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Why LeBron Is Not The Next MJ

Posted by Condo on May 22, 2007


Anyone who watched the game between Detroit and Cleveland last night realized two things. Number one, that “Leastern” Conference basketball is absolutely dreadful to watch. And number two, LeBron James yet again passed up a chance to take the game tying/winning shot by driving to the lane and kicking it out to Donyell Marshall, who missed a chance at a game winning 3 point shot and took away Cleveland’s shot at stealing Game 1 in Detroit.

This is obviously not the first time that LeBron has decided to “pass out” to an open teammate with the game on the line. There have been numerous other times where he has passed the ball out to someone like Damon Jones, Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall, and hell, even Eric Snow, who is the worst jump shooter of all time for a guard! After seeing this, yet again, and hearing some arguing lately about the comparisons that LeBron is not as good as MJ, I’ve come to the conclusion, LeBron is NOT MJ.

Here’s the deal, I love LeBron, I am not knocking him as a player in any way, shape, or form, but in order to be the next MJ, you have to be willing in crunch time to say: “alright I want the ball in my hands no matter the situation and I want to score the bucket.” LeBron is too unselfish and lacks the “killer instinct” to want to do that on a consistent basis. I believe LeBron compares more to someone like Magic Johnson than Michael Jordan and let me explain some reasons why:

Number one, both Magic and LeBron are bigger guys with LeBron standing 6’8 and Magic standing at around 6’9 and both played more of the “point forward” position which is basically a small forward handling the point guard duties. Number two, both had/have the floor vision and the knack for making passes that most point guards don’t even see to make. Three, neither of them have the “all-around” games to win a title alone without another big time play maker. Magic never won an NBA title without Kareem and obviously LeBron has no titles to this point in his career. You could make the argument that LeBron has nobody and Michael had Scottie before he started to win titles, which is true. LeBron has no real big time player and you really need that “supporting player” to win titles, but Scottie was nothing in his career without Michael and I honestly feel that Larry Hughes is NEAR the same level as Scottie was in Chicago.

Also, Michael won the Defensive player of the year award in 1988 and was a 9-time first team All-NBA defender. LeBron has yet to show that defensive prowess and Magic was never anything special on the defensive end either. Start adding all of this stuff up, and you can start to see where LeBron is much more comparable to Magic than he is to Michael.

Really the two key differences that LeBron and Michael have are this: LeBron is unselfish and lacks a killer instinct. Michael was born with the killer instinct and was selfish. Not too selfish to where he didn’t make his teammates better, but selfish in that he ALWAYS was looking for his shot and LeBron does not always do that.

I hope that LeBron gets a little bit better supporting cast and wins a title in his time with Cleveland. He has done many great things for the franchise and the city in his four seasons there. He’s only 22 years old and ultimately will be a matter of time before he wins a title. He’s too good of a player to not win one. But just remember, don’t compare him to MJ, because MJ he is not and MJ he will never be.

But, there’s nothing wrong at all with being the next Magic Johnson.


4 Responses to “Why LeBron Is Not The Next MJ”

  1. Charlie Hustle said

    I have a few problems here…

    1. If Donyell Marshall hits that 3, then nobody is talking about how LeBron sucks today or isn’t Michael Jordan or whatever. If the shot goes in, James finishes with a triple-double. The rule in NBA playoff basketball is always go for the win on the road, the tie at home.

    2. LeBron takes plenty of shots at crunch time. How quickly people forget the playoff series last year against Washington where he and Arenas went wild. LeBron had 2 game-winning shots in that series but you know who clinched it with a 3 at the buzzer? Damon Jones.

    3. Ever notice Michael started winning more championships when he did start passing the ball in crunch time? Yes he hit many, many game winning shots, but Donyell Marshall shot a wide-open 3 just like John Paxson and Steve Kerr (2pter) did to ice championship games. So LeBron shouldn’t have but MJ should’ve? Remember, there’s never a right time to do the wrong thing. It’s simply a double standard.

    4. And the biggest whopper of them all… “Larry Hughes is NEARLY same level as Scottie Pippen.”

    First of all… Larry Hughes has only played 70+ games in a season 3 times so it’s competely unfair to compare the 2… but we will anyway…

    Larry Hughes (Career): 41% FGpct, 15.2ppg, 4.6 rebs, 3.4 assists

    (This year, 28 yrs old): 40%FGpct, 14.9ppg, 3.8rebs, 3.7 assists

    Scottie Pippen (Career): 47%FGpct, 16.1 ppg, 6.4 rebs, 5.2 assists*

    (28 yrs old, MVP): 49%FGpct, 22ppg, 8.7 rebs, 5.6 assists

    *Including 6 seasons past his prime after Chicago where he averaged less than 11ppg.

    Larry Hughes –
    All-NBA Defense 1st team (2004-2005)

    Scottie Pippen –

    1989-90 NBA
    1991-92 NBA
    1992-93 NBA
    1993-94 NBA
    1994-95 NBA
    1995-96 NBA
    1996-97 NBA

    1990-91 NBA All-Defense (2nd)
    1991-92 NBA All-Defense (1st)
    1991-92 NBA All-NBA (2nd)
    1992-93 NBA All-Defense (1st)
    1992-93 NBA All-NBA (3rd)
    1993-94 NBA All-Defense (1st)
    1993-94 NBA All-NBA (1st)
    1994-95 NBA All-Defense (1st)
    1994-95 NBA All-NBA (1st)
    1995-96 NBA All-Defense (1st)
    1995-96 NBA All-NBA (1st)
    1996-97 NBA All-Defense (1st)
    1996-97 NBA All-NBA (2nd)
    1997-98 NBA All-Defense (1st)
    1997-98 NBA All-NBA (3rd)
    1998-99 NBA All-Defense (1st)
    1999-00 NBA All-Defense (2nd)

    1993-94 NBA AS MVP

    Named one of Top 50 players of all-time by the NBA.

    And according to….

    Probability of Hall of Fame:
    Larry Hughes: .002
    Scottie Pippen: .996

    Larry Hughes will never even be in the same gym as Scottie Pippen. The numbers don’t lie.

    Gotta bring the mustard a little bit better than that Condo. All in good fun though.

    — Charlie Hustle

  2. Condo said

    I’m not criticizing James for passing the ball last night, in fact, I thought it was the right decision because of what you said “play for the win on the road, tie at home”. But how many times do you see him give up the ball instead of taking the big shot? How many times do you see him at the foul line late in a game and miss? Again, the possession before Marshall misses the 3, LeBron had post position on Tayshaun Prince and instead of utilizing it faster and going to the spin and to the hoop and drawing a foul… he stands there for WAY too long and then passes to Z who misses a 20 foot jump shot. If not for Hughes hustling in and getting it back out for Cleveland to call time out and draw up a new play… Detroit has the ball, goes to the line, and people yell at James for kicking it to Z for the a long 2 point shot.

    I LOVE Pippen, and he’s a great player, and I definitely made a stretch by saying that Hughes was nearly as good. But after Michael left the first time, if Pippen was THAT good, his stats would’ve increased much more and he would’ve become “the guy” but he obviously did not. (See refusing to go back in late in the game in the 94 playoffs) Jordan made Pippen a better player by freeing him up on the offensive end. To say Hughes will never be in the same gym as Scottie Pippen, I’m not 100% sure of that statement, but Pippen is better than I gave him credit for.

    LeBron lacks the killer instinct Jordan had and is MUCH more unselfish. How often when his team looks lethargic does LeBron try to and take over a game the way Jordan did? Not NEARLY as often. I agree with your statement that Jordan had other people hit big shots in clutch time (Steve Kerr, John Paxson) when they started winning titles… but LeBron doesn’t have those kind of guys on his squad that you KNOW will hit the shot nearly every time you kick it to them especially in the clutch. Nearly every time the playoffs came around Jordan hit a big shot (or 6) to carry his team in a game during the playoffs (i.e 1998 NBA Finals). The two shots you refer to (Steve Kerr game 6 1997 NBA Finals, John Paxson game 6 1993 NBA Finals) clinched NBA Finals, but what about all the other games in between in those playoffs?

    If you want to try to compare LeBron to MJ, then you can say the jury is still out because LeBron has not been in NEARLY as many playoff series as Jordan was and maybe doesn’t have quite the help MJ did. But I just think comparing LeBron to MJ is comparing apples to oranges and Magic is a much better person to compare LeBron to.

    All in good fun Charlie.

  3. Charlie Hustle said

    First of all…
    Zydrunas “I can’t guard a chair” Ilgauskas – 8 pts in 4th quarter

    Larry Hughes – 2 pts in 4th quarter…

    I would have passed it to Z too. Hughes “hustled” his way to a 4-13 FG performance.

    2. ….”But after Michael left the first time, if Pippen was THAT good, his stats would’ve increased much more and he would’ve become “the guy” but he obviously did not.”

    Jordan missed the 93-94 season. Scottie Pippen was the NBA MVP that year. He went from 18 pts, 7 rebs, and 2 steals in ’92-’93, to 22-8-3 in ’93-’94. I’m not sure how else he could have become “the guy” besides winning the MVP.

    The fact that you’re missing all together is that LeBron at this point isn’t as good as either MJ or Magic. His hype is better. His stats and overall play aren’t.

    Age 22 (Playoffs):

    LeBron 2007 –
    AVG 24 pts, 8 rebs, 8 assists 41%FG
    (Cavs Regular Season 50-32)

    MJ 1986 –
    AVG 44 pts, 6 rebs, 6 assists 51%FG
    (Bulls Reg Season record 30-52)

    Magic 1982 –
    AVG 17 pts, 11 rebs, 9 assists 51% FG
    (Lakers Reg Season record 57-32… Won NBA Championship)

    Magic and MJ were superior players at LeBron’s age. Jordan had FAR superior scoring on a worse team, and Magic led his team to a championship with better overall statistics and a similar regular season record. LeBron is just simply a different player in a different era.

    But lacking a killer instinct? Please refer to the following links from last year’s playoffs…



    I mean really. It was last year. Not that long ago.

  4. Condo said

    Not taking anything away from LeBron passing to Z on that particular play… he was shooting well but 20 feet and beyond is not necessarily Z’s “Shot”

    Secondly, LeBron had the “post position on Tayshaun” and just kept dribbling the ball waiting for a double team which never came.

    Pippen won an MVP in a season that was not exactly strong on talent. As most of the other “stud” players were reaching the twilight’s of their career. Put Pippen’s stats that season in just about any other season and I would doubt he’d wins an MVP.

    You may be right about LeBron not being at the level of Magic or MJ… I’m just saying he’s a player that is more comparable to Magic than MJ. The biggest point of my article.

    And I don’t care if he made a couple of game winning layups against the Wizards last season, where was he in Game 6 and Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi’s last season when they had Detroit on the ropes? MJ would’ve been throwing the final uppercut blow, LeBron did not. Enough said.

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