Who is the Basketball GOAT- Michael Jordan or Lebron James? [OPINION]

The term ‘greatest’ is thrown around a lot when talking about sports. There’s something about the term that elevates it from all the rest, both in the way that it sounds and what it means. To be great literally means to be a level above all others, so it’s no surprise that people want their favorite thing to be the greatest. 

 I think this is most prevalent in sports, specifically when talking about who is a specific sport’s GOAT, or greatest of all time. There have been debates over this in every sport, whether it be Messi or Ronaldo in soccer, Ruth or Bonds in baseball, Tiger or Nicklaus in golf, etc. But easily the most hotly debated of them all is whether Michael Jordan or Lebron James is the greatest basketball player of all time. This debate has been a constant on the internet for over five years and will most likely heat back up later this year as Lebron is set to become the all-time leading scorer in NBA history. 

 I have always viewed Jordan as the greatest ever, which seems to become more and more unpopular with each passing year, especially with people my age. The large majority of people who believe Lebron is the GOAT seem to be the people who have grown up watching him; the 20 somethings and younger who have seen him dominate the league for their entire lives. It’s not like it doesn’t make sense, few could compare to him. He has spent the last 20 seasons dominating the entire league, winning multiple championships and MVPs while statistically being one of the best players of all time. So why do I think it’s Jordan? Because of accolades. 

 Michael Jordan ended his career as a six time champion to Lebron’s four, six time finals MVP to Lebron’s four and five time league MVP to Lebron’s four, all while putting up more points per game and slightly less rebounds and assists per-game. Jordan also has nine more scoring titles and won Defensive Player of the Year, which Lebron has not won. Jordan continues to hold many statistical records like highest all time player efficiency rating (players total contributions) and win shares per 48 (total wins contributed). 

 Jordan was so great, his name has literally become an adjective for greatness, with people describing other great people as ‘the Michael Jordan of blank’. To me, greatness is a lot less objective than people make it out to be. Greatness is more about what you accomplished than how good you were, and I think that’s a very important distinction. You can argue all day whether or not someone or something is better than another, but that doesn’t automatically mean that they’re greater. Tom Brady is a great example of this. No one will ever tell you he’s anywhere near the best quarterback of all time, but Brady is easily the greatest football player ever, and that is because of his accolades and what he’s been able to accomplish. 

 Being the best is completely subjective, Lebron may be the best player ever to you, but Jordan was able to accomplish more in five less seasons, and to me that is greatness. This doesn’t mean Lebron doesn’t still have a chance to cement himself as the GOAT however. If he continues to collect longevity records and adds a few more trophies to his case, then he very well could become the greatest. But for me as of right now, Jordan’s peak as a player, as well as what he was able to accomplish in the time that he did, makes him the greatest basketball player of all time.