Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James After 14 Seasons

LeBron James just ended his 14th season in the NBA, so it’s time to make another comparison between him and the Great Michael Jordan like I did 3 years ago. To be efficient, we’ll take their first 14th seasons because MJ played during 15 seasons.

Before starting, I would like to thank basketball-reference.com to give us all the numbers we want and need to do this kind of work.

 

Accomplishments

Championships:

MJ: 6 in 6 appearances

LBJ: 3 in 8 appearances

Finals MVPs:

MJ: 6

LBJ: 3

MVPs:

MJ: 5 (’88, ’91, ’92, ’96 & ’98)

LBJ: 4 (’09, ’10, ’12 & ’13)

All-Star MVPs:

MJ: 3

LBJ: 2

All-Star Games:

MJ: 13

LBJ: 13

Rookie of the Year:

MJ: 1

LBJ: 1

Defensive Player of the Year:

MJ: 1

LBJ: 0

All NBA 1st Team:

MJ: 11

LBJ: 13

All NBA Defensive 1st Team:

MJ: 9

LBJ: 6

Slam Dunk Contests:

MJ: 2

LBJ: 0

Scoring Titles:

MJ: 11

LBJ: 1

Steals Titles:

MJ: 3

LBJ: 0

PER Titles:

MJ: 7

LBJ: 6

Win Shares Titles :

MJ: 9

LBJ: 5

Usage Percentage :

MJ: 8

LBJ: 1

As we can see, Michael Jordan won 3 more championships than LeBron James even if he played 2 less NBA Finals.

Individually, MJ dominates in every type of title.

LeBron James only does it better in All-NBA 1st team selection.

lebron-james-michael-jordan.vresize.1200.675.high_.49

Career

Note: All the statistics are “per game”

Points:

MJ: 31.0

LBJ: 27.1

Rebounds:

MJ: 6.2

LBJ: 7.3

Assists:

MJ: 5.4

LBJ: 7.0

Steals:

MJ: 2.4

LBJ: 1.6

Blocks:

MJ: 0.9

LBJ: 0.8

Turnovers:

MJ: 2.8

LBJ: 3.4

Minutes:

MJ: 38.4

LBJ: 38.9

Field Goals %:

MJ: 50.0%

LBJ: 50.1%

3PT Field Goals %:

MJ: 32.8%

LBJ: 34.2%

Free Throws %:

MJ: 83.6%

LBJ: 74.0%

PER :

MJ: 28.6

LBJ: 27.6

 

Win Shares:

MJ: 207.8

LBJ: 205.4

Offensive WS:

MJ: 147.0

LBJ: 143.9

Defensive WS:

MJ: 60.7

LBJ: 61.5

We can see that Jordan is clearly a better scorer and defensive player than LeBron. King James is a better passer and rebounder. They are equal in FG%, LeBron James is a little better than MJ from deep but Jordan is more efficient from the free throw line.

Michael Jordan has a better ball usage with less turnovers than LeBron James.

The big difference between them is the win shares. Michael Jordan Jordan has 2+ win shares than LeBron James but only in 990 games. James played 1061 games in 14 seasons.

Now, let’s take a look on Playoffs stats.

jordan-lebron-uproxx

Playoffs

Note: All the statistics are “per game”

Points:

MJ: 33.4

LBJ: 28.4

Rebounds:

MJ: 6.4

LBJ: 8.9

Assists:

MJ: 5.7

LBJ: 6.9

Steals:

MJ: 2.1

LBJ: 1.8

Blocks:

MJ: 0.9

LBJ: 1.0

Turnovers:

MJ: 3.1

LBJ: 3.6

Minutes:

MJ: 41.8

LBJ: 42.1

Field Goals %:

MJ: 48.7%

LBJ: 48.5%

3PT Field Goals %:

MJ: 33.2%

LBJ: 33.0%

Free Throws %:

MJ: 82.8%

LBJ: 74.2%

PER :

MJ: 28.6

LBJ: 27.9

Win Shares:

MJ: 39.8

LBJ: 45.8

Offensive WS:

MJ: 27.3

LBJ: 30.9

Defensive WS:

MJ: 12.4

LBJ: 15.0

Both of them score more in the post-season than during the regular season. They are equal in FG%, 3FG%, blocks and minutes.

LeBron dominates in rebounds and assists, Jordan in efficiency and turnovers.

King James has more win shares than MJ but it’s normal because he played 217 games in playoffs, Mike 179.

Michael Jordan stays a more efficient player than LeBron James in the post-season.

mj-lebron_o5xwlb

NBA Finals

We will closely look at the NBA Finals stats to see who’s the clutch player.

Note: All the statistics are “per game”

Points:

MJ: 33.6

LBJ: 27.7

Rebounds:

MJ: 6.0

LBJ: 10.1

Assists:

MJ: 6.0

LBJ: 7.5

Steals:

MJ: 1.8

LBJ: 1.8

Blocks:

MJ: 0.7

LBJ: 0.9

Turnovers:

MJ: 2.8

LBJ: 3.9

Field Goals %:

MJ: 48.1%

LBJ: 46.7%

3PT Field Goals %:

MJ: 36.8%

LBJ: 34.3%

Free Throws %:

MJ: 80.6%

LBJ: 72.6%

michael-jordan-lebron-james-one-on-one

Michael Jordan dominates LeBron James on everything except rebounds, assists and blocks. MJ averages 6+ points per game than James which is big in the Finals.

MJ is clearly more efficient and clutch in the NBA Finals.

We can say anything on Michael Jordan or LeBron James but at the end, we will remember that MJ won 6 championships in 6 appearances which makes him the Greatest of All Time.

I think that through the years LeBron James is better and better. Each season, he dominates the game more than the previous year. Now, I don’t know if he will keep reaching the Finals but one thing is sure : he is one of the greatest basketball players we ever seen.

But the Greatest is Michael Jordan by far. His performance can be definite by the word “Excellence”.

The difference between them is the competitiveness. Michael Jordan is clearly obsessed with that and the player who is closer to him is Kobe Bryant. The only thing they want is to win, whatever it happens, they want to succeed. I don’t think LeBron James has this level of obsession when I watch him on the court.

It’s hard to compare players from different eras but 3 years later after my first comparison between MJ & LeBron, I still think that James should be compared to a player like Larry Bird because Michael Jordan is still alone one the planet called Excellence.

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