Michael Jordan is without a doubt the greatest basketball player of all-time. Few people will ever debate that.
Who comes next is pure debate. Is it the great Magic Johnson? Kobe Bryant, or how about the man who has been considered the modern MJ, LeBron James? Both he and Jordan have shown pure dominance throughout the NBA, that no other players in history have been able to produce.
Of course, it will be hard for The King to reach MJ heights unless he can somehow win four more NBA Championships, but history and his age (31) tell us that’s a task that’s taller than LeBron (6 foot 8,) himself.
But the point of debating who the best basketball player ever is becomes ludicrous. Can’t we fans just sit back and enjoy the greatness Jordan gave fans of the ’90s, and what LeBron has given us for more than a decade now?
Both men are very similar in so many ways: Not just because they’re multiple-time NBA Champions who took the sport and NBA industry to new heights. Michael Jordan and LeBron James are much more similar than you think.
Here, we will examine and compare their lives (off the court) and how their careers have gone, and boy, are they ever ridiculously similar. James still has time to have his career resemble in twin-like fashion, but it’s going to take a lot of work.
And now, it’s time for us to do a legend-to-legend comparison about the lives of possibly the two greatest NBA players of all-time.
15. Overcoming Adversity Off the Court
Both LeBron and MJ have grown into role models for millions of fans across the country. Not just because of basketball domination, but also because they’ve been able to overcome some of the worst tragedies imaginable.
Jordan’s father, James Sr., took a nap off of a North Carolina highway in his car, only for two thieves to shoot him to death while he slept, and stole the car before they were rightfully caught and sentenced to prison.
LeBron, on the other hand, was raised by a single mother in a barely livable house with very little money. James also hasn’t met his biological father.
The fact that both men have been able to get through such hardships is really inspiring to their magnificent careers.
14. All-Star Selections
Jordan’s number of All-Star selections would have been much higher, without a doubt, if he didn’t retire at any point of his career. Alas, no one is going to criticize him for “failing” to go beyond 14 All-Star selections.
James, on the other hand, has been named to his 12th All-Star Game, and will no doubt build upon that. When all is said and done, he should comfortably be past 14 selections for the big one.
But man, for the time being, 26 All-Star Games between the two of them? Wow.
13. MVP Glory
It feels like LeBron wins the MVP every year, and it’s hard to believe how Jordan didn’t win it every season he spent with the Chicago Bulls.
Still, the two men once again share a similar number in winning the same title. Jordan won the NBA MVP five times, while LeBron has won it four times. Interestingly enough, James didn’t win his first one until 2009.
There shouldn’t be much doubt, however, that James will add at least another MVP trophy to his collection, matching Jordan’s five.
12. Number of Seasons Played
Michael Jordan managed to play 15 seasons in his NBA career. As I said earlier, it would have been way more if he didn’t retire at any point.
James, on the other hand, is in the middle of his 13th season, playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
No doubt James will be playing for several more years, but by the time he’s done, him and MJ will have played a very similar amount of seasons.
11. Consistency in Games
These two men have a very scary similarity in many stats, and points per game is incredible given how they’re playing in completely different eras.
Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game during his tenures with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards throughout his career, and that was playing with a loaded amount of Hall of Famers.
James, on the other hand, has seen major turnovers in Cleveland and was loaded with stars in Miami. He’s managed to put up 27.2 points per game throughout his career.
He still has time to catch up to Jordan. Unlikely, but possible. Even if the numbers don’t change, the two players had very similar career points per game numbers.
10. Field Goal Percentage
Once again, another ridiculously incredible similarity between the stats both men have had in their careers.
James’ field goal percentage throughout his career, as of this writing, is .496. Jordan, on the other hand…
Is a ridiculous .497. That’s right, he’s “that” much better than James in field goal percentage shooting. Honestly, how much more in similarity can the two men get?
9. Beginner’s Luck
Even though each NBA player is only qualified to win the award once, both men managed to take home Rookie of the Year honors in their respective careers.
Jordan took home the award in 1985 while James took it home in 2004. Both men would enter the league with their feet on fire as fans and players alike were placed on notice: These guys came to play and play better than anybody else.
Much deserved Awards.
8. Fixing a Franchise
James came straight out of high school and was the first overall pick in the 2003 draft. The Cavaliers became an elite team under his watch. Jordan was selected third overall out of North Carolina (by the Bulls) in 1984.
MJ brought six NBA Championships to a perennially-struggling Bulls team. James has brought the Cavs to a couple of NBA Finals trips, but there isn’t much doubt in my mind he’ll lead them to a title soon.
But both men were able to bring their respective franchises to brand new heights once they were drafted.
7. Lucky 23
Altough James wore number 6 for portions of his career, the number 23 has become his number with the Cavaliers.
Jordan also donned the legendary number 23 for his career, but also wore the numbers 45 and 9. Now I’m not trying to become that mind-blown guy, but how cool is it that both guys donned the same number at some point in their careers, even though there are numbers from 00-99?
6. Blocks Per Game
It’s easy to overlook how dominant both players have been defensively, given how they’re used to clutch buzzer-beaters and scoring close to 30 points per game.
But both men strike exactly the same stat when it comes to blocks per game: They average 0.8 per match.
This is probably a surprising fact to any casual fan who may only view Jordan and James as offensive powerh
5. Gold Rush X2
Both players also (unsurprisingly), dominated in the Olympics. James led the United States to Olympic Gold Medals in 2008 and 2012, and should surpass Jordan with three this year.
Jordan, on the other hand, won the Olympic Gold twice as well, winning it in 1984 and 1992.
Both James and Jordan have played on a worldwide stage with general ease which is no easy task for even the most seasoned athlete.
4. Career Points
Jordan is well-ahead of LeBron with 32,292 career points, but LeBron should be able to get much closer to that by the time he’s done.
James is now 31 years old. It’s impossible to know if he’ll decline next year, two years, five years, or even manage to play until he’s 40.
In reality, he probably has three years left (after this season,) of playing near an MVP level. Assuming that’s the case, he can get much closer to Jordan, as The King has 25, 964 career points.
He had 2,036 in 2012-13, 2,089 in 2013-14, 1,743 last year, and over 1,000 on the current season.
Assuming he can maintain these numbers, James should come VERY close to getting past Jordan in career points. But it won’t be by much.
3. Going Hollywood
Hey, not every superstar athlete has an awesome cameo in an epic money-making movie, but of course the two best basketball players of their respective generations do.
Jordan started in every 90’s kid’s favorite basketball movie, Space Jam where he played himself (For my friends who were born in the 2000’s, please go ahead and watch the movie.)
James made an appearance in the 2015 comedy film, Trainwreck which starred Amy Schumer and Bill Hader. Needless to say, both movies totalled nine-figure dollars in revenue.
2. Owning More Than NBA Teams
James practically owns almost any opponent he faces on the court, and Jordan did the exact same in his career.
Both men also, in a literal sense, do own another sports team. Jordan owns the Charlotte Bobcats, who famously don’t win the way Jordan did as a player with the Bulls throughout his career.
James, on the other hand, has a minority stake of Liverpool FC, one of the most luxurious and most loved soccer teams on the planet.
1. Just About Everything
Both men underwent long, difficult journeys to lead struggling teams into long-term championship contenders. Both have won multiple MVPS, championships, and are in the discussion of the greatest NBA player to ever live.
Both men played for multiple teams. Both players elevated their teammates to reach unforeseen superstardom. Both men have become ridiculously wealthy in movies, sports ownership, and endorsements.
Both men are heroes to the NBA industry. Their statistics are so neck-and-neck, and there’s a chance LeBron matches MJ in career MVPS and comes very close to the amount of titles Jordan won.
Either way, we’re incredibly lucky to have both men in the sport’s history books.
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