LeBron James Vs Michael Jordan

According to Harris, the first step in the “GOAT: MJ or LeBron?” argument is to establish a definition of what constitutes ‘greatest’ and the criteria used to determine greatness. The goal is to create an objective statistical measure to compare two players who have never faced each other head-to-head. Factors such as scoring, true shooting percentage and free throw shooting percentage are examples of analytical metrics that can back an argument. Defensive metrics may not be the easiest to assess because plays like assists, blocked shots and steals can be the product of other variables on the court like man-to-man defense or passing lanes and certain plays don’t show up in box scores.

“I think if you’re making an argument for the greatest player, it has to be one that values both offense and defense because you have to be able to play successfully on both ends of the court and that’s one of the things that makes Jordan and James stand out above any others,” Harris says. “It’s that they’re incredibly superb players on defense as well as on offense. It’s not just a measure of their offensive statistics but also their defensive abilities.” Because basketball is not a one-on-one game but a team sport, so subjective variables seep their way into the argument, especially when it comes to the discussion of championship titles. Jordan is sometimes deemed more of a “winner” because he made it to the NBA Finals on six occasions and won each time. Whereas, James has reached nine NBA Finals and has three titles to show for it. It took Michael Jordan four years to get past the Detroit Pistons and he left to play baseball from 1993 to 1994. The Bulls only won 55 games during the ‘93-94 season. Similarly, when James left Cleveland and Miami, those teams had losing records afterward. For argument’s sake, it may be best to shelve the GOAT debate until James’ career is over. Jordan’s career and body of work speaks for itself. Nothing new is being added. However, the case for James can change from year-to-year and this year’s NBA playoffs certainly made a major impact in valuing James higher because the world assesses players based on expectations. James was not expected to make it to this year’s NBA Finals with a supporting cast that relied on Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson. James’ case took a hit when he left for Miami and it could take another hit if he elects to leave during free agency for a place like Houston or Philadelphia—teams that are close to winning and in need of one key piece.