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Why statistics make LeBron’s 'GOAT' tag null and void

LeBron James has left the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
11th June, 2018
45

So yet another NBA season has finished, and here we are talking about the same thing we’ve been talking about for the last five or six years.

Is LeBron James the cream of the crop, the numero uno, or is he simply a cream puff, a product made from the hype machine that is modern day entitlement and hysteria?

One thing is for certain, and that is LeBron James will go down in history as one of the greatest basketball players to ever live. But can we please, for the love of sanity, start reading statistics (some people call it ‘research’) before branding James as the ‘Greatest of All Time’?

James, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan etc etc. The NBA has had some absolute superstars across all eras, with some being the better at certain attributes than others. But how do we go about narrowing down the greatest?

One way to not go about it is with your heart, because you will inevitably meet someone that will destroy your case with cold, hard, facts, or simple statistics, for ease of understanding.

Whenever the GOAT basketball player argument is raised, there are only two players mentioned, that being LeBron James and Michael Jordan.

As a youngster in the 90s, I was a mad-keen basketball card collector, and the one card I took most pride in owning were that of the great, Michael Jordan. Even as a child, I was more than aware of Jordan’s trials and tribulations growing up, and what made him the player he was.

So, whenever LeBron James’s name gets brought up in the same sentence as Jordan, or even mentioned as the GOAT, I do my due diligence, and research the statistics.

I don’t think of the cool name. I don’t look at the cool head bands. I don’t look at the materialistic garbage that plays a part in making LeBron James the superstar he is. I look at the statistics.

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Statistics show a lot of things. But most importantly, as I have previously mentioned, they show cold, hard, facts. The fact of the matter is that LeBron James simply doesn’t stack up to Michael Jordan in most relevant statistics to the argument.

Michael Jordan Tall

Michael Jordan (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

People talk about LeBron’s scoring prowess (27.2 pg), but Jordan was better (30.1 pg). Jordan even played some seasons at 38-40 years old, and he still averages more points per game.

People talk about LeBron being a better all-round basketballer, but once again, Jordan was better. LeBron won the NBA Point Scoring Championship once, Jordan did it ten times. James made the NBA All-Defensive First Team five times, Jordan did it nine.

People talk about LeBron being the most dominate finals performer with his three NBA Finals MVPs. But yet again, Jordan was better. He had six.

Even playing in teams that were built around him, LeBron lacks the statistics that matter.

Now let’s talk about leadership shall we…

LeBron has led the Heat and Cavaliers to a total of three titles. Jordan led the Bulls to six.
LeBron has won three NBA Finals MVP awards. Again, Jordan won six.

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LeBron has won four NBA Most Valuable Player awards. Jordan won five!

LeBron James

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Remember that a champion team is always better than a team of champions, yet even though Jordan was in what would certainly be classed as the former type of team here compared to LeBron. He was still the statistically better player.

In fact, LeBron only beats Jordan in a single noteworthy statistic, that being that he made the All-NBA First Team twelve times to Jordan’s ten.

Gone are the days where players were rated on just raw statistics and leadership skills. Gone are the days where it was more important to be valuable to your team, rather than tickling your own ego or pushing a political agenda.

We have turned into such a selfish, ignorant, materialistic society, that looking at the statistics of players from times gone by isn’t even thought of.

A society where the earrings and headbands you wear, the presidents you bag, and the catch phrases given to you by commentary teams are just as important to cementing your legacy as your god given ability.

Now calm down, please just relax. I know there will be people reading this that are getting a little upset.

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I still think LeBron is worthy of most of the praise that is thrown at him. But for now, and very likely forever after this, LeBron James will have to settle for second (statistically speaking anyway) or even third behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the Greatest of all Time.

And just remember for when this same argument comes up again next year… Look up the statistics, because statistics don’t lie.