The comparisons are becoming more intense and plausible now. For some, there is no longer any separation between Michael Jordan and LeBron James in the argument as to which of the two is the greatest basketball player of all time.
Of course, the debate is subjective. Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar all must be in the discussion. However, after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 4-0 sweep over the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference finals, culminating with a 118-88 stomping in Game 4 Tuesday night in Cleveland, James is playing at as high a level as anyone in the history of the sport.
He is the most unique basketball blend of skill, size, speed, quickness, power, strength, superior hand-eye coordination, will and intelligence that the good Lord created. Perhaps he’s not the best player ever, but he’s certainly an unsurpassed specimen.
James will be entering his fifth-straight NBA Finals beginning next week, carrying an injury-plagued and demonstratively flawed team on his broad shoulders. In total, James is 2-3 in the Finals, where as Jordan was a perfect 6-0 with six MVPs. But overall, Jordan’s Bulls were much more balanced and talented than any of the crews James brought into battle, particularly the 2007 Cavaliers and this year’s collection.
Jordan or James? In just his first year back with the Cavaliers, James has once again lifted the entire city of Cleveland, often an urban afterthought that was devastated by his departure for Miami in the summer of 2010, a visceral and tangible connection Jordan arguably never shared with Chicago.
“It was very emotional to be back in this city,” he said after the Eastern Conference clincher. “When I made my decision to come back here, I knew what I wanted to do … I understood what these people [in Cleveland] were going through.”
Jordan or James? Greatness is greatness.