By: Opinionated MJ
Could Prime Michael Jordan Have Defeated The Golden State Warriors In LeBron’s Place?
I want to start this discussion by saying that I respect LeBron and his abilities and the fact that he’s a champion. I believe that he’s arguably the best in the league right now along with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Anthony Davis. I also believe that he will probably be in the next 3-4 finals. Weak Eastern Conference, eh? Now let’s weigh in.
I have started an uproar amongst peers who are proud Jordan fans, LeBron fans, and Kobe fans. I made a statement and asked a question that has us nearly hating each other over our different views. I said, “If Prime Jordan was in LeBron’s place against the Warriors, he would’ve won this series. What do you think?” I’m a believer that LeBron is currently in his prime and at the very height of it. Though, LeBron’s weaknesses are Jordan’s strengths and I think Jordan would’ve overcome the Warriors as he has done against pretty much everything he’s been up against except father time.
A close friend to me says that Jordan has the “Superman” complex when I talk about him because it’s based upon what Jordan has done and was able to do and the fact that he succeeded so how could anyone dare to see him fail in this situation. Sacasticly we then argued about that complex. I watched Jordan as a kid and he put away competitor after competitor after competitor at every level. I’m seeing LeBron operating from the post and mid-post areas and looking to facilitate unless he was backing down Harrison Barnes or Draymond Green. He made a couple fadeaways which was surprising and he also made a few of those jab step jumpers that Carmelo Anthony specializes in. I thought I was watching Melo for a minute at times. Now, when Andre Iguodala guards LeBron James, not only can he push him outside of the post, but he can force him to take really bad shots. I posed this question, “Could Iguodala had honestly stopped Jordan in the spot that made him legendary? The mid-post?” I am very doubtful that he could. Jordan has seen tougher defenders in my opinion.
We’ll move on to this whole concept of “Making His Teammates Better.” LeBron, in my opinion, makes his teammates INSTANTLY better because he is on the floor ACTIVELY looking for them to be open once he penetrates the lane and attracts defenders. Rather he’s driving or he’s posting up (usually a smaller defender), he’ll find an open teammate for a good shot. This is where the argument took another turn in saying that he makes his teammates better and people saying to me that Jordan didn’t do that. I totally disagree. Jordan made his teammates raise their game individually so it would fit into the grand scheme of things so when he passes them the ball they could actually connect on their opportunities instead of hanging on to his every move like LeBron’s teammates. How many times has Randy Brown and Jason Caffey come in make shots and had you like, “Really? Him?!?” Without LeBron, JR Smith and Shumpert were simply LOST. The whole team loses their identity and the ball movement comes to a halt and isolation takes over completely. The only reason they survived a lot of times in the season when this happened was Kevin Love being able to stretch the floor and when the iso’s fail, Kevin will be standing there where LeBron wants him. What a big 3 member is supposed to be doing.
Would Jordan have converted on a lot more of the volume shots LeBron was taking?
People also say LeBron didn’t have anyone. Okay, so we have actual NBA players who aren’t worth a damn when they fail but when they’re making shots they’re being celebrated. Shumpert! FOR THREE! YESS!!! JR is UNCONSCIOUS RIGHT NOW!!! Celebrated when doing well, and hated and treated as worse than D-Leaguers when they’re doing bad. I’d like some of you to see what the 97-98 Bulls roster looks like from top to bottom. I’m sure you’ll recognize LeBron’s teammates but then again we live in a post-2K era where everybody knows everyone and all their business. Twitter didn’t exist during Jordan’s playing time. Let’s analyze.
Sounds upsurd but, Jordan Cavs:
Considering what I’ve seen from those Cavs teammates, they are VERY defensive. They were able to keep the Warriors off their game for 2 games and 3 quarters and still played good defense thereafter. Thats basically defense at every position and athleticism. Who expects Kerr to stop Curry? So I’d go with Dellavedova on that one. Shumpert did well with his assignment. Thompson seemed to be Dennis Rodman in this series anyway cause he grabbed a few rebounds from half court and Mozgov is a good defender and guy you could drop the ball into for a bailout. Who didn’t he dunk on in this series? He even went 28 & 10 in game 4. Yeah, I would take Mozgov over Longley. Maybe I need to watch some tape to remember what Longley did other than be a gump who made a few shots at the rim. Lets not act like that Cavs team wasn’t defensively formidable and would’ve been better having a lockdown defender with Jordan being there. LeBron isn’t a lockdown defender to me. You disagree? I have a few names: Jason Terry, Kawhi Leonard, Derrick Rose (before injury), Stephen Curry.
I can see Prime Jordan at least continuing to slow down Curry. May not stop him but he’d have a higher chance of doing so. Let’s also not forget how different the rules are nowadays. Jordan would literally rule at the line and would easily put up 50 points. He almost effortlessly could reach 40 points. He was already the focal point of the offense so why would his style thrive in this situation? I see Jordan scoring in places where LeBron would pass. I see Jordan scoring on Iguodala with no problem. Iguodala still had happy feet, it’s just that LeBron could not convert on many of his jumpers. He’s also not comfortable trying to force the issue, Jordan also thrives in this area well. When his teammates became spotty scorers, he would’ve taken over instead of putting his head down and accepting defeat. I see LeBron accept defeat before and he also did so in game 6. I can’t see the assassin in Jordan just relent. I don’t see that happening.
We can argue FG %, we can argue 3pt %, we can argue FT %, we can argue assist ratios, fact of the matter is that Jordan always elevates his game and rises to the occasion and puts teams dreams on hold. He always did. 6 for 6 in the Finals explains enough.
Would LeBron have made this shot?