Ok, well things have gotten to the point that they need to be addressed. THIS BLASPHEMOUS, SACRILEGIOUS RHETORIC HAS ABSOLUTELY GOT TO STOP AND SHOULD BE PUNISHABLE BY DEATH. Moving forward, anyone who attempts to argue this point should have their basketball talking privileges revoked from all barbershops, coffee shops, basketball arenas, stadiums, parks, spas, beauty salons at work and even in their own homes.
Now, although I stand with @MarcJSpearsESPN when asked on Sirus XM NBA Radio about the topic simply stated “Well Michael Jordan never lost in the finals, so I don’t know where the conversation starts.” – let’s go ahead and address some of these fallacies before things get even more out of hand.
1 – SCORING – At the end of a basketball game, who is declared the winner? The team with the most points. So yes, scoring is a very important category. Michael’s offensive game was more refined and completely unparalleled. He had an exponentially more complete set of skills which is a big reason WHY he went undefeated in 6 NBA Finals appearances. Michael did more, with less. LeBron James is easily the most gifted basketball player the NBA has ever seen, athletically. He was bigger and stronger than MJ, faster and could dunk harder. But MJ outworked LeBron where it mattered and you can reference free throw percentage, jump shooting, go-to moves, clutch game, post game, and his dubious trick shots. We have yet to see one player match the countless amount of trick-shots that Jordan made on a consistent basis since his departure. Jordan also did all of these things on the biggest stage. In fact, the last BUZZER-BEATING basket we’ve seen in an NBA Finals came 20 years ago by none other than his Airness.
Let’s watch that thing of beauty from another angle on instant replay from the live telecast featuring Marv Albert and Bill Walton. Don’t worry, we got you.
2 – DEFENSE – While LeBron used to guard and shut down opposing teams point guards, this revelation was very very short lived. Maybe a season or two. Michael received 9, count them NINE All-Defensive First Team honors and was awarded the DPOY in 1988 something LeBron never came close to doing.
3 – THE SCOUTING REPORT – Michael has an actual scouting report on LeBron. In this Bleacher Report article, Michael goes on to give us his full assessment.
“”I study him,” he says. When LeBron goes right, he usually drives; when he goes left, he usually shoots a jumper. It has to do with his mechanics and how he loads the ball for release. “So if I have to guard him,” Jordan says, “I’m gonna push him left so nine times out of 10, he’s gonna shoot a jump shot. If he goes right, he’s going to the hole and I can’t stop him. So I ain’t letting him go right.” For the rest of the game, when LeBron gets the ball and starts his move, Jordan will call out some variation of “drive” or “shoot.”
Ya, so if you’re argument began with, “What if MJ had to guard Lebron.” or “MJ would get slaughtered if he had to guard LeBron.”, I think we already know the answer. Michael was ready, and he was too clever and cunning as a defender to ever let the bigger, stronger LeBron get away with some of the things he is able to today.
4 – PASSING – There seems to be a consensus within this debate that LeBron is a better passer than MJ. Same goes for LeBron being the lesser of the two when it comes to scoring, regardless of what side they stand on. Still, you are left with the dufuses (dufusi?) who will point to the fact that LBJ has more points tallied on the all-time list than Jordan. Ya, so does Kobe and Karl Malone, does that make them better too? No, so we are just going to disregard those people totally. They consist mostly of millennials you can find defending Lebron’s honor on social media and more specifically, Instagram – which is where I’ve come to find that more of the millennial LolBron fans tend to hang out (as opposed to Facebook where people seem to be a bit more civilized believe it or not). So my stance on this category? My retort is one word. In fact, it hasn’t even been a word until recently it’s more of an acronym and even at that, I am one of the only people I know that uses it in this way. “LOL”. Yup, that was it. Watch the video below and you can decide who was the better passer.
After watching this you’ll quickly understand that MJ was not only a better passer, but that he only passed less because he was a much MUCH better scorer. He didn’t need to! Why would you pass it when you are the most dangerous player on the court at all times when you have the ball?
5 – POST GAME – I realize the first reason on this list was that MJ’s offensive game as a whole was just spectacularly way more refined than LeBron’s. But that doesn’t mean I can’t break that down further into many important categories. And since I can, I absolutely will. Anyone who watched basketball in the 90’s knows MJ’s skills with his back to the basket were one of the most feared sets in basketball. MJ could do it all and therefore he was able to fit into an offensive system. Phil implemented the triangle. LeBron’s teams are predicated mostly of isolation play, 3 point shooting and pick and rolls. That being said, LeBron’s work ethic, relative to other greats, goes mostly into conditioning his body for longevity, not into fine tuning his offensive deficiencies. I went on the air to discuss this with Ric Bucher during last year’s NBA Finals. What I should have done is continue the recording for you to hear how Ric vehemently agrees with me and exclaims how I brought up a very valid, yet an often overlooked point. In any case, you can still catch the tale end of his commentary on my take below.
6 – FREE THROW SHOOTING – Michael was a career 83.5% free throw shooter. Magic, 84.8%. Larry Bird, 88.6%. Kobe came in at 83.7%. LeBron James? 73.9% and dipping to .673 in the 16-17 season. I’m sorry, but for someone with as high a usage rate that has been given the ability and strength to get to the line as often as he does, you’d think he would have fine tuned this critically monumentous opportunity of taking unguarded attempts at the rim. He hasn’t. And in 2011 when the Heat got embarrassed by The Mavs and apparent defensive specialist and LeBron stopper J.J. Barrea, this proved vital. The first year in Miami after the “Not 5, not 6, not 7, not 8” comments ended up in a big fat L. 😀
7 – LOYALTY – LeBron is going to down as the greatest Merc to ever play the game. LeBron is a Mercenary. He moves around from team to team looking for the easiest opportunity to win him a championship. After things did not work out in Cleveland, he bailed and organized the first player driven Super Team. And now that things are breaking down in Cleveland, he’ll probably blame ownership and be off elsewhere to perhaps the likes of Houston or Philadelphia. People talk about the Celtics of KG, Pierce and Ray Allen, but that was created by management and clearly Danny Ainge’s relationship with Celtic great and ex-teammate Kevin McHale (who was the GM in Minnesota at the time) had a huge effect on the fruition of that deal. With LeBron, for the first time ever, NBA fans witnessed the leagues best player bailing on his team to go play with 2 fellow Olympians. This was a planned Ku de ta, but I didn’t even have a problem with this. This was not my griping point. I thought ‘The Decision’ was kinda corny and thought the fact that he did not let the Cavs organization find out prior to the live telecast was rude, unprofessional and uncalled for. I thought “wow, this guy is a real asshole.”, but i even let that go. What really bugged me was the comments during the Heat Pep Rally. “Not 5, not 6, not 7”. Yup, not even 3 bro. Not while you were in Miami at least.
So here we go, we’re riding along, we’re riding along and after winning his first championship against the then in diapers Oklahoma City squad and then downing the Spurs in dramatic fashion in which we will cover below, the Heat looked as if they got old QUICK. LeBron pouted about the organization’s decision to not resign Mike Miller, their three point specialist who limped in and out of last year’s finals. After one of the most embarrassing performances in an NBA Finals took place during his inaugural season with the Heat when losing to Dallas, Lebron book cased this performance with not one of, but THE most lopsided margin of victory average in an NBA Finals, EVER. The Spurs beat the puss out of LeBron and Wade’s Heat team and coach Gregg Popovich had LeBron’s offensive abilities figured out to the T. James’ reaction to this time of adversity was to do what he does best, which is bail on the Heat and team up with Kyrie Irving and hot new rookie Andrew Wiggins in Cleveland. He leveraged his return to The Land of L’s by engineering a trade for Kevin Love, in which we actually saw the super athletic phenom Wiggins shipped away to Minnesota. We then witnessed Kevin Love endure a ton of harsh criticism shortly before being turned into a spot up shooter – like the rest of LeBron’s all-star teammates. “Just go stand in the corner while I dribble Kevin, but be ready to shoot it when I pass you the ball. You won’t be able to do anything else so just shoot the ball”. – Hypathetical of me imitating LeBron and what he says to his teamates as they are cast into their new roles.
8 – 2011 NBA FINALS MELTDOWN – You won’t have to search to long before you see the commentary regarding this abysmal, grotesque, vomitosious performance. In 2011, after bragging and boasting all off season like a petulant child about the new friends he teamed up with, the Heat began their campaign very sluggish posting close to a .500 record after the first 20 games. Although they got things together, they never got to 60 wins and never really looked like the all-time great behemoth they were built up to be. This all came to a point in the 2011 NBA Finals versus the Dallas Mavericks where LeBron James, self proclaimed king pulled off a disappearing in which the likes of Harry Houdini would have been left a little jealous. To this day, defenders of the honor of LeBron have nothing to say about this performance, they just take their L and point to the longevity of his career.
Even Nick Wright, who I actually enjoy listening to aside from his LeBron being the GOAT narrative, which I personally think he does for ratings and relevancy more than anything admits this is a huge blemish on LeBron’s Legacy. Only Blemish? Check out the next one.
9 – 2014 NBA FINALS MASSACRE – In 2013, the Miami Heat were about to lose their 2nd NBA Championship in 3 years. After defeating the homegrown OKC Thunder the year before and robbing a small market organization of a championship be devising this player built super team – the defending champs were up against it against the Veteran San Antonio Spurs. This was an amazing series to watch. It was truly thrilling as the Spurs brought the ruckus and their highly touted brand of team play and surgical execution to the forefront. It was Game 6 and the yellow tape was being wrapped around the outside of the court prepping the Spurs coronation on LeBron’s home floor. You already know what happened, but what I’m about to detail will remain one of the most unsolved, unknown, unbenounced things to have ever have taken place. Like, why did this happen, why did this ever EVER go down? As the Heat were about to lose and LeBron took it upon himself to tie the game, he of course MISSED the shot. Popovich took Tim Duncan OUT of the game for reasons unbenounced to me and the Spurs were left vulnerable on the glass. The ball landed in Chris Bosh’s hands who flipped it to Ray Allen who at the time, was still THE GREATEST SHOOTER THAT EVER LIVED. Yes, Ray Allen was on this team. He in fact came off the bench and the Heat could still barely get it down. Let’s relive this classically insane moment below. Props to Ray-Ray on pretty much the biggest shot in NBA history.
Still gives me the chills. WHY, OH WHY THOUGH! Why did this have to go down?! I guess we were all better off. It was an amazing shot and an amazing series. The local fans in Miami could not be more annoying and more bandwagonish and I wanted nothing more than to see them fail. Well, I didn’t have to wait long as the following year the Spurs not only got their revenge lol, they absolutely annhilated the Heat in 5 games in which we WITNESSED LeBron actually quit on his team just as he did during his last game in his first tenure with the Cavs.
The Spurs beat the piss out of the Heat and that was the last time we ever saw LeBron James in Miami Heat jersey. PEACE OUT BRUH!
10 – THE GS WARRIORS RIVALRY – In 2014, we were introduced to the birth of the Splash Brothers as the Warriors won 50 games for the first time since the 93-94 season. In 2015 this young duo had officially arrived netting 67 wins as first year coach Steve Kerr was brought in to take the reigns from Mark Jackson. His job was to coach these young pups into maturation. Their first test happened to be Mr. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately, we saw Kevin Love go out with a shoulder injury in the first round of the playoffs as then Kelly Olynik maliciously pulled his arm out of its socket while battling for a rebound. We then saw Kryie go down with a knee at the end of game 1 in what was shaping up to be an all-time great series. I’ll admit, this was pretty much unfair to LeBron. Undermanned, they muddied up the game and slowed the pace down to something more reminiscent of Mike Fratello’s Cleveland Cavaliers, not David Blatt’s. They really had no choice and this style led to a slightly surprising 2-1 Cavaliers lead. Eventually, Cleveland’s injuries caught up with them and I’m not saying LeBron should have won this series, I’m just saying if you watch the games he missed a lot of shots that would have given him the opportunity to do so! The young Warriors went on to win in the series in 6.
The next year, the Warriors came back on a mission to defend their crown. They faced some criticism of not only their path to the finals, but also the fact that they faced a wounded animal when they got there. In order to silence their critics, Golden State maintained laser focus through out the season on a march to an NBA record 73 wins. This blessing may have ended up being their kryptonite in some ways. In only the first round of the playoffs, MVP Steph Curry slipped on a wet spot left by Houston Rockets center Donatas Motiejūnas and badly injured his right knee. Out for a bit of the playoffs, Curry came back in the next round and dazzled us setting an NBA record for points in an overtime but that was probably off of pure adrenaline alone.
By the time the Warriors got to the finals though, the injury began to wear on Steph and he did not look anywhere near as spry as he did in the video above. Feel free to reference @BBallBreakdown’s anaylzatioon of how Curry’s lateral movement, agility and quickness suffered in the 2016 NBA Finals here. With that being said, the Warriors were STILL going to take the Cavs out but lady luck was back again for Mr. James except this time around she worked even harder. Not only was Steph hobbled, which made Cleveland’s physical style of play against him even more effective. Remember, he was coming off a war versus the OKC Thunder series. Draymond Green’s cumulative technical’s total was at its threshold. LeBron knew this and once he saw he was to be ousted in the Finals yet again, he took to drastic, cunniving, clever yet desperate measures.
So this was it. The Cavs were dead and heading to ORACLE for game 5 down 3-1. Without the heart and soul of their defense, this time around a fully loaded Cavs team took advantage. Not only this, in the 2nd quarter, rim protector Andrew Bogut who earlier in the series registered an NBA record 6 blocks in 1 quarter went down with a knee injury as JR Smith clipped him on the way to the basket. It was now the Warriors who were the wounded animal. Shortly after, Andre Iguodala who has been LeBron’s worst nightmare most times they have faced off in the finals basically threw out his back. The Warriors lost games 5 AND game 6 in Cleveland, so the series came back for a final game in Oakland. This was a down right gritty game, an all-time best. Andre was resurrected back to some sort of function and Draymond was back and the Warriors had to do all that they could to avoid an embarrassing loss after leading the series 3 games to 1. Unfortunately, through it all, we witnessed Lebron’s block, Steph’s behind the back pass that went out of bounds and then ultimately Kryie’s shot, which just like Ray’s pretty much saved LeBron’s legacy. Can you imagine if he lost both those finals? Can you just imagine what having a 1-7 finals record would be like for him? LOL. It didn’t happen but it’s fun to think about it.
Ok, so I am recapping a few years in NBA time here, I get it – but these are all valid points that need to be brought up when talking about someones claim of the throne for the GREATEST OF ALL TIME. And this has us almost fully caught up, but wait, this is one of my favorite moments. After Cleveland took the crown from Golden State, things were shaken up in the off-season and the Warriors responded by letting go of Harrison Barnes who did close to nothing in the wake of a huge opportunity he was presented in last years finals. Barnes was out and Kevin Durant came in, in one of biggest and most unprecedented signings in NBA History. The way I see it, Kevin was coming back for blood as it was the culmination of LeBron’s first Superteam that robbed Kevin, Westbrook and Harden of a title in OKC.
Trailing all game, Golden State didn’t really get a lead until it mattered most. Down 2-0, Cleveland desperately needed this game, but they could not bottle up the Warriors. As in most games on the road during an NBA Finals, your goal is to keep it close and hang around til the end, neutralizing crowd noise and the teams runs throughout until crunch time where you can rely on execution to escape with a win. The first two games of the series were not close. This one was, but Kevin Durant made sure the Warriors would make quick work of the James and the Cavaliers. Cleveland went on to lose the series 4-1 in what was almost as noncompetitive as the Spurs shellacking in 2014. Bronsexuals will say he averaged a triple double but that will take me to my next and final point. (NICE SEGWAY REZ!!!).
11 – CLUTCH GENE – Wait so before I go into ‘Stat Padding’, I want to talk a little bit about something critically important known as the clutch gene. Now I know LeBron’s hit his fair share of game winners, I am not saying he hasn’t come through at all. What I want focus on is the fact that he still has the ability to wilt with the game on the line. To shrink in the games most defining moments. Although LeBron hit the shot that kept the Heat in the ball game against the Spurs setting up Ray Allen’s game tying, season saving three pointer, he also was the one who missed allowing Bosh to rebound the basketball and pass it to Allen for the game winner. And no that does not count as a hockey assist. Moving forward, it was Kryie who bailed the Cavaliers out in game 7 of the finals at Oracle, not Lebron. Yes, Lebron hit a 3 when Festus Ezili was guarding him in the 4th – a move I still question coach Kerr about to this day – and yes, he had the sensational block from behind on the gimpy Andre Iguodala that set up the Kyrie play. But if we are talking OFFENSIVE SKILLS here and CLUTCH GENE. Where was Bron either setting up or assisting on either of those plays? For my final point I’d like to continue to talk about game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals. The Kyle Korver play. With about a minute remaining the Cavs were still up 2, KD was yet to hit his 3pt dagger and Lebron was being guarded by Draymond Green who had 5 fouls. Let’s see what happened.
That’s what you came up with? Is that how a GOAT forces the issue and brings his team back into a series vs the buzzsaw monstrosity that are the Golden State Warriors? With 8 to shoot LeBron went left and never really threatened Green by attacking the basket at anytime. Regardless that Draymond had 5 fouls, LeBron knew that getting fouled would mean going to the free throw line and that moment under the microsope might have been too big for him with all those lights. He defers and passes to Korver who has Steph closing him out pretty well by the time he gets the ball. This is now known as the infamous “right basketball play” excuse. Passing it to a not so playoff tested and not really that open Kyle Korver in the corner did not prove to be very cumbersome of LeBron and his Legacy.
Lebron then goes on stage during the press conference and tells people he doesn’t care about the critics. You don’t care? So don’t say you’re chasing the goat if you don’t care.
So after LeBron just got drilled in his eye with the shot by KD, there was still a chance for redemption. The Cavs still could have won the game! Do you remember what happened? I do. LeBron lost the ball! Andre slapped it out of his hands and the ball went out of bounds! And oh yea, Kyle Korver, the guy who LeBron looked to so desperately the prior possession… now down 3 … was OUT.OF.THE.GAME. 😀
12 – STAT PADDING – Well, here we are the completion of my argument. It’s all come to a culmination and Yes, I said it, “Stat Padding”. One of the things I like least about LeBron’s game is the fact that until recently his post game was HORRIBLE. Even now, although more admissible, it’s nowhere near where Michael or Kobe’s used to be. Another, is the fact that you rarely if ever see him move without the ball, come off a screen and drill a jump shot. LeBron needs to have the ball in his hands. Like, ALL THE TIME (Jesse Pinkman voice). Since his game is predicated on having the ball this stagnates the offense and puts players – even other superstars – more strictly into the roles designated to them by their so-called king. People are harped on the fact that LeBron plays the right way and gush about his basketball IQ and while he does a lot of things well, I see some other things going on. I see a guy who puts his teammates in straight jackets a lot of the times. Everyone is always changing their style of play to LeBron’s because he can’t change his. When he tried, he disapearred against the Mavs. I feel like the guy invented the selfish assist. Whoever knew there could be such a thing?!? Now LeBron is a smart guy and he’s always thinking ahead because it has been established that his main goal has been to own a basketball team. This has been no secret. Knowing this way prior to any potential acquisition, LeBron has been positioning himself to do so. Yes, that means every single move since ‘The Decision’ Has been calculated. It’s the reason he left Cleveland and its also the reason he returned. Did you see how much of an afterthought LeBron became once Steph became the reigning 2-time and then the first ever unanimous MVP? Steph took the league by such storm that he quickly became the face of it. LeBron couldn’t deal with that as his worth and overall buzz were rapidly diminishing. Lucky for him they were somehow able to pull out that 2016 series, in which a number of things had to go wrong for the Warriors and did. Now LeBron also watches TV and knows how big of a stink the media makes over numbers and all-time achievements. Just look at how much they talked about the fact that he averaged a triple-double while losing in the finals. He sees that doing this can deflect some of the blame and take some weight off of his 5 finals loses. He knows that everything he accomplishes counts as another tick mark on his resume and will be used in his favor once his career is over and he’s compared against the rest of the greats. Knowing THIS, he has realized the amount of clout it holds and is now focusing on putting up the best numbers possible, as opposed to conserving his minutes for a playoff run. Are you looking at these box scores these days? 40 minutes, 41 minutes. Sheesh. Y’all are still the 4th or even 5th seed. SMH.
13 – COACH KILLER – Mike Brown, Erik Spoelstra, David Blatt and now Tyronne Lue. Now I’ll be fair. I know Magic got then Lakers coach Paul Westhead fired shortly after his rookie season in LA – and took a lot of flack for it. I’m not saying stars haven’t done this before. But LeBron has taken it to another level. He got Mike Brown canned in Cleveland. He reportedly demanded the ousting of coach Spoelstra in Miami but was rebuffed by Godfather Pat Riley. David Blatt bit the bullet while going 30-11 because they felt he “didn’t have it for the big games”. Let’s face it, LeBron just didn’t like him and he then hand picked Tyronne Lue who apparently ‘had the respect of the players’. Until now of course. In 2018, you have JR Smith tossing soup at assistant coaches and LeBron berating those same assistants and now even Tyronne Lue himself on the sidelines. Oh yes, and who can’t ever recall the infamous lambasting incident that was probably what landed Kyrie Irving in Boston this summer. Also, try this. If you go to Youtube and search for “LeBron yells at” watch the list of names returned by the drop down list, LMAO. Anyway, if you don’t know what I am referring to, please watch 🙂
Well that just about sums it up. As always, feel free to tweet me @TheRezNation or email me directly [email protected] – although I prefer our argument takes place on a public forum. You can also comment on the built in facebook wall below. I didn’t download the plug-in for nothing. Use it – it works.