The Last Dance documentary sparked renewed interest in Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls dynasty he helped curate. The documentary highlights the difficulties of the Bulls sixth and final championship during their run, as well as Jordan’s intense competitive drive.
While Jordan’s accomplishments and spirit of competition can’t be disputed, his place in history has allowed for more sports talk fodder. Particularly, who is the better player: he, or LeBron James?
Michael Jordan personifies winning. He parlayed his drive to win by any means into a six-for-six championship streak. In the eyes of many sports pundits and fans, he’s the true all-time great. Their favorite tagline? He didn’t need superteams to win titles. Unlike..
LeBron James, who has been the model of durability and the most productive all-around player in NBA history. Yes, he piloted the present-day superteam model and won three NBA titles with rich talent. However, his productivity and imposing physical play have led many to say that he’s the greatest NBA player ever.
Jordan didn’t need superteams. James leaned on them. Both are winners and incredibly efficient. So what gives?
Michael Jordan and LeBron James are both legendary players who dominated their eras. Sure, Jordan’s era allowed for more physical play, and it built him into a more resilient player. But who is to say James would not have been more successful?
The same for James and this current era. Jordan would perhaps have more leeway due to the rules bending for skilled offensive players. But would Jordan’s era of building around one star sans superteams put him at a competitive disadvantage? Whether the two players would survive in each other’s era’s, we will never know.
Which is why we shouldn’t waste our valuable brain cells with hypothetical situations. The scenarios won’t happen now, tomorrow, or ever. There is no teleporting machine that will ship the two greats forward or backward.
But just because James won with superteams doesn’t diminish his output. And because Jordan won as the sole focus of his teams doesn’t mean his accomplishments are greater. Too often the generations of fans get caught up in their discrepancies. Why can’t we just love them for their greatness?
In the end, Michael Jordan will get the majority vote. But as author Robert Greene wrote in his book, The Laws of Human Nature, time is our greatest ally. Who knows, if James wins more championships and individual accolades, he may supplant Jordan. If he doesn’t, that will still be okay. Both players are great in their own right and should be celebrated as such.