OT - Team LeBron or Team MJ?

Submitted by trueblue262 on May 10th, 2018 at 10:59 AM

Reading up this morning on the GOAT debate over at ESPN, and was just curious to which camp you are all in? It maybe a generation thing, but I think MJ's path to success was more....."un-artficial" 

MJ didn't have "decisions" and hop around to teams to chase championships. He made his teamates better, not his situation better. What do you all think? 

Go Blue!



May 10th, 2018 at 11:01 AM ^

Jordan excelled during a time that was absolutly brutal.  Could you imagine what he could have done in the modern NBA?




May 10th, 2018 at 11:08 AM ^

Imagine a team with Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler all on the same team? (Dream Team) Thats what the top NBA teams have become

LeBron didn't earn shit! Lets see him go to Chicago Bulls team as is and see how he does



May 10th, 2018 at 12:10 PM ^

Dude, I hate to break it to you but you're wrong. 

The 93-94 Bulls without Jordan won 55 games. Pippen was 3rd in the MVP race and an all-star along with Armstrong and Grant.

Add Jordan to those teams.

Yep, Jordan did it all himself. 

Wolverine in The 614

May 10th, 2018 at 3:38 PM ^

If you remember back in the day Pippen used to complain about headaches when they went up against the Pistons in the playoffs - Mahorn had a habit of inducing them I'm sure.  But that's just quitting before it ever started.  Jordan dragged his ass into NBA manhood and the HOF.  Everything Pippen is comes from MJ getting it out of him.

It's a tough argument.  Bron Bron whines too much publicly for my tastes.  MJ just got it done. And if Jordan played today he'd be as physical a freak as any of the rest of today's players as would Pippen.  Neither would be built like Bron Bron, but they'd be able to handle today's NBA.


May 10th, 2018 at 9:59 PM ^

every day for years... There were twenty or thirty other players who would have developed into hall of famers in the same position. Far from having that kind of day to day effect on people, LeBron actually makes the all stars around him less great.


May 10th, 2018 at 1:13 PM ^

You mean like Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Michael Jordan?  Oh man, that would be terrifying.

If Jordan went to the Bulls, he'd have a pretty young, athletic group of players around him, including a budding star in LaVine, a couple of good shooters in Holliday and Markkanen, and about $40MM in cap space for 2018-2019 per sporttrac.  That's a pretty good roster you could definitely do some damage with.



May 10th, 2018 at 11:35 AM ^

Players today are light years more athletic than they were even 15 years ago. The game has changed in terms of spacing, three point shooting and stretch bigs that absolutely zero teams from that era would be able to adapt to. The Warriors would defeat any Jordan championship team in 5 games TOPS. 


A common defense to this argument is that players of the modern day game wouldn't be able to adapt to the physicality of the 80's/90's rules - which brings me back to the point that players of today's game are stronger and more athletic than ever before. Physicality would not be an issue in the slightest. 

Occam's Razor

May 10th, 2018 at 11:38 AM ^

People also forget that defenses these days are A LOT tougher in terms of double teaming and zone. 

Back in the 90s, you weren't even allowed to leave your man to double team without being hit with the old illegal defense rule. 


Jordan WOULD NOT nearly be as dominant today with the advent of the new 3-second defense rule allowing teams to double team and play more zone. 

The game is not nearly as iso oriented as it used to be even in the early 00s. 


May 10th, 2018 at 11:52 AM ^

I disagree, not many teams use much zone concept at all in the NBA, too many good shooters. The defensive 3 second rule was put in to open up the game and make it HARDER to play zone, and clear out the paint. You’re 100 percent correct about the iso factor though. Much more ball movement. But the scorers still get their buckets.

Occam's Razor

May 10th, 2018 at 12:12 PM ^

They don't use zone like we see in college obviously, but the threat of a double team vs no threat like in the illegal defense days changes A LOT. 

It puts the onus on the ball handler to make the correct decision pending on what he thinks the defense will do rather than an arbitrary rule dictating what the defense can and can't do. 


May 10th, 2018 at 11:52 AM ^

I disagree, not many teams use much zone concept at all in the NBA, too many good shooters. The defensive 3 second rule was put in to open up the game and make it HARDER to play zone, and clear out the paint. You’re 100 percent correct about the iso factor though. Much more ball movement. But the scorers still get their buckets.


May 10th, 2018 at 12:07 PM ^

Are you serious? Jordan played when hand checking was normal. He would get mauled by opposing defense. Sure he got a ton of calls as the best player, but LeBron never had to play against a Pistons type D. Moreover, the league was much smaller and had more parity. A second round series against Cleveland back then was no walk in the park.

Occam's Razor

May 10th, 2018 at 12:11 PM ^

He also played in an era that didn't allow shadowing for double teams. 

It's a lot easier to beat someone 1v1 or make the right pass on a hard double than know when to make the pass vs blow by someone if the team is shadowing you. 

At worst, hand checking and illegal defense cancels each other out. 


May 10th, 2018 at 12:37 PM ^

defense played in Jordan's era was superior to the defense that is played today.  While it may be "easier" to beat a man 1v1, often players were funneled one way or another to rim protectors that really do no exist in today's NBA.  On ball and point guard defense was also far superior and there were very, very few open looks even by the best players.  Defenses actually schemed to prevent teams from even getting into their halfcourt sets.  There are some good individual defenders in todays NBA but team defense is largely an afterthought. 

panthera leo fututio

May 10th, 2018 at 3:55 PM ^

This strikes me as almost exactly wrong. There were a lot of absolutely awful on-ball perimeter defenders back in the day (go to Basketball Reference, pick a random team from between 1985 and 1995, look at the 2s and 3s they had on their roster, and ask yourself how many you'd trust to check any starting wing in today's NBA).

With respect to rim protection, there were obviously some great shot blockers in the '80s, but 1) illegal defense rules allowed them to hang out by the rim and collect blocks to a much greater extent, 2) they collected a lot of easy blocks against the assortment of sitcom dads who were playing in the league at the time (the Brent Prices of the world), and 3) it was much easier to carve out a role as a rim protector back in the day because guarding the pick-and-role was *vastly* easier back then than it is now. In the modern NBA, you still have guys like Gobert and Porzingis with astronomical block rates, but every playoffs you see guys like Whiteside, Valanciunas, etc. turn into defensive liabilities because they struggle to get out to the 3pt line. Now imagine Mark Eaton in that role...

Extending from that, it's pretty clear that NBA defenses are actually quite a bit *more* sophisticated today in terms of rotations, switches, etc. Modern centers can shoot, the league as a whole is much more efficient in terms of shot spacing and selection, and defensive rules make it harder to play quasi-zone. Teams have adapted, and modern squads like the Celtics, Sixers, Jazz, Spurs are head-and-shoulders above where '80s teams were defensively.


May 10th, 2018 at 11:42 AM ^

You're arguing something that I didn't say. I said if you put MJ on any decent team today, he'd be demonstrably superior to LJ. I didn't say take the '96 bulls into the current league, though I may argue against your conclusion there too. Maybe. But that's not what I said. 

And I don't think players are much more athletic today either. Stronger, perhaps, and maybe better conditioned, but that isn't the same as more athletic. 


May 10th, 2018 at 1:45 PM ^

I wasn't direct, but was making the point that the teams of today are far too good for anyone to come in and dominate more than Lebron has. I don't think Jordan would be far off if he was on a team in the East, but saying he would be demonstrably superior to LJ is crazy. 


May 10th, 2018 at 10:09 PM ^

There are no rules or system to which he would not adapt. And he would be so far inside LeBron's head, LBJ would choke on his own medulla oblongata in every situation of any importance. Ask Charles Barkley. I guarantee that he understands the ins and outs of this better than any of us posting.

Yost Ghost

May 10th, 2018 at 4:21 PM ^


Mike had some guns.

He wasn't alone, Robinson, Rodman, Mourning, Pippen, Kemp, Malone, Starks, etc.They didn't all look like Bird or Miller.

Today you've got more players that look like LJ than you do that look like Nowtizki. Clearly that trend started in the 80's and 90's. I would agree that teams were more physical during MJ's era than they are today because of current defensive rules which placed more emphasis on the 3 ball (see Houston Rockets). I think MJ would thrive just as much today as he did because he had such a sweet outside J to go along with his inside game. I also think LJ would have been just as prolific as he is now had he played in the 90's.

Bottom line, MJ's game was slighlty more impressive than LJ's because he was just as dominate but he did it at 6'6" instead of 6'8".


May 10th, 2018 at 5:54 PM ^

Funny that you attempt comparing eras, yet leave out the overwhelming reason why today's athlete is of higher caliber than in the 90's.

Science, nutrition , technology and strength training have all improved significantly in the past 20 plus years.

Yeah, I'm sure those Jordan led Bulls teams of the 90s would do just fine in 2018 , providing they also had the current year's technological advancements.

Comparing eras is ludicrous.


May 10th, 2018 at 10:20 PM ^

Many are setting this as if Jordan's style would be the same now as in the 90s. I have no doubt that if playing now, Jordan would both be the greatest at whatever devastates current defenses, and would be developing better defense against whatever great offenses arose. There is a level of competitiveness and genius involved with MJ that just isn't available to LBJ. LBJ can do stuff... He just doesn't have all the requisite components to belong in the GOAT conversation... I wish y'all could have heard Charles Barkley talking about this last night...


May 10th, 2018 at 11:46 AM ^

Agreed. Also no one ever mentions the hand check rule. When MJ played you could be extremely physical on defense. Taking away that hand check rule was the first domino in making the NBA the high scoring, more free flowing game it is now. If prime MJ played today he’d average 35-40 points a night easily, as well as increase his rebounds and assists due to more possessions because of the higher pace of play. And I know he didn’t shoot a lot of 3’s, but is there any doubt he would have perfected that as well if he played in this era? This is all coming from a Knicks fan who HATED Jordan. LeBron deserves his due, he’ll likely finish as the second best ever, but he’s had too many “wtf” moments in his career. People forget not many years ago Jason Kidd and JJ Barrera were guarding him successfully in nba finals games (Heat Mavs series, 2010-2011 I believe).

Roy G. Biv

May 10th, 2018 at 12:00 PM ^

Jordan did just fine with protection from the rules. You were not allowed to defend him with the hands / body like you could any other player in the League. And conversely, all that could not be done against him he was given free rein to do himself.
I would agree with whomever above said Jordan had much better skill than LJ. But no one, ever IMO, has been the physical/athletic equal of LJ.


May 10th, 2018 at 12:07 PM ^

I’ll agree with u that LBJ is by far the most incredible athlete to play basketball, but as far as MJ getting all the calls? That happens with whoever the best players are in every era. It was MJ, then Kobe got all the calls, now LeBron gets all the calls. That’s just how it is.

Blue Ninja

May 10th, 2018 at 2:12 PM ^

Good points made on why Jordan is the better player. The defenses were better then, there was higher level of talent top to bottom because of less players and there were many more dominant big men in the league who would punish you for going inside.

More than anything, I think the part people miss is that Jordan had that killer instinct, ice flowed through his veins and he would do whatever it took to beat you. He wanted to win, plain and simple. Along with that he liked to get into his opponents heads. LBJ likes to win, he's a great talent and player, but I've never heard anyone say he has that "win no matter what" mentality. When the game is on the line you knew Jordan would get the ball, its not always the case with LBJ. Yes, he has learned to carry a team on his shoulders but Jordan was doing that from the get go. Remember, in LBJ's first Cav's stint the knock was that he couldn't carry a team, clearly he has learned to carry a team but I'm not so sure he has the same killer instinct as Jordan did.

Another thing about Jordan, whenever he was criticized for a flaw in his game, he would work on it until it became a strength. For instance, when he came into the league he was all offense and no defense. I remember him being roundly criticized for it. He worked on it over the summer a couple of years into the league and before long he was transformed into a Defensive MVP. If nothing else its the intangibles that make Jordan the GOAT over LBJ, who in his own right is a great player. The next question is: LBJ or Wilt? 


May 10th, 2018 at 1:14 PM ^

It's all about context. Almost Every team had a superstar back then-Celtics had Bird, Hawks had Domenique, Pistons had Zeke, Sixers had Dr J & Barkley, Heat had Zo, Rockets had the Dream and the Glide, Lakers goes without saying....it wasn't just 2 or 3 teams with all the great players


May 10th, 2018 at 1:20 PM ^

What parity?  In 1991 the 8th seed in the West was 41-41, and in the East it was the 39-42 Knicks.  1992 had the 38-44 Heat as #8 and the broken-down laters were 43-39 in the West.  8 teams won 50+ games that year, which is the same number as this year.  

The NBA is much better overall than it was during Jordan's run.  The players are more athletic, the offenses and defenses much more sophisticated, and health/nuitrition and analytics have made player development better.  Jordan would be great in any era, but as an old person myself I am astounded by the revisionist history BS that people spout off about the current NBA.  It's why I sort of cringe when I hear people (including, weirdly, Brian) talk about the NBA and realize they legit watched for about 4 years when the Pistons where making the finals in the early 00's and otherwise seems to believe the game didn't evolve since then.

panthera leo fututio

May 10th, 2018 at 3:08 PM ^

I think the exact opposite holds: if LeBron faced the defenses that Jordan faced day in and day out, he'd put up 45 points a game. Seriously, when's the last time you went back and watched extended game film from the mid/late 80s? There were plenty of all-time greats at work back then, but *a lot* of the guys checking Jordan wouldn't sniff an NBA roster today, and they wouldn't sniff a roster because they were terrible, terrible defenders.



May 10th, 2018 at 11:04 AM ^

Nobody who is not basing their argument off of pure nostalgia would argue that MJ is better than Lebron. It’s just foolish. LBJ would embarrass MJ.

Okay, that’s the bomb I’m lobbing into this thread, see ya!