The GOAT debate between Michael Jordan and LeBron James will likely never have a definitive answer because it is based on one’s opinion. However, Jordan seems to be creating some separation, even though he has not even had to step foot back onto an NBA floor. Jordan has done his damage from behind the desk as the team’s owner and it appears he is having a career year.
Drafting a franchise player in LaMelo Ball tends to help make your job a lot easier, especially since Ball was easily the Rookie of the Year candidate before going down with a wrist fracture. Not to mention the other draft selections of years past are beginning to look like vital pieces that fit nicely next to Ball. Add a nice crop of veterans to the mix and Jordan seems to be well on his way to clinching a playoff birth.
The future might look bright now, but it has been a struggle for Jordan to build a real contender for a little while. Since he took full ownership over the team in 2010, his teams have only made the postseason twice. Also, the Hornets hold an NBA record for the worst record in NBA history at 7-59. Attempting to attract free agents to Charlotte after a season like that could not have been an easy task, so building through the draft was the next best thing. Unfortunately, they have not made the best decisions come draft day. In 2012, they selected Michael Kidd-Gilchrist second overall with guys like Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Draymond Green, and Andre Drummond, just to name a few.
Jordan had an impact right away when he started his career as a player, but he is a late bloomer when it comes down to building a franchise from the ground up. Trading away Kemba Walker for Terry Rozier was the start of something great for Jordan and the Hornets. Sure, Walker might be one of the greatest Hornets of all time, but they saved a ton of money by not giving him a max contract.
That move cleared up the eventual cap space that allowed them to snag Gordon Hayward out of free agency. This season, both veterans are averaging right around 20 points a night and have helped make the Hornets relevant for the first time since the 90s. Securing those two was huge for the Hornets, but getting Ball in the draft is why Jordan is elevating his GOAT stature even more. He seems to have the right tools to be a potential MVP one day.
Of course, LeBron is still an active player and is still focused on catching the ghost that is Michael Jordan, but I am sure he is paying close attention. James has expressed that when his playing career is over, he would love to own an NBA franchise one day. Jordan has not won anything as an owner yet, but he closer than James is right now. Perhaps James is taking notes and already has the perfect plan in place to surpass his childhood idol as an owner. Regardless, Jordan has a major head start and is still the GOAT.