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LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan: The eternal debate over the NBA’s greatest superstar


There is a cultural divide ripping through American society, and while it has nothing to do with guns or abortion, it can still ruin family dinners and holidays.

“Michael Jordan or LeBron James?” has become an inevitable litmus test for basketball fans, pitting one generation against the next in a contentious debate that touches everything from the game itself to business, fashion, and even film (yes, the Space Jam franchise).

Only opinions on the subject have become newsworthy, as was the case on Friday when Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen chose James over Jordan, his estranged former Chicago Bulls teammate.

It’s not just about basketball’s best player.

That conversation should include 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who retired as the all-time leading scorer before James broke that record this season.

The problem is that Russell and Abdul-Jabbar represent vastly different eras in NBA history, making comparisons to modern players difficult, if not impossible.

Icons LeBron James and Michael Jordan laugh at the 2022 All-Star game in Cleveland

Jordan with the 1992 NBA Championship trophy

James retains the same trophy having won it in 2012

“Jordan or James?” has become an inevitable litmus test for basketball fans

But James grew up idolizing Jordan and styling his game after his hero, who would retire a year before his rookie season. It’s almost like James is a sequel or evolution of the Hall of Famer: The T-1000 to Jordan’s Terminator.

With James reportedly considering retirement after the Lakers were swept by the Nuggets in the conference finals, DailyMail.com is putting their enviable resumes side by side to gauge their respective impact and determine who is the NBA’s biggest superstar.


Michael Jordan has six NBA titles and LeBron James has four.

For many, the debate between the two ends there, but such criteria can be problematic: By that standard, seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry is better than Jordan.

Basketball is, of course, a team game and both James and Jordan’s successes are due in part to their teammates.

James’ running mates included elite players Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (Miami), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland) and Anthony Davis (Los Angeles), while Jordan played with Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc and Dennis Rodman. name All-Stars Horace Grant, BJ Armstrong, Reggie Theus, and Artis Gilmore.

But even considering their similar supporting casts, there’s a bit of daylight between Jordan and James when it comes to postseason play.

Jordan’s Bulls went 119-60 (66.4 percent) in playoff games and won 30 of 37 postseason series (81.1 percent).

Jordan after winning the 1997 Bulls NBA Finals

James, following the Lakers' 2020 NBA Finals victory

Jordan has six NBA titles compared to James’ four. Of course, James has yet to retire

Most importantly, Jordan’s Bulls won 6-0 in the NBA Finals, winning each series in six or fewer games.

James, meanwhile, is only 4-6 in the finals, winning 64.5 percent of playoff games and 77.3 percent of postseason series. And while he deserves credit for consistency (his 282 playoff games are an NBA record), James was outdone at times, such as his three Finals losses at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.

Even considering the Cavaliers’ historic comeback in 2016, when they came back from a 3-1 deficit to stun the Warriors, Jordan’s post-season aura of invincibility is simply too much for James to overcome.

EDGE: Jordan


Due in large part to his 20 NBA seasons—a remarkable feat in itself—James is the league’s all-time leading scorer (38,567 career points), while Jordan ranks first in scoring average with 30.12 points per game.

Similarly, James has scored the most in the postseason (7,491 points), while Jordan ranks first in postseason scoring average (33.4 points per game).

But while Jordan’s offensive contributions have largely focused on scoring, James also ranks as one of the greatest distributors in NBA history, ranking fourth all-time in assists in the regular season (10,420) and second in the postseason. ‘ (2.203).

James has a block lead (1,073 to 893), Jordan has more steals (2,514 to 2,186), and both have a number of All-Defensive Team honors.

But even though Jordan won NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1988, James has never been named the game’s best defenseman.

In addition, James has four MVP awards to Jordan’s six – and it can be argued that MJ was rejected in 1993, when Charles Barkley won the award, and again in 1997, when he went to Karl Malone.

EDGE: Jordan

Jordan confused the Bullets in 1985

James dunks as a rookie in 2003

Michael Jordan has six MVP awards to James’ four, and also has a Defensive POY award


It’s hard to compete with Jordan’s impact in the apparel industry.

Even two decades after his retirement, 60-year-old James still earned $180 million to $127 million in 2022, according to Sportico.

That’s almost all thanks to Jordan’s personal brand Nike, which brought in more than $5 billion for the apparel giant by 2022. Since Jordan’s signing in 1984, Nike has seen his market value grow from $920 million to $187 billion.

Sure, James is also responsible for some of that growth (and so are Tiger Woods and Serena Williams for that matter), but it’s hard to overstate Jordan’s overall impact on the industry.

First edition Jordan sneakers can cost as much as $20,000, which should surprise no one who remembers their initial popularity in the 1980s. People were robbed, robbed and even killed for their Jordans, which thankfully is no longer the case.

James may have a longer list of sponsors, like AT&T and PepsiCo, and then there are the brands he’s personally invested in, like Calm, Ladder/Openfit, and Lobos 1707 tequila.

But as successful as a pitchman like James is, nothing compares to the influence Jordan has had on clients for nearly 40 years.

EDGE: Jordan

A general view of rapper Bow Wow's Jordan Brand sneakers in 2014

A general view of rapper Bow Wow’s Jordan Brand sneakers in 2014

A close-up of the Nike sneakers LeBron James wore during the 2013 postseason

A close-up of the Nike sneakers LeBron James wore during the 2013 postseason


James has ownership interests with Liverpool FC, the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Penguins

James has ownership interests with Liverpool FC, the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Penguins

But not everything Jordan touches turns to gold.

As owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Jordan has struggled to find executives, coaches and players to complement him, as Pippen once did in Chicago.

After a frustrating stint as the Washington Wizards Director of Basketball Operations and a short, memorable comeback with the team, Jordan purchased a minority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006.

By 2010, he would buy the majority stake from media mogul Bob Johnson, and in 2015, he would name the team the “Hornets,” after the previous NBA franchise that Charlotte inhabited.

But aside from the name change, Jordan’s tenure as Hornets owner has been anything but memorable.

Charlotte has enjoyed just three winning seasons and just two playoff berths since Jordan became a majority owner.

While the team boasts a promising young talent in LaMelo Ball, injuries ruined the Hornets’ 2022–23 season, which finished with a 14th-place finish in the East.

Jordan's tenure as majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets has not gone particularly well

Jordan’s tenure as majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets has not gone particularly well

Jordan is now negotiating the sale of the team to minority owner Gabe Plotkin, but will reportedly retain a minority stake if and when the deal is finalized.

Jordan also co-owns NASCAR’s 23XI Racing, but hasn’t fared much better on the track. Currently his drivers Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace are 10th and 15th respectively in the Cup Series standings.

James is not the main owner of a major sports team, but does have interests in the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Red Sox, and Liverpool FC in the Premier League, and hopes to one day own an NBA franchise in Las Vegas, although there is no permanent are plans. announced.

Both Jordan and James are reportedly billionaires, but given the former’s struggles as a team owner, it’s hard to face him in this arena.

EDGE: James

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