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COLUMN: The best NBA player ever

Livin' the dream

Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 13:02

 

Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Michael Jordan.

It’s a 17-year-old debate, or ever since Bryant was hailed as the next Jordan when he jumped straight from high school to the NBA in 1996. Lebron joined the discussion when he followed suit in 2003.

Rage all you want, but Air Jordan is the original, the god of basketball, and at this point in his career, the nickname of “King” James fits, which makes Kobe Bryant the prince.

There’s no doubt the trio are clear and away the most revolutionary players to play the game, but his royal airness is unmatched.

Consider this: Bryant has yet to match Jordan in career points, steals, blocks and rebounds despite having played 16-and-a-half seasons to Jordan’s 15. He’s still 1,000 points, 800 steals, 300 blocks and 200 rebounds away. 

Even though they both have had the ball in their hands for the majority of time throughout their respective careers, Jordan has 700 fewer turnovers. 

The James-Jordan comparison is a bit tougher since King James has five and a half seasons to go before he equals Jordan’s time, so let’s use their averages. 

Jordan has a better career field goal shooting percentage and a higher average in points per game, steals, blocks, offensive rebounds and a lower turnover average. James has the best average of the three in defensive rebounds, total rebounds, assists and the lowest average of fouls per game.

So statistically, James still has a realistic chance to surpass Jordan as the greatest player ever, while Bryant’s chance is gone.

Let’s throw in accolades.

Thus far, James has one NBA championship in three tries, nine All-Star appearances, is a 3-time regular season MVP, one-time NBA Finals MVP, 2-time All-Star game MVP, has won one NBA scoring title and was Rookie of the Year his first season.

Bryant has five NBA titles in seven appearances, 15 All-Star appearances, was regular season MVP once, Finals MVP twice, All-Star MVP four times, with two NBA scoring titles and one Slam Dunk title.

First and foremost, Jordan was 6-for-6 in NBA Finals appearances, winning Finals MVP all six times, a 15-time All-Star selection  — he sat one year due to injury — won five regular season MVP awards, had three All-Star MVP awards, won the scoring title 10 times, the Slam Dunk contest twice and was Rookie of the Year.

In case this isn’t enough to convince you, for good measure let’s throw out the fact that Jordan is one of seven players in history to win an NCAA national title, an NBA championship and an Olympic gold medal.

So while James still has a shot at being the best player ever statistically, the all-around edge goes to Jordan by a landslide. 

There’s plenty more awards Jordan received, but there’s not a single award James or Bryant have won that Jordan didn’t, and Jordan won them all more times for the most part. 

There’s no one who can match Mike. Every kid growing up, Kobe and Lebron included, fit the phrase “I want to be like Mike.” 

He’s simply the greatest ever, no matter how you look at it.

 

– curtislundstrom@gmail.com

Twitter: @CurtisLundstrom

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