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Scottie Could Be Right, LeBron May Be The Best

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"Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to play the game, but I may go as far as to say LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game because he is so potent offensively that not only can he score at will but he keeps everybody involved."

With that one comment former Chicago Bull Scottie Pippen caused such a furore you would have thought he declared war on Barack Obama. Actually, this was probably worse in the eyes of the public. Scottie was seen to have disrespected his former teammate and the closest thing to American royalty, His Airness. How could he do such a thing? Immediately he was called everything from insane to treasonous by members of the media. I, for one, cannot see anything wrong with his statement.

Pippen said James "may" become the greatest of all-time. He didn't say it would certainly happen. All this got me thinking, would the same fuss have been stirred up had Scottie Pippen said Kobe Bryant could be better than Michael Jordan? Or is it just the fact that he mentioned LeBron's name? Also, how are we judging the greatest of all time, ie what is the criteria? I've heard many arguments stating James can't be the greatest because he doesn't have six rings. No he doesn't, but if the argument is decided on championships then Bill Russell is the G.O.A.T.

The only thing wrong here in my opinion is the comparison of James now to Jordan's career. In case anyone forgot he's only 26. He probably still has another 10 years in the League. Let's leave comparing the stats until both are done. Michael at age 26 had not won a ring yet either.  You never know, when James finally retires Scottie may be proved correct. After all, and I don't think many people dispute this, LeBron does have all the physical gifts to become the best.

The reality is that eventually someone will come along that will be better than MJ and there is no reason why James can't be the Chosen One (excuse the pun). He already has a better all-round game than Jordan and now with an All-Star cast around him is guaranteed to at least be competing for rings over the next few years. He does need to win at least one before this discussion turns legitimate though.  Statistically both are similar at this point of their careers.

LeBron vs. MJ (cumulative per-game stats thru age-26)

Player Min FGA FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Pts USG PER
Regular LeBron 40.1 20.6 47.9 32.9 74.4 7.1 7.0 3.3 27.7 31.8 26.9
Regular Jordan 39.0 23.4 51.6 28.2 84.8 6.3 6.0 3.3 32.8 33.8 29.9
Player Min FGA FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Pts USG PER
Playoffs LeBron 43.6 20.8 45.9 32.3 74.9 8.5 7.0 3.6 28.7 32.1 27.0
Playoffs Jordan 42.5 25.1 50.5 30.4 83.3 6.9 6.7 3.8 35.8 35.5 29.6

Ultimately what people are comparing is Jordan's legend to James potential ceiling. The sky is the limit for James and that is what got Scottie excited, Pippen was criticised for turning on the man who helped the Bulls win 6 titles but perhaps he was just stating the truth as he sees it. As we sit here today Michael Jordan is still the greatest basketball player of all time but by the time LeBron James is done he may very well have surpassed him.


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