The Great Debate


Staff writer

The debate of all debates isn’t who is the best president, which war was the greatest or dumbest for the United States of America to enter, or which is better, Coke or Pepsi.

Since 2003 when LeBron James came into the NBA, the most argued debate has been who is the greatest of all time (GOAT), Michael Jordan or James?

Obviously, it took some time for James to put up the numbers or win a few championships before the debate became real, but the clear talent and physical ability was there for James to be one of the best ever.

And he is.

Just not the best.

I’ll put my biases aside since I’ve always lived in northern Illinois or southern Wisconsin. I was born in 1985 and began watching the NBA and remembering it during the Chicago Bulls’ first three-peat.

In 1996 when they won the first championship of the second three-peat, I was 11 and had two Jordan jerseys and a Bulls Starter jacket. I didn’t get my first pair of Jordan shoes until I was 12 after my stepfather told me I had to get a job if I wanted expensive shoes. I had them seven months later after I picked up two newspaper routes and was extra nice to the sweet older ladies during Christmas bonus season.

Biases aside, let’s get to the numbers.

Congratulations to LeBron James for becoming the NBA All-Time regular season scoring leader as he has 38,450 as of Monday, March 6.

He passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 career regular season points on Feb. 8 when he scored 38 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Great record to have and it shows his talent and durability to take.

Key word is durability.

It took him 20 years.

When Jordan retired after a 14-year career, he was third on the list with 32,292 points with 1,072 games and 41,010 minutes played.

LeBron has played in 1,413 games and has logged 53,833 minutes to acquire his 38,450 points.

If Jordan played an extra 341 games (the number of games LeBron has played more than MJ) averaging his NBA record, 30.12 points per game during the regular season, that would give Jordan an extra 10,271 points, which would put him at 42,563 points.

Where LeBron was able to go to the NBA straight out of high school, Jordan and Kareem were not allowed.

Kareem scored 2,325 points at UCLA. If those carried over to the big league, he would be at 40,712 points. Jordan scored 1,788 at North Carolina.

This would put LeBron at third without me going into a debate about Karl Malone, currently third on the list or many others.

If we are talking playoffs and championships, we already know Michael Jordan has six rings and was the finals MVP for all six.

He didn’t have to jump around to different teams or make “The Decision” to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to go play with his friends on the Miami Heat.

Jordan was drafted by the Bulls and stayed with the Bulls until his second retirement and then played with the team he had ownership in, which makes sense.

LeBron chased rings and has still fallen short six times. The man has been to the finals 10 times with super teams he has created and has only won four championships. And one of them was during the COVID-19 bubble.

Is LeBron one of the greatest athletes we’ve seen? Yes.

Is he a great ambassador for the NBA? Yes.

Is he an icon and on the Mount Rushmore of the NBA? Yes.

Is he the recipient of a longevity award? Yes.

Is he the GOAT? No.

If Jordan would have played 20 years, this wouldn’t even be a discussion, let alone a debate.