Jordan is widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time, and James the only player in the game today who could one day overtake Jordan for the honor.
We can only imagine what a game of one-on-one between these two basketball titans would have been like, had they both reached their pinnacle at the same time.
Let's take a hypothetical look into who would have the edge in each aspect of this epic clash, with the winner of the most categories coming out on top:
It's hard to compete with a 6-foot-8-inch, 250-pound physical specimen that moves with the body control of a yoga teacher.
As athletic as Jordan was, James is just a freak of nature when it comes to size, speed and vertical leap. James could likely train for a month and dominate the NFL with his ability to jump and grab passes over any helpless defender.
If James got a step past Jordan toward the basket, it would be nearly impossible to catch up to him. Even if he did, what could Jordan really do?
Jordan may not have James' athletic build, but he makes up for it in his ability to put the ball in the basket.
Jordan led the NBA in scoring a whopping 10 times. James has achieved that honor just once. Jordan's career-best scoring average was 37.1 points per game in 1986-87, just his third season. James has topped out at 31.4 points, also in his third year.
Neither player has been especially efficient from behind the three-point line, as both excel at driving past their man and getting to the basket. Both have career averages of under 34 percent, a pretty average mark for a wing player in today's NBA. Jordan's best three-point percentage was 42.7 percent, at age 32. James enjoyed his best mark this past season, hitting 40.6 percent at age 28.
Jordan just had a knack for scoring, while James has taken greater pride in setting up teammates and sometimes deferring in key moments. In this game, unfortunately for James, there would be no other options to pass to. Advantage, Jordan.
Both players have proved to be remarkably strong defenders throughout their careers.
While Jordan was named to the All-Defensive First Team nine times, even he may have trouble guarding James. Jordan would have to sacrifice 2 inches and about 40 pounds to James, making him increasingly difficult to guard, especially in the post.
James, on the other hand, has shown the ability to guard four different positions with his size and athleticism. He came into the league with the Cleveland Cavaliers as a point guard, but has spent most of his career at small forward.
Given their size differential, James easily wins the defensive battle.
Another tough category to call, so we'll refer to the numbers.
Jordan never racked up the assist numbers that James has, but he also never turned the ball over as often, either.
For his career, Jordan averaged 2.7 turnovers per game, or 2.6 per 36 minutes. James has coughed the ball up 3.3 times per game, or 3.0 per 36 minutes.
This a close matchup, but sometimes being a little smaller means being a better ball-handler as well. Given his handles, lower turnover numbers and size, Jordan wins this round.
The fifth and final category comes down to desire.
In a game like this, who would want it more?
The answer has to be Jordan. Perhaps no player in the history of the NBA, or professional sports in general, has been as determined to win as Jordan. The owner of six championship rings, Jordan never lost in an NBA Finals. Actually, he never even let the other team force a Game 7.
James, on the other hand, has had his clutch factor called in to question in the past. He lost his first two NBA Finals appearances before finally winning the last two with the Miami Heat.
In an interview with ESPN, James gave some insight into his past Finals struggles, saying; "I definitely didn't play up to the potential I knew I was capable of playing at, so you could make any assessment -- I froze, I didn't show up..."
Could you imagine Jordan making such a statement? The mental edge and desire definitely go to Jordan.
Final score: Jordan 3, James 2.
Winner: Michael Jordan
- Sports & Recreation
- Michael Jordan
- LeBron James