LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan Debates Are Purgatory

Brian Giuffra
Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James. / Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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Over the last 30 days, Skip Bayless has debated LeBron James vs Michael Jordan 17 times on his show or Twitter. That includes a two-day hiatus to focus on the NFL Draft, two days where he debated Jordan vs Tom Brady, a few weekends where Skip stayed away from Twitter entirely, and a mere five-day stretch where he didn't talk about them at all.

Of course, there was no new basketball played during this time to help further differentiate these all-time greats. The only addition to the storylines, and Skip's main talking points, was The Last Dance and quotes from former players and coaches about their viewpoint on the LeBron vs. Jordan debate. Most of the time, they favored Jordan, which Skip used to further his argument that LeBron doesn't deserve to be in the same conversation as Jordan.

At this point, it would be preferable if neither name was mentioned in the same segment ever again.

A live-sports starved country has struggled to find good talking points during this national shutdown. The NFL Draft provided a few days of reprieve (man, did Dave Gettleman blow it again). NFL free agency was fun. But because most broadcasters want to avoid the touchy subject of when and how sports should return (for obvious reasons), the biggest digital water cooler conversation topic has been ESPN's documentary about Jordan. Inevitably, this leads to LeBron James being brought up.

It's not just Skip debating them, either. Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and the First Take crew debated who they would rather team up with, LeBron or MJ, just this past Monday. Sports Illustrated has published multiple articles on the subject and tweeted it's the greatest argument in sports history. Virtually every digital media company has opined on the subject. Hell, Golf Digest even posted a story on the subject.

The biggest issue I have with the debate is no one brings anything new to the table. It's only Jordan has more rings, or LeBron is a better passer, or Jordan never lost in the Finals, or LeBron is physically more dominant, or Jordan is more clutch, or LeBron is clutch too, just in a different way.

It's tired. It's boring. It would be one thing if someone unearthed a mind-blowing stat, or LeBron or Jordan commented on the question, or LeBron was actually playing basketball right now. But none of that has happened in over two months. Yet here we are, in the center of debate purgatory, listening to the same argument over and over again.

I asked the other editors on The Big Lead when this debate would end. One told me to stop paying attention. The other told me when LeBron wins four more rings. Both of those aren't realistic solutions to the issue.

If LeBron wins four more, the debate will only intensify because people will point out all the times he lost in the Finals and the fact that Jordan never did. At least right now, most people agree Jordan is better. If LeBron wins four more, we'll never hear the end of it.

As for ignoring it, that's also impossible because it's my job to pay attention to what people are discussing in sports. Even when that discussion that makes no sense.

LeBron James and Michael Jordan are totally different players in totally different eras. Debating who's better is like debating what's tastier, lobster or crab (or whatever similar foods appeal to you). They're both delicious, all-time great foods. It's a personal preference of which appeals to your palate more. Palates also change, so you might like one better one day and the other the next. And guess what? That's okay.

It's okay to like LeBron and Jordan. You don't have to choose. I like them both and I like them for different reasons. Jordan was killer on the court and was so invested in winning it felt like every moment mattered to him, which in turn made it matter more to me. LeBron is a physical anomaly who is amazing in every aspect of the game, which is like watching poetry in motion on the court. Saying one is better and one is worse doesn't really matter. It's just filler for a time when no sports are on. Time to ignore the filler.

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