Michael Jordan (240113)

The Cleveland Cavaliers closed out their series against the Boston Celtics last week to advance to the NBA Finals, which begin tonight (Thursday). Cleveland versus the Golden State Warriors. Besides the celebration of the Cavs’ pending fourth championship appearance, they celebrated LeBron James passing Michael Jordan’s record of most points scored in postseason games, becoming the all-time leading playoff scorer.

“I wear the number [23] because of Mike,” said James after their 135-102 blowout last Monday night. “I think I fell in love with the game because of Mike.”

Jordan amassed 5,987 postseason points during his 16-year career. James amassed 5,995. By the end of the first quarter of tonight’s first NBA Finals game, he should be the first player ever to score 6,000-plus career playoff points, but Jordan’s postseason record number of points was scored in 179 games. It took James 212 games to break that record, 33 more. A major counterpoint in the debate of the James comparison to His Airness.

To describe James, listed as 6-foot-8, 250 pounds in his 13th season, he’s a larger version in game style than Oklahoma Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who is 6-foot-3 and weighs in at 200 pounds. The resemblance is in his drives to the basket and deep threes.

Jordan, chosen by the Chicago Bulls, the third pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, played from 1984 to 2003. James, drafted by Cleveland, was the first pick in the 2003 draft. They were both voted Rookie Of The Year. Jordan has been the NBA Scoring Leader 10 times, James once.

There is no debating James’ greatness, but with respect to Jordan, you must factor in and start the comparison with Jordan’s six championship rings, three consecutive wins from 1991 to ’93 and the next three in ’96, ’97 and ’98 and scroll down. The tragic murder of his father, James Jordan on July, 31, 1996, sent Jordan into exile from basketball for two years. Upon his return, he picked up where he left off, leading the Bulls to a 72-10 season, a record number of team wins in a season, only two home losses all season, and more road game wins (33) than any team in NBA history.

Add there were three more consecutive chips and three more MVP post season trophies to accompany the first three he received. Jordan amassed 32,292 points, 30.1 points per game, 6,672 rebounds (6.2 pg) and 5,633 assists (5.3 pg) over a 14-season career.

There are never any real comparisons or arguable debates such as James and Kobe (Bryant), James versus Magic (Johnson). James, 32, has three chips under his belt, two with the Miami Heat and one last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the highest paid player in the NBA at $30.9 million. In the 1997-1998 season, Jordan made $33.1 million, still the highest single-season NBA salary ever. Balance that out with inflationary rates, you could buy a lot more with $30 million in the late ’90s than you can today, but James still has a chance to be the greatest of all time starting with the NBA Finals that begin tonight in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors. It’s the third consecutive four out of seven championship series between the Cavs and the Warriors. The first time in NBA history that two teams have had this accomplishment “To be like Mike” or better, and to continue the conversation, James will have to win this series, as well as the next two NBA championships, to take that title.