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Friday, May 31, 2013

Retweet of the Day - May 31, 2013

Observing a debate on great athletes over different generations of players is like listening to children debate superheroes - they all have their opinion as to who is better and you cannot convince anyone of an opinion other than their own. This goes three-fold for basketball players. While it is a part of what makes sports fun, too often people put their fanhood emotions before logic and reason and such a debate becomes grating.


Around this time every year, late in the NBA playoffs, the inevitable comparisons about who is currently the best player in the game and who was better than whom among all time greats begin to surface and intensify anywhere the debate is being had. Whether it be in a barbershop, in a bar, or on a bus, everyone has an opinion. In 2013, anyone can jump into a debate with an infinite number of people of different ages and backgrounds on Twitter.

The debate de jour centers on four-time NBA Most Valuable Player and reigning NBA Champion LeBron James of the Miami Heat. In general it has been a two part debate. One part centers on whether the career of LeBron James can surpass that of Hall of Famer, six-time NBA champion and five time MVP Michael Jordan. The other part of the debate is whether or not James is better, right now, than Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. Also prevalent is who could take whom in a game of one-on-one assuming all players in their primes (LeBron would back Kobe and Mike down in the lane all day, but a Kobe-MJ battle would be intriguing).


Before revealing today's retweet, which I thought was quite practical, let me throw in my two cents. LeBron James' career resume is not on the level of that of Michael Jordan, but he's closing the gap very quickly. James is only 28 years old and has only one NBA Championship, though he is on the cusp of winning an Eastern Conference Championship for the fourth time in his career. In contrast, Jordan won neither his first conference nor league championship until 1991 at age 28. The biggest glaring difference between Jordan's and James' careers is the difference in championship experience.

I don't think any reasonable person would say that the player with more NBA Championships had the greater career, all other factors be damned. Otherwise, Robert Horry, with seven championship rings, would walk right into the Hall of Fame. But in comparisons of individual basketball players, more than any other sport (save for quarterbacks in the NFL), championships won weigh heavily in the evaluation of a player's career. I think James needs a minimum of one more championship, making him a multi-championship winner, in his career to have any chance of his legacy being considered on level with that of Jordan. The more titles he wins, the more juice the pro-LeBron camp will have. All of that said, Jordan's standing as the greatest player of all time (for the masses who hold that opinion, including me) is in play and on the table.

Celebrity opinion - WWWS: What would Weezy say?

LeBron-Kobe? LeBron James, today, is a more complete player than Kobe Bryant. Bryant has a better shooting range but James is capable from anywhere on the floor. James is a superior passer, rebounder, and defender; there's no (evidence based) comparison. For years, I thought Kobe had the superior game-closing killer instinct, but since last season I believe the two players are equals. LeBron's game, right now, transcends that of Kobe Bryant and that gap will continue to widen between the still-improving James and the 34-year old Bryant, who is currently rehabbing a torn Achilles tendon.

That leads us to today's retweet, from Big Poppa Pump. (‏@YoungFreekoMack):

"I get so tired of the Kobe-Lebron-MJ talk. 3 different eras. 3 different players. 3 different situations. All 3 great. kill the comparisons."

James (left), Jordan (center), and Bryant (right): these guys are good!
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