Written by Angel Diaz (@ADiaz456)
I know this is gonna rub some people the wrong way. But fuck it, I’m a bitter Knicks fan and a former LeBron stan—I switched on 'Bronny when he decided to join Pat the Rat down in Miami (plus, the whole way he went about it rubbed me the wrong way.) I’m also old enough to remember Michael Jordan. Even though I was a Knick fan and hated the Bulls with all my heart, Mike was my favorite player and then Chris Webber (both behind Oakley, of course.) He was everybody’s favorite player in the ‘90s. Jordan did some things, man. He did things that’s hard to explain til this day.
Like the reverse against the Nets:
And the time he switched hands against the Lakers in the Finals:
Six titles, six Finals MVPs and he would’ve won eight if he didn’t retire. Mike was the second player to dominate the game for an entire decade. The first? Bill Russell. The third? Shaquille O’Neal. Now is “The King’s” time.
Off top, there are three guys in the league I would trust with the last shot more than LeBron: Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and Kobe Bryant.
James proclaimed that he would be Top 4 when his career is done. We’re not going to argue with that. No one has done what he’s done at his size. Since skipping college and going straight to the pros, LeBron was on his way to being the best all-around player in the game. That assumption proved true when he carried the 2007 Cavs to the Finals. LeBron is Karl Malone and Magic Johnson all rolled into one. He's stronger and faster than everyone else. However, he’s more Karl Malone than Magic Johnson mentally.
What separated Russell, Magic, Bird, and Jordan from the pack was their killer instinct. Off top, there are three guys in the league I would trust with the last shot more than LeBron: Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and Kobe Bryant. That's the one thing holding James back from true basketball immortality. Magic, Bird, and Jordan were ultimate competitors that took losing very seriously, almost to the point of being depressed if they didn’t win. They also didn’t make the same money LeBron is making at the same point in their careers. Maybe that has something to do with the passion they displayed.
Between 1988 and 1998, the same can be said about Mike being the best player year in, year out. There's been a lot of talk lately about James' place in history. People out here saying that he's going to be better than His Airness. To quote Loaded Lux, "How you disrespect God? Ain't it evil to live backwards?" The difference between the two is simple. Jordan was an alien sent by the basketball gods to save the NBA. LeBron is not that. He's has proven time and again that he is nothing but a mere mortal. He’s been trying to show that killer instinct but it’s not the same. He doesn’t have that aura about him—at least not to me anyway. James is Hercules. He's Achilles. Mike was here before. He taught the Mayans and the Egyptians supreme mathematics.
I remember watching Mike and knowing that he was going to put Chicago on his back and win the game. LeBron doesn’t have that invincibility about him. Maybe it has to do with the transparency of the 24-hour news cycle or social media. Jordan didn’t have a Twitter or an Instagram account and if he did he would've just used it to sell us shit. That lack of transparency made him somewhat of a myth. That’s probably why his impact felt different.
Jordan struck the fear of God into your heart. He was relentless. He was a superhero. Mike dominated a way more physical game that was filled with Hall of Famers (and actual centers) on both coasts while taking the L into another galaxy with his presence alone. When he left to play baseball, the NBA wasn’t the same and it’s still that way.
LeBron doesn’t demand the respect that M.J. did. We’re still waiting for him to develop that blood lust for winning. James is the best player of his generation but let’s not act like he scares you. Like the Heat can’t lose to a healthy Thunder squad or a deep Clippers team (you can believe in the Pacers and their 14 turnovers per game if you want). There was never that feeling with Jordan’s Bulls. The combination of Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen, and Michael Jordan was six for six and didn't play in any Finals Game 7s. And when they added Dennis Rodman, they damn near went undefeated in a league with more parity and better players. Picture the Heat only losing 10 games. If they can't do it in a weak conference, they'll never do it.
Jordan shattered dreams of every fan of every team. Just when you thought the Bulls were down, he would take over and will them to victory. He didn’t flop either, he played real defense. Could you imagine a world where there were YouTube video compilations of M.J. flopping?
I appreciate James’ game. He’s a monster. LeBron is amazing to watch. He’s just not a monster that haunts my every waking moment like Jordan did. Jordan shattered dreams of every fan of every team. Just when you thought the Bulls were down, he would take over and will them to victory. He didn’t flop either, he played real defense. Could you imagine a world where there were YouTube video compilations of M.J. flopping? LeBron plays better team defense than individual—he's learned a lot from Shane Battier when it comes to taking charges and how to flop. Jordan played both team and individual defense equally at a very high level.
Michael Jordan was a cold-blooded killer. LeBron doesn’t play the villain role well. He likes (wants) to be liked. And that’s fine, that’s not his style. Just stop acting as if he’s god because there is only one and his name is Michael Jeffrey Jordan.