Throughout these NBA Finals I’ve been getting sick of the constant Lebron James and Michael Jordan debates about who will have the better legacy. While Lebron still has many more chapters to write for his legacy, the Jordan legacy is one of if not the greatest athletic legacy of all time. While these analysts will throw out statistics and try to analytically compare these two icons, Jordan’s legacy goes beyond the basketball court. While this debate will probably never end here are five reasons why Michael Jordan’s legacy is greater than Lebron James will be.
5) College glory
This one is a quick and one-sided debate. Since Lebron James never attended college he never had the chance to leave a legacy on college basketball. However, Jordan did. As a freshman, he made the winning shot against Georgetown to win the National Championship in 1982. With Jordan, the Tar Heels helped to build one of the best programs in college basketball which continues today. While Lebron supporters will say that it is more impressive to go from high school to the NBA, Jordan had one of the greatest college basketball careers and has added bonus points to his resume. Only a handful of players have made such an impact in both the NCAA and the NBA, and Jordan is one of them.
4) Hometown Hero
Why is Lebron James hated so much? Well when you embarrass your hometown on national television people will tend to think you’re a jerk. “The Decision” which aired on June 8, 2o10 on ESPN is one decision that Lebron James wishes he could change. Not necessarily joining the Heat, but how he handled the whole situation. Instead of just having it announced like any other athlete, he decided to torture the Cleveland faithful even more by giving them just a glimmer of hope that he’d return only to take it away in an instant. Also it doesn’t help when you say that you made the decision that morning. Doesn’t look like you put that much effort into it. Personally I don’t think that going to the Heat instead of playing Cleveland should hurt Lebron’s legacy. However, Jordan did stay with one team and did win for the hometown team instead of leaving. For me though I think just how he handled the decision and turn it into a publicity stunt will hurt his legacy more in the long-run then actually leaving Cleveland.
3) Jordan’s impressive 6-0
If Michael Jordan was a movie he’d be known as The Lord of the Rings. While he may not have the most rings, there is no question that his perfect NBA title record is unmatched. While you could possibly beat Jordan any other time of the year, when the lights where brightest and it was the final minute of the season, you had no chance. Jordan was clutch, and being able to go to six championships and win six rings in an amazing accomplishment. Heck if Jordan didn’t take off to play baseball he could have probably added another ring or two to his trophy case. Unfortunately for James, his 1 for 3 NBA finals record makes this is an easy win for Jordan. Even if James can pull out a title this season he’ll only would have won 50% of his NBA title shots. Sorry Lebron, Jordan’s got you beat here.
2) His Royal Airness
Jordans. Just saying that jars up the jump man image on the side of a sweet pair of sneakers. The “Air Jordan” brand has become a world-wide icon and cements Micheal Jordan as the most marketable athlete in history. James doesn’t have his own brand and will probably never come close to establishing a brand like Jordan has. Beyond the Jordan brand, while James will probably make more money off of endorsements then Jordan, his airness did create the market for modern-day stars. Jordan was a trailblazer for sports marketing and has allowed for athletes to get the endorsements they do to this day. Jordan’s impact is incredible when you realize how he’s become integrated into modern-day culture. Even today he is still a marketing juggernaut even after stepping off the hardwood more than a decade ago. Think about it Jordans, McDonald’s, Hanes, Gatorade, Coca Cola, Ball Park Franks, Wheaties and Chevrolet. Chances are you still have a favorite MJ commercial you remember and that you’ve seen all of his commercials from these brands. As for James, his only commercials are with Nike and his most memorable one is when he had this pity party commercial because people now looked at him as the villain. Sorry James MJ wins with impact, volume, variety, and doesn’t whine when it comes to his commercials. Also the man played with Bug Bunny in Space Jam! Seriously every kid I know has seen that movie. Have you played basketball with a world-famous cartoon character? Nope didn’t think so Lebron. Click here for a trip down memory lane.
1 ) Coming through in the clutch
Game 7, clock about to expire, your team needs a basket who do you give the ball to? I’m betting that if you could choose any player to take the winning shot, it would be Jordan. This basket at the end of the 99 Finals is one of those moments when Jordan came through in the clutch. In the face of adversity Jordan always seemed to come up big. Whether it was game winning shots, dunks, or being able to overcome the flu (click here), Jordan’s career was filled with coming through in the biggest moments. James, on the other hand, has come up short in big spots. Sure he had the game winner against the Pacers this year, but other than the game winner in Cleveland a few years ago what has he done? Not only has Jordan created more clutch moments but, but he’s done it on the biggest stage in the finals. Has Lebron made any memorable plays in the finals? Jordan has, heck you could have a highlight show of all his memorable moments in the finals. In the end there is no question that when you want a game winning basket, you’re giving the rock to Jordan.
While I still find it difficult to pick between these two players, they’re both very different players in very different eras, in the end of the Jordan versus James debate it is clear that Jordan is the clear winner. Sure Lebron could break his scoring records and even title wins, but at the end of the day no player had a greater impact on the game of basketball then Michael Jordan. While statistically both these men are very close, and you could argue Lebron is superior, when you combine all of the other factors MJ is the clear victor. No athlete has had such an impact both on and off the court as Jordan has. While Lebron may truly end up being the king, there is no question that Jordan will always be the greatest.