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Why Michael Jordan Comparisons are not Valid

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[Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images]

The NBA season is just around the corner, and Michael Jordan comparisons are about to be in full force.

Sports fans, writers and reporters alike love to compare today’s stars, particularly Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, to MJ. While it makes sense that one would have the urge to do so, the question at hand makes absolutely no sense. You can’t say that Kobe or LeBron is better than Jordan, or that Jordan is better than Kobe or LeBron. Here’s why:

There are 3 primary arguments.

1. Number of Championships

2. Stats

3. Biased Opinions 

The first reason is probably the most talked about. Your Airness had an impressive 6 championships under his belt by the time he retired, while Kobe Bryant and LeBron James currently have 5 and 2, respectively. Those numbers say that Michael is better.

The fact that gets forgotten is that basketball is a team sport.

While Jordan, Kobe, and LeBron certainly played the biggest roles on their teams for each of their championships, there were 4 other players on the court with each of them that made some sort of attributions. With that being said, the number of championships can’t be a determining factor on who was a better player. If that’s the case, Robert Horry was better than all three of them.

Stats are another factor that many people use when trying to compare MJ and the other greats. While stats do a better job of showing skill-level than the number of championships, they still can’t be a determining factor. The fact is that all three players reached their prime in totally different times. MJ was great in the ’90s, Kobe reached his in the 2000s, and LeBron is hitting his right now. What’s this have to do with anything?

MJ played with and against a totally different set of players than did Kobe or LeBron, and their stats are certainly going to reflect that. While MJ certainly played alongside great players, many would argue that the average NBA player nowadays is at a higher skill level than back then. You can really only compare stats from players of the same era when determining who is better, and Kobe and LeBron didn’t play in the same era as Jordan.

Finally, we come to people’s opinions, which aren’t really based on hard solid facts.

A. Michael Jordan was the biggest franchise in sports history, and that his commercial and pop culture presence alone might be the reason why they call him the greatest of all time. Sure Kobe and LeBron both have huge fan bases, endorsement deals, and so and so forth, but not quite to the extent that Michael Jordan did. However, a highly marketable business based around an NBA star doesn’t necessary equate to higher basketball talent than the other two, which can often be forgotten.

B. For those who grew up watching Michael, they are going to be more inclined to say that he is better than Kobe or LeBron, while people who grew up watching Kobe or LeBron might say otherwise.

In short, it’s impossible to determine who was the greatest basketball player of all time. If there is a way, nobody has found it yet, because these popular arguments debaters have used in the past to prove their point don’t take the whole picture into consideration.

Do you agree/disagree?

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