The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

MJ versus LJ

The never-ending debate
LeBron James won an Olympic gold medal with Team USA in London.

LeBron James won an Olympic gold medal with Team USA in London. (AP)

Ever since Michael Jordan stepped a single gravity-defying foot off the parquet for the final and third time, sports fans have sought out the heir apparent to “His Airness.”

Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant have all had their opportunity to become the “next Jordan,” yet none were able to match MJ’s 1992 campaign of winning league MVP, the NBA Championship, Finals MVP and an Olympic gold medal all in the same season – until LeBron James did so this year.

While it is unrealistic and inconclusive to compare James’ and Jordan’s career achievements at this point, it is possible to compare King James’ success in 2012 to MJ’s in 1992.

Jordan won his first NBA title and Finals MVP in 1991 against the Magic Johnson led Lakers, alleviating the pressure he faced in 1992 when he earned his second title and Finals MVP award.

In ’92, Jordan averaged a cool 35.8 points per game to lead the Bulls to victory against a Clyde Drexler led Trail Blazers defense that ranked third in points allowed per 100 possessions.

Jordan’s supporting cast was built mainly through the Draft as opposed to the Heat’s accumulation of the “Big Three.”
This explains why Jordan was able to focus mainly on producing points, yet he still averaged a team-high 6.5 assists and 1.7 steals in the finals.

In 2012, James experienced unparalleled scrutiny. Yes, James brought much of this pressure upon himself thanks to the debacle known as “The Decision,” but he has since displayed a resiliency that enables him to bounce back from his mistakes.

LeBron may have disappeared in the fourth quarter of each and every one of the six games in the 2011 NBA Finals, but why take credit away from a deserving Dallas Mavericks team that developed a defensive strategy that put him in a position to fail?

Take a look at the this year’s Finals: James learned from last year that he couldn’t let the Thunder’s defensive strategy dictate his playing style when the game was on the line. which He scored more points in the fourth quarter of the first three games in 2012 than he did in all six fourth quarters in 2011.

Even a Cavalier fan must respect James’ ability to lead his team in points, rebounds and assists en route to his first NBA championship.

The 1992 and 2012 Olympics are where the similarities are most apparent. Although Jordan was not the Dream Team’s most dominant player on offense (Charles Barkley was) the nine-time NBA All-Defensive team selection proved to be the most versatile player on the court when he eventually shut down Tony Kuko of Croatia in the gold medal match.

Kevin Durant proved to be Team USA’s most potent offensive weapon in this years’ Olympics, however it was LeBron James that was the catalyst for the USA’s success.

In the preliminary round, Team USA needed a dominant three-minute stretch from James to overcome a traditionally problematic Lithuania team.

James’ averages of 13.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and assists per game may not have been team highs, but he played a necessary role similar to Jordan’s in 1992.

LeBron’s maturity was on display in the post-game interview of the gold medal game, when Craig Sager attempted to put the spotlight on LeBron’s achievements in the past year. James deflected the attention instead to the three letters on his chest: U.S.A.

There will never be an undisputed answer to the title of “greatest ever.” For now we can only marvel and appreciate the accomplishments of two of the finest athletes the United States has ever produced. As players, the two could not be more unique, and thus is the beauty of sports: the never-ending debate.

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