Walter Fields, 23 Sports

Ever since LeBron earned his second title, there has been this constant question that surrounds James whenever his name is brought up in any discussion. Is he the G.O.A.T.? The question is brought up constantly when talking about The King and His Airness, LeBron James and Michael Jordan. For the longest time no basketball player had come close to being in the conversation with Jordan, but James is the first ever player that created the question of who is the best. The majority of people will say that Jordan is that much better than James, and LeBron critics will constantly bring up the fact that Michael was six for six in the NBA Finals and that he never had to go to a game seven. Everyone makes the argument that LeBron’s record in the finals is now an abysmal three and six, but that is still nine NBA Finals appearances. Jordan only went to six Finals. Now, I understand that Michael has more rings, but he still never went to nine Finals, let alone eight straight. Personally, I think that there is no debate between the two athletes. Not because I think that one is better than the other, but I personally believe that the two players are uncomparable due to the fact that they are coming from two drastically different basketball eras.

Jordan played in a league where the Eastern Conference was the dominant conference. When he made it through his side of the playoff bracket and by the time his Chicago Bulls teams made it to the Finals they had already played the best teams. In Jordan’s era the Eastern Conference was by far the stronger conference. With teams like the Atlanta Hawks and Dominique Wilkins, the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons, the Indiana Pacers and sharpshooter Reggie Miller, and even Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks, Jordan’s Bulls were already battle tested by the time the NBA Finals came around. However, in LeBron’s case, the dominant conference resided in the West. With the rise of the Golden State Warriors it has made it nearly impossible for LeBron to take any team to the promised land. The Western Conference is loaded with championship caliber teams. We all know the Golden State Warriors are quite possibly the next dynasty in the NBA, but we also have the James Harden led Houston Rockets who were a Chris Paul injury away from making the NBA Finals. These top tier teams alone make it that much more difficult for LeBron and any other Eastern Conference team to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. Meanwhile, the East is separated by LeBron and the Cavs, for the moment, and the rest of the pack. Even with the rise of teams like the young, upstart Philadelphia 76ers and the resurgence of the Boston Celtics, the west still seems like the dominant conference. When Jordan played in his era, the three ball was never really used. No one shoots the ball like they do now. Not to say that Jordan and the players in his era couldn’t shoot the basketball, it is just that nowadays kids are brought up to be able to stretch the floor. The modern-day game almost requires all players on the floor to be able to shoot, whereas in the 90s the game was more about going to the paint and scoring that way. Also in the 90s basketball players were tougher. Fouls we see in games today that are considered “flagrant” do not even come close to what a flagrant foul would be in the late 80s through the 90s.

There are so many different things about each era where Jordan and James came from. Both of them have had legendary careers and both have had amazing accomplishments. However, when it comes to the debate of which one is the best I do not think there is any debate to be had. From the different eras that they came from you physically cannot compare the two players, and as great as they are there is no G.O.A.T., but they will both go down in NBA history as two of the most decorated basketball players in the history of the game.