By Dennis Berry
On Friday morning Scottie Pippen caused a stir in the basketball world on the ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike In The Morning" show when he made the following statement:
"Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to play the game, but I may go as far as to say LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game because he is so potent offensively that not only can he score at will but he keeps everybody involved."
Pippen played with Jordan in Chicago and won six titles. He witnessed the greatness of Jordan first hand. For Pippen to place James in higher ranks than Jordan in the history of the game right now is just ridiculous. James has a long way to go before he can even be mentioned with Jordan as being the best ever.
Michael Jordan's legend first started in college. As a freshman at North Carolina he hit the game winning shot in the 1982 NCAA Championship game. He was a two time NCAA All-American in 1983 and 1984. He was also the ACC and NCAA Player of the Year in 1984.
In the NBA he was the 1985 Rookie of the Year. He led the NBA in scoring 10 times in his career. He was a five time MVP of the NBA. He was selected to 10 All-NBA first teams, nine All-NBA Defensive Teams, and selected to 14 All-Star Teams. He won two Olympic Gold Medals and was named the NBA Finals MVP six times while leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA Championships. He was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time team.
LeBron James burst onto the national sports scene in high school. He was the 2003 Naismith Prep Player of the Year. He chose to go to the NBA rather than play in college. He was the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft by Cleveland. Since entering the NBA, James has been one of the biggest NBA stars.
He was the 2004 NBA Rookie of the Year. He has lead the NBA only once in his career. James has been named to seven All-Star teams and five All-NBA First teams. He has been named the MVP of the NBA twice. James has yet to win an NBA title, but the Miami Heat open the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.
Winning NBA championships is what separates Jordan and James. For Jordan, winning was the ultimate prize and there was nothing bigger than winning the NBA Championships. Jordan played in six NBA Finals, with a record of 6-0. James has only been in one NBA Finals before the 2011 Finals, which was in 2007. That year Cleveland was over matched by the San Antonio Spurs and was swept.
The other quality that seems to come to question the most between Jordan and James is their competitive spirit. Jordan was known as the ultimate competitor. He wanted to win at everything. Whether it was in the NBA or a pickup game. He always wanted to win and would keep coming at you until he beat you.
The same cannot be said for James. His competitiveness has come under question the past few seasons. In the 2010 playoffs, when Cleveland was eliminated by the Boston Celtics, the question of whether James quit on his team in the final game was circulating. Then following the playoffs came the summer of James' free agency. That ended with James "taking his talents to South Beach" and joining Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
The fact that James left Cleveland left a bad taste in people's mouth. It also brings to question whether James felt he could be the man in Cleveland and win a title there. He felt the only way he could win a title was to join forces with Wade and Bosh to win. There is nothing wrong with James doing that, but why did have to join with other All-Stars to win?
People like to point out that Jordan had great teams as well; like Pippen, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc, and Dennis Rodman. The difference is that Pippen, Grant, and Kukoc were all drafted by Chicago and Rodman was signed as a free agent. The team brought them in to play with Jordan and build a winner. James felt that Cleveland was not serious about winning and that he could not win there. James felt his best chance at winning was by joining the Heat.
Right now James is no where near the level that Michael Jordan is, which is the best to ever play basketball. The only player in the NBA that deserves to be compared to Jordan is Kobe Bryant. He was won five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVP and one regular season MVP. Bryant is the only player in the league that shows the same competitive fire that Jordan displayed when he played.
Pippen later backed off his statements on his twitter account. Pippen wrote:
"Don't get me wrong, MJ was and is the greatest. But LeBron could by all means get to his level someday."
If Pippen has said that on the radio, there would have been little uproar.
There are lots of reasons to hate LeBron James. Here are four good ones. Check out our The Legitimate Reasons to Hate LeBron James
LeBron James Will Never Come Close to Michael Jordan. Check out ourLeBron James vs Michael Jordan