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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 21, 2017

Sorry, Scottie, but MJ’s the real king

By Travis J. Brown | Jun 14, 2011
Travis J. Brown

I agree with one of Michael Jordan’s former teammates. But not the other.

LeBron James is not a better basketball player than Michael Jordan.

After LeBron’s Miami Heat knocked off the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals, former Jordan teammate Scottie Pippen said that Jordan “is probably the greatest scorer to play the game” but James “may be the greatest player to ever play the game.”

Balderdash. Some of the chalk from LeBron’s pre-game powder toss must have gotten into Pippen’s eyes. LeBron isn’t even the best player currently playing the game. That honor has to go to Kobe Bryant. And LeBron might not even be the best player on his team, as he, like Pippen was to Jordan, played sidekick to teammate Dwayne Wade during the NBA Finals.

So when former Jordan teammate Steve Kerr compared James to Pippen during an ESPN radio show on Monday morning, he was spot on.

“The irony to me is that LeBron is not Michael,” Kerr said. “LeBron is actually Scottie.”

I can’t even believe this was a question before the NBA Finals. And now that the season is over, with the Dallas Mavericks holding the Larry O’Brien trophy while LeBron is still ringless, the answer is obvious. LeBron doesn’t deserve to carry MJ’s Nikes.

Michael Jordan never would have quit on his team in the playoffs (as LeBron did last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers). Michael Jordan never would have chosen to play with his rivals instead of against them. And Michael Jordan never would have wilted in the fourth quarter of NBA Finals games (as LeBron did this year, scoring 18 total points in six fourth quarters). Can you really see MJ passing off rather than hitting that game-winner over Bryon Russell in the 1998 Finals?

This isn’t to say that LeBron couldn’t still become the best basketball player ever. He could. He has the talent. Michael Jordan failed many times in his career, too, and he became better for it. LeBron has a lot of work to do. He needs to develop a post game and he needs to work on his jump shot. He also has a lot to prove. King James will need to win a lot of championships if he wants to unseat the real king.

Until then, he’s just a modern-day Scottie Pippen.

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