LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan: Why the Debate Misses the Point

Feb 14, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) handles the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second half at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports
Tom GuthrieContributor IIIFebruary 15, 2013

LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan: Who's your pick? 

It's a tantalizing question, and it makes for a hell of a discussion. Ultimately, however, we're all missing the point by dwelling on it. 

The bottom line is this: Michael Jordan was a unique, revolutionary player who left an indelible mark on the NBA and well beyond. The glory of his accomplishments is everlasting.

LeBron James, it's safe to say, is comparable to Jordan in terms of sheer dominance of the game. He is a uniquely gifted athlete who continues to astonish us. 

You could debate which player is "better" all day. The question itself is, of course, highly subjective. Is it about championships won? Points scored? Shooting percentage? 

Before we venture too far into the woods, let's step back and admire the scenery.

Too often in sports (and American society in general), we feel a need to rank and expand scope.

When a team wins a championship, we must compare it to other teams. If a team wins multiple championships, we bring up the word "dynasty" almost reflexively.

And when a great NBA player goes on an amazing streak, we have to ask: Is he as good as Jordan?

Let's just appreciate LeBron James for what he is. As he said himself, he's not Michael Jordan. As obvious as those words may seem, it's a very important reminder.

It's very hard not to take present circumstances for granted. But let's stop for a moment and appreciate our position. We're witnessing something truly special. We're seeing a player continually amaze us each night. In a world drenched in technology and saturated with stimulation, that's an extremely rare occurrence.

Who knows? Maybe 15 years from now, we'll say LeBron James is the best basketball player of all time. Maybe we won't.

Regardless, let's put that uncertainty aside and focus on what we know for sure: LeBron James is a special player doing special things. Nothing lasts forever. 

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