LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world. Be a witness to his greatness. He is the Chosen One. He is King James. However, he is not, and will never be, Michael Jordan.
LeBron James is a 6'8" 250 lb. power guard. He made his name as a High School phenom attempting to leave school after his junior year at the age of 17. He was the number one pick of the '03 NBA Draft, and an instant success in the NBA, using his size and athletic ability in a unique team-first philosophy not employed by many top players. LeBron was instantly able to make plays that no other player in the NBA could make. He dominates games by drawing attention to himself before dishing the ball off to teammates. His extraordinary efficiency is praised by many, but draws criticism when he fails to be selfish at the end of games. Many believe that this comes from his lack of 'killer instinct' that, at times, is needed to closeout games.
LeBron James and his host of awards: Symbolic of his pride in himself.
Michael Jordan is a 6'6" 216 lb. shooting guard. A product of hard work. He is Air Jordan. His Airness. Many basketball players today strive to be 'Like Mike'. Jordan was cut from the Varsity Basketball team his freshman year of High School, and he will never let any of us forget it. Played up as an underdog, Jordan was coached by the great Dean Smith and hit the game-winning shot in his freshman year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After winning the Naismith Award and playing three years of collegiate basketball, he made the jump to the NBA and was selected 3rd overall by the Chicago Bulls in 1984. While in the NBA, Jordan would battle all-time greats like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, an Isaiah Thomas before building a dynasty in Chicago. He built a reputation as a deadly scorer and a fierce competitor early in his career with epic playoff battles, including "The Shot" he made over Craig Ehlo in 1989.
Michael Jordan and his first NBA Finals Trophy: Symbolic of his love of the game.
Over the next 10 years, Jordan went on to win three championships, three Finals MVPs, seven scoring titles, and four Most Valuable Player awards. After retiring for personal reasons to pursue a professional baseball career, he returned to the NBA in 1995 to win three more championships, three more finals MVPs, two more league MVPs, and three more scoring titles before again retiring in '98. During a brief management stint with the Washington Wizards, Jordan decided again to come out of retirement and played from '01 to '03 before retiring for good.
The resume's speak for themselves. LeBron James and Michael Jordan are both tremendous players, the best of their respective eras. However, the comparison stops there. LeBron is a straight out of high school player that has never had strong coaching and plays in an age of free agency, in an NBA that has less concentrated power, and has few teams with championship players. Michael, however, played under two of the greatest coaches of all time, battled against many other championship teams, and had an entirely different NBA experience.
LeBron James cannot be Michael Jordan. In fact, he cannot be any of the past great players that everyone wants him to be. Whether it is Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, or, of course, MJ, they are all individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses. It is natural for us to use past players as a point of reference, but the comparisons are not valid, because each athlete must be treated as an individual with his own physical and mental skill set. Let us allow LeBron to carve out his own legacy in basketball, be his own player, and compare him to the contemporaries that he competes against annually.