Can LeBron be Heir to the Air?
The first time I picked up a basketball I was hooked. I love this game more then I can describe, even though I was featured in SI for football and not basketball. I feel blessed that as a child I was able to watch the greatest player to ever play the game. I remember my dad telling me we will never see anyone in our lifetime as good and refined as Michael Jordan. I believed that statement up until the day I was privileged enough to step on the court with a then 17 year old boy that just graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. Of course I’m talking about the reigning MVP of the league, LeBron James. I have to say that I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to my basketball career. My final game was played in the Schottenstein Center on the Campus of THE Ohio State University. We were in the Ohio High School Basketball Final Four in front of 20,000 fans who I am sure were there to see the Poland Seminary Bulldogs instead of the man-child they called the Chosen One. Now that you have a little background about me, let’s get to the point. When it’s all said and done, who is going to be consider the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT)?
Jordan, 6’6” 215lbs, could do anything he wanted on the court and there wasn’t a person, alien or any kind of species on the planet that could stop him (which he proved in Space Jam). Mike had every offensive skill set in the book. By far his go to move was the fade away jump shot (i.e. putting points on Craig Ehlo’s face). His fade away was like watching and artist go to work on his canvas, it was a thing of beauty! Jordan’s nickname was Air Jordan and for a good reason. Everybody really thought he could fly after watching him win the 86-87 and 87-88 slam dunk competitions. Jordan’s accomplished everything there is to accomplish in a basketball career and everyone (including myself) thought that no one would ever be able to match his skill set and achievements. Equally important was the way MJ carried himself which in turn made him the most marketable athlete in the world. I must have sung the song “Like Mike” a million times… shit I’m singing it right now in my head. A phenomenal athlete with a unique combination of fundamental soundness, grace, speed, power, artistry, improvisational ability and an unquenchable competitive desire, Jordan single-handedly redefined the NBA superstar.
When I think of LeBron James I can almost picture God saying to the basketball world “So you wanna be like Mike? Wait till you meet the Chosen One…”. This Man-Child is a physical specimen that coaches and opposing players can only dream of. At 6’9” 260lbs, James is the King of the court. The fastest player I have ever seen baseline to baseline and when the L-train gets two steps on you, you better believe theirs going to be lift off(just ask KG or Tim Duncan). There’s not a flaw in his game, he’s bigger, stronger, faster, and smarter along with a better passer and decisions maker than most point guards in the league. LeBrons a guy who does an interview live on TV and hits a half court underhanded shot with one take, I mean come on really? He’s the reason the chemistry in Cleveland is by far the best of any team. At only 24 years old LeBron is forcing the keepers of the history books to order mass amounts of erasers. He’s created hype around the NBA that hasn’t been seen since the era of Jordan’s Bulls. LBJ and his teammates have invented a pregame routine that fans look forward to seeing just as much as the game itself. We are all witnessing what some day could be the greatest player to ever play this game of basketball and it’s only the beginning. The rest of LeBrons book (scary that he is only 6 chapters in) is blank pages that throughout the years will be filled with achievement after achievement, Slam Dunk Champion, Defensive Player of the Year, multiple MVP’s along with final MVP’s and finally the greatest achievement of all, multiple NBA championships! WITH CLEVELAND!! Let me point out that these are all awards already in Jordan’s trophy case. Just in case someone’s been living under a rock for the past 23 (get it?) years.
With all of that being said, I am not here to argue that LeBron is better than MJ. No one in the history of sport should argue that. What I am simply stating is that it is not irrational to think that LBJ will be held on a pedestal just as high (if not higher) than Michael himself. He has certainly gotten the first 6 years of his career right and just seems to be getting better and stronger every year. So, in 10 years from now when DiLo is finally eligible to run for President, and someone brings up the best player in NBA history, what is your answer going to be? I can almost assuredly tell you that your options will be King James or Air Jordan.