Why The LeBron/Jordan Debate Needs To Stop – Respect Greatness When You See It
Anyone who knows me well will tell you I am a part of the infamous “LeBron Groupie Fan Club.” The people who drool over LeBron and think everything he does is nothing short of amazing? The guy that can walk on water? Yes, that’s me, and I have no problem admitting that.
15 years ago, I was in 4th grade and just starting to understand sports while watching it. Growing up in a football family, the first Bears team I can remember watching was in 2003. “Sexy Rexy” Grossman, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, Marty Booker, to name a few. At the age of 9, I was becoming obsessed with watching sports, playing sports, pretending to be players I saw on TV in the driveway and in the yard, everything sports. Tony Romo was my favorite player as a kid. A Burlington, WI native playing the same position I played as a kid. I wanted to be Romo because I felt I could relate to him more. If he’s from a small Wisconsin town and can play in the NFL, why can’t I? So, what did I do? I wore the same number as him and tried to emulate his style of play. Just like kids from a generation before me. Who did every young basketball player want to be like as a kid? Easy…Michael Jordan. Everyone wanted #23, they wore a calf sleeve, bought his shoes, tried to copy his stepback in Game 6 vs. the Jazz over Byron Russell. Everyone wanted to “Be Like Mike.” Enter LeBron James in 2003. My 9 year old self not knowing hardly anything about the NBA other than what my Grandpa and Dad told me. Never watched a game with full attention, didn’t own a jersey, nothing. Then this 18 year old kid gets drafted and all of a sudden, my interest gets sparked. I watch LeBron on TV, I get his shoes, I get his jersey, I practice like him in the driveway. I become obsessed with watching LeBron James play basketball. You’re reading this thinking, “okay Jake, what’s your point?” My point is, there will never be another Michael Jordan and there will never be another LeBron James. These two players are without question the best players of their respective generations. So, stop trying to compare.
If you walk up to myself and my Dad, and you ask us “Who’s the best player of all-time?” He’s going to say Jordan and I’m going to say LeBron. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Both of us are wrong! Robert Horry has 7 rings. Bill Russell won 11 rings in 13 years. Hands down the best basketball player of all-time, right? But neither of us can look someone in the face and say “Bill Russell is the greatest of all-time.” Neither of us watched him play. I don’t feel right going up to someone and saying “Bill Russell is the GOAT.” Is he? Maybe? But how am I supposed to know that? All I see are numbers associated with his name. But he played in a different generation than Jordan and LeBron.
Bill Russell: GREAT. Michael Jordan: GREAT. LeBron James: GREAT. All of which played during a different time and in a different generation of basketball. I’ve only ever watched LeBron. So, to me, yes, he is the greatest of all time in my lifetime. I never watched Jordan. (that I can remember) But I know there will never be another one. I’ve seen LeBron. There will never be another one. This argument over who’s better will never end and I’m getting sick of it. I can watch all the YouTube videos of Jordan I want, but it’s not the same as watching him in person. When do you ever watch “lowlights” of Jordan on YouTube? You don’t. All you see are his greatest moments. UNLESS YOU WATCHED HIM IN PERSON. Jordan missed game winners too. Jordan had off games too. But, you won’t find them on YouTube. In today’s world you can watch LeBron on TV and see him fail. Or see him score 15 in Game 1 of the 2018 ECF. Makes it easy to hate on LBJ, or say he isn’t “great.”
In conclusion, (because I could go on all day about how much this argument frustrates me) whether you like or dislike LeBron, please understand that you are currently “witnessing” (pun intended for all my fellow LeBron fans) one of the greatest players to ever step foot on a basketball court. Stop sitting around watching LeBron and saying “he will never be Jordan” and “Jordan is the GOAT,” or “LeBron will never win 6 rings,” “LeBron isn’t clutch.” It doesn’t matter. Of course LeBron will never be Jordan. There is no winning argument for “THE GOAT.” There isn’t one. Flip it around. Could Jordan ever be LeBron? No. They’re different players. Jordan did things LeBron can’t, and LeBron does things Jordan couldn’t. LeBron is GREAT…understand that. Watch him and respect that. Take it all in. Just like our parents grandparents before us did with Jordan or Russell. Stop arguing over something you can never win. This argument will go on forever.
LeBron Lover, or LeBron Hater….do me a favor – you will never get the chance to watch someone like LeBron James play basketball ever again. Enjoy it while he’s still here.