Monday, June 17, 2013

jordan and james

I guess I'm one of the very few who isn't convinced that the Michael Jordan of the 1990s would have had the same championship successes here in the 21st century.

It would be fun if we could replace LeBron James with Jordan in his prime, put him with the Miami Heat against San Antonio in this Finals series, see what happens. Obviously, we can't.

Wilt Chamberlain was (arguably) the greatest basketball player ever -- if you look at what he did back in the '60s, against 1960s competition. Would he have ever had a season where he averaged over 50 points and over 25 rebounds per game (like he did in the 1961-62 season) if he had come into the league in 1970? Or in 1980 or 1990? Who knows, but I doubt it.

While it's fun to try to compare players from different eras, doing so really makes no sense. In Michael Jordan and LeBron James, we're talking about two completely different players, with different styles of play, different teammates, different opponents, different coaches, and different rules of the game.

Here's how Sean Highkin put it in a recent article:

But the debate is growing tiresome—LeBron is enough of a physical freak that he would have been a superstar in any era. It’s not his fault the rules are now more restrictive of physical play. If he had grown up in a previous era, he would have been conditioned to expect that and been able to adapt his game to it. He would have been fine.

James is already one of the greatest players ever. He should be appreciated as that, on his own terms, rather than being constantly held to standards that are irrelevant to him.

I fully agree.

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