LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan: Comparing Their First 9 Seasons in the NBA

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LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan: Comparing Their First 9 Seasons in the NBA
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

King James vs. Air Jordan

The Chosen One vs. His Airness

Who’s better?

The Miami Heat won the 2012 NBA Championship last week. It was LeBron James’ first NBA championship, and he solidified his place as the best player in the NBA today as well as one of the greatest players ever. James has earned this championship, and he clearly deserves all the credit people give him.

But I do have one issue with this new championship. I’ve read many articles and comments about James being better than Michael Jordan at the age of 27. I know James is better than Jordan at age 27. He has accomplished more in the NBA at age 27 than Jordan at the same age. It’s not a lie. It’s a fact. But this comparison is misleading and unfair, because they didn’t have the same number of NBA seasons under their belts at age 27.

Jordan had played 6 seasons in the NBA when he was 27 years old. James has played 9 seasons thus far. Also, Jordan missed 64 games in his second season because he was injured. James never played fewer than 70 games in a season until this year, when teams played a shortened 66-game season. So Jordan had actually played 5 seasons by age 27.

I don’t think it’s fair to compare a 9-season career with a 5-season career. It’s obvious that a player will achieve more if he plays 9 seasons instead of just 5.  

The best way to compare these players is to use the same number of seasons. Now...James fans will say that Jordan was 22 years old when he was a rookie and that he had an 3-year advantage in basketball experience, but these are the same fans that use the age comparison—despite the fact that James played more seasons than Jordan at the same age. I don’t think that using the number of seasons is unfair.

Also, these fans say that say James was drafted right out of high school because he was so good. Well, if he was so good, why shouldn’t we compare his first NBA seasons with Jordan’s first seasons? It makes no sense, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they were in the same situation: They were rookies in the NBA. With 9 NBA seasons, they had the same NBA experience, so it’s better to compare these players using the number of seasons.

So, who was more successful in the first 9 seasons?

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