all-time (G.O.A.T.),” Michael Jordan.
I’m here to say he has already surpassed Jordan. I’m sorry Chicago fans, but it’s true.
The biggest argument against LeBron being the G.O.A.T. is that Jordan has six championship rings compared to LeBron’s three. But using rings as the only argument confuses actual talent with accomplishments.
Jordan was surrounded by talent by his fourth year in Chicago. If LeBron had played with Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant in his first stint in Cleveland then we might be talking about his 10th straight finals appearance instead of his seventh.
People criticize LeBron all the time for going to Miami in 2010 to chase a ring, but the best player on his roster in Cleveland during that time was Daniel “Boobie” Gibson. Would Jordan have won six rings if his supporting cast included Boobie Gibson, who averaged 7.8 points per game in his career?
LeBron is also playing at a time when any athlete is under a microscope — and as one of the best athletes in the world, his microscope is a pretty big one.
LeBron has been scrutinized and nitpicked since he was in high school. One of the biggest criticisms he’s endured since then is his announcement that he was switching teams on a nationally televised event — an event where he also raised $2.5 million for the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, Connecticut.
LeBron has gone 14 years in the NBA with just one major criticism. Jordan played in the 90s and still drew criticism. That judgement would be magnified under today’s social media landscape.
Would Jordan have survived in today’s era? Would he have lasted when every move he made was on Twitter the second he made it? When Stephen A. Smith is ranting about every performance?
Jordan was already known for being a partier and a gambler. Now, if he was out at the clubs the night before a big game, everyone in the world would know. Would the famed “flu game” have actually been know as the game he was out too late and hungover? Would his gambling problem have been analyzed by ESPN talking heads?
I don’t know if Jordan would have survived in the social media age. But I do know that LeBron doesn’t have the character problems Jordan was known to have. He’s a better teammate, averaging over two more assists per game than Jordan did. He’s also a better community member, LeBron recently receiving the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
LeBron hasn’t been caught out drinking late once while on his way to finishing number one all-time in almost every major statistical category.
So while LeBron only has three rings — for now — he is already the greatest basketball player of all time.