In spite of a lack of support, LeBron James has had an incredible run in the 2018 playoffs, bringing back the question: who's better, LeBron or Michael?
We still have to stick with Michael for a few reasons.
First, take Paolo from Brazil, a reporter who had a fun exchange with LeBron in the post-game press conference Friday night.
He said that LeBron had “always” been good in the clutch and LeBron was so surprised that he asked his name.
The contrast with Jordan is obvious.
Jordan hit the winning shot for the 1982 NCAA championship on at team with James Worthy and Sam Perkins.
In the NBA he immediately began to show a nearly pathological competitive urge. He didn’t have enough talent around him to win big so he tried to win by himself.
When the talent improved, and he had a coach in Phil Jackson who understood him, things changed. No one doubted the Bulls would win, least of all their opponents.
That’s still not the case in the Boston-Cleveland series. No one assumes Cleveland is a sure thing, even now.
No one ever thought Jordan would lose a Game 7.
As for the teammate thing, the Bulls put a solid group around Jordan but it wasn't freakishly good.
He did have Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and Ron Harper early on, but he also had guys like Bill Cartwright, Luc Longley and Steve Kerr.
Later he and Pippen had Toni Kukoc and Dennis Rodman, but Rodman could be trouble in a lot of ways.
It’s not like he went looking for a good team either. The Bulls built around him and he won with what they had.
LeBron has moved up to the point where this conversation is inevitable and even guys like JJ Redick give the edge to James.
We aren’t ready for that. He’s magnificent, he’s incredibly smart and he is resourceful.
But Jordan had something that few people have and that LeBron had to learn.
We watched a documentary a while back on Richard Kuklinski, aka the Iceman, a mafia hit man who possibly killed hundreds of people.
One of the people involved in the show was a doctor who explained to Kuklinski that he had a gene which meant that he didn’t feel fear like a normal person.
In his case, the doctor said, with his various dark influences, he became a remorseless killer.
In better situations though, the doctor explained, you could use that trait for better purposes. Take Michael Jordan for instance, he said, speculating that Jordan felt no fear either.
That always seemed right to us. Combine that with the greatest competitive urge we’ve ever seen and no one was going to be Jordan.
And we don’t think LeBron could either. A lot of people don't remember or never knew this, but in college, Jordan blocked a hook shot - by 7-4 Ralph Sampson.
Even now with LeBron there is uncertainty. There never was with Jordan and certainly never in a Game 7.
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