Recently, Bleacher Report’s own Josh Martin broke down the comparison between LeBron James and Michael Jordan and came to the conclusion that LeBron may never match up to Jordan in awards and rings, but “has the potential to be every bit his equal in purely basketball terms before he joins Jordan in retirement.”
It is an interesting take, and you should give it a read if you haven’t already. Despite Josh’s solid work, there is a more common comparison when LeBron’s name is brought up in a historic basketball sense, and that is between James and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
James even brings up this comparison, recently saying:
“...you look at Magic [Johnson], and people say that he was fun to play with. He was great. He always had his teammates’ back. He always got his teammates involved. He was a champion as well. For me, I see myself on the side of the Magic range where I love my teammates, love being around them. I want them to be happy as well. At the same time, dominate the game, as well."
LeBron’s game has a lot of similarities to Magic’s, so let’s break it down and compare a couple of the different aspects of their game to each other.
Both LeBron and Magic are well known for their playmaking abilities, with Magic running the point for the “Showtime” Lakers and LeBron able to dominate a game in his hybrid point forward position.
Taking a look at the actual numbers, LeBron is currently averaging 6.9 assists for his career; his highest season average was in 2009-2010, when he was with the Cavs and averaged an amazing 8.6 assists per game. Again, LeBron technically plays the small forward position, but he is usually referred to as a point forward since he controls the flow of the game.
Magic, on the other hand, finished his career averaging 11.2 apg, with his highest average coming in the 1983-1984 season, when he averaged a mind boggling 13.1 apg.
The Triple Doubles
Besides for being known for his amazing assists, Magic Johnson is widely regarded as having an all-around game similar to LeBron. The statistical evidence for this can be seen in the high number of triple doubles each has recorded in their respective careers.
Magic finished his 13-year career with 138 regular season triple doubles.
LeBron has a ways to go to catch up to Magic, as he has recorded 35 regular season triple doubles in his nine-year career.
Magic and LeBron clearly have a number of similarities, but they are completely different players. Magic was Showtime, flashy passes and fast-paced basketball.
LeBron quite simply is a beast. Strong, take it to the rack, physical basketball.
Magic Johnson finished his career as a five-time NBA champion and a three-time MVP. LeBron James is already a three-time MVP and has one championship ring. Although James has played nine years in the NBA, it is important to remember he is 27 years old, and with players having longer careers nowadays, there is a strong possibility that there will be more championship rings to add to his collection.
Whenever LeBron retires, he will definitely be seen as one of the best players of all-time and a Hall of Famer. Just like the player his game most closely mirrors, Earvin “Magic” Johnson.