LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan: Comparing Different Aspects of Their Games

Ethan NorofCorrespondent IMay 27, 2011

LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan: Comparing Different Aspects of Their Games

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    Michael Jordan and LeBron James look eerily similar in the picture, don't they?

    Although some have been hesitant to juxtapose the two players in each aspect of their game, they're likely to go down as the most premier talents that the game has ever seen.

    LeBron has yet to win his first NBA championship ring, so he's obviously still got quite a climb in front of him if he wants to match up with Jordan's resume, but at just 26 years old, there's plenty of time left in his career to achieve greatness.

    And with Scottie Pippen's comments on Friday morning that LeBron could succeed Jordan as the game's greatest player, Pip doused a gallon of gasoline onto the fiery debate. 

Shooting

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    LeBron James has really improved his prowess as a shooter since he entered the league out of high school, but even on his best day couldn't touch the impeccable finesse of Jordan.

    Jordan, a career 49.7 percent shooter from the floor, has a slight edge over LeBron, who checks in at 47.9 percent in his career. Neither one is a particularly strong outside shooter, as Jordan and James each check in at just shy of 33 percent.

    But when you watch clips of the two of them shoot it from the floor, there's just something that's naturally beautiful about Jordan's release that LeBron's is lacking. 

Passing

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 26:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives against the Chicago Bulls in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ac
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Michael Jordan was a better facilitator than most give him due credit for, averaging better than five assists per game throughout the duration of his career. 

    But he could never run an offense like LeBron has shown he is capable of doing. On a Miami team that is playing pathetic excuses for a point guard at the position, James has handled the overwhelming majority of the duties with ease, and some of the passes he's made just leaves your jaw on the ground.

    His unbelievable ability to find his open teammates on the court regardless of where they're positioned makes him an easy selection for this category. 

Clutch Scoring

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    LeBron James has demonstrated that he's capable of catching fire when his team is lacking a scoring threat on the floor, but Jordan's ability to come through in the clutch supersedes James' by leaps and bounds.

    With every big shot that Jordan put up in his career, he shredded the bottom of the net with countless swishes. His ability to provide for his team when they needed him most on the big stage is something that James has yet to do thus far in his semi-decorated career.

    Until the King can begin to win multiple rings thanks to big shots he's taken and made, he's solely a Prince when compared to His Airness.   

Ball Handling

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 26: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks to pass as he is defended by Ronnie Brewer #11 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, I
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Michael Jordan was blessed with some pretty nice handles, as anyone he crossed up would readily tell you, but the ball handling skills of LeBron are simply on another planet.

    We talk all the time about how great Magic Johnson was at the point guard position because of the things that he did with the ball while standing 6'9" tall, and some of those exact qualities on the court are the ones that LeBron is emanating regularly.

    The really scary part about James' incredible arsenal is that he's able to execute almost flawlessly without even hesitating to think where he's going to go with the ball.  

Post Skills

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    While LeBron has proven to be a capable player in the post, James makes his living driving past defenders and exploding off of the perimeter and into the lane.

    But his time will come when he begins to age and some of the explosiveness begins to fade, and that's when he should dial Jordan and pick his brain about how to become a master in the post.

    Everyone knew what was coming: fake one way, a couple of dribbles, spin around and lean back for a fadeaway jumper.

    But nobody could stop it.  

Rebounding

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    When Michael Jordan walked out onto the court every night, fans in the stands could pretty much take it to the bank that they'd see a prolific scoring outburst from the best shooting guard of all-time.

    But when people come to watch LeBron, they know they could witness a triple-double at any moment. James has pulled down an impressive 8.87 rebounds per contest in the postseason, and there's no reason to think that he's incapable of doing that every single night.

    He's the only player that has come through the league since Oscar Robertson exited with the potential to average a triple-double, and you have to be a very special kind of player to achieve that. 

Leadership

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    LeBron has rallied his troops together before in Cleveland, and it appears he's doing it once again this season during his inaugural campaign in South Beach, but that doesn't make him a leader.

    Especially not the type of Commander in Chief that Jordan proved to be throughout his career.

    Jordan was forced to triumph through adversity after getting cut from his high school basketball team, and he played with that chip on his shoulder for his entire career.

    James was touted as the best high school prospect in the history of the world, so it's not surprising that the quality hasn't been fully developed within him quite yet.   

Athleticism

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    James is among the most athletic professionals I've ever seen take the field in any sport. 

    Jordan, although he achieved and accomplished magnificent things on the hardwood, including his infamous dunk from the foul line, is simply not the athlete that LeBron has shown to be.

    This is one area that James' advantage over Jordan is definitive. 

Defense

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    Although LeBron's defense has really escalated to new heights since he came into the league as the first overall selection, he's got a long way before he can touch Jordan's record.

    Jordan shares the record for most NBA All-Defensive First Team selections with nine, along with Kevin Garnett, Gary Payton and Kobe Bryant.

    Until LeBron can prove that he's able to play consistent defense like those guys, he's not even going to come close to eclipsing MJ in this area. 

Intangibles

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    If the Miami Heat wind up defeating the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals, James still won't even be close to matching the intangibles of Jordan. 

    Whether it was delivering 50-plus point performances when he was stricken with the flu, or winning multiple titles and crying tears of joy as he gripped the trophy, there has been no player who has loved the game quite like the Jumpman. 

    He led his team, he was both feared and respected by all and he won consistently with the same group of guys. 

    Now that's an NBA champion. 

And the Winner Is...

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    There couldn't be a better quote from Jordan to define his career.

    He was unafraid to do anything on a basketball court, and he never cared when anybody thought about him as long as his team achieved its ultimate goal of winning.

    When one strives to be the best, there has to be a fearless demeanor embedded deeply within that rears its head when challenged.

    Luckily for the sport of basketball and its fans, Jordan embodied that exact ideology.