There is nobody, anywhere, who thinks that right now LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan was. Not even Kid LeBron, Business LeBron or Wise LeBron.
Bulls’ legend Scottie Pippen stepped in a pile of trouble earlier this year suggesting LeBron could be a better player than MJ. Then Pippen backtracked. Even LeBron didn’t want a part of that comparison.
Now, Pippen is clarifying. He was at an NBA 2K12 launch party and spoke with Erin Sharoni about the comparison.
“My position is still the same,” Pippen stated. “You’re talking about a very young kid who came to the game at a very young age. Statistically, he will probably be the best player at the end of the day…based on the number of years he can get in, [he’s a] super athlete, very versatile in a lot of ways.”
Pippen added, “My comment was not meant to belittle the greatest player in the game—he has truly made his mark with his style, with his charisma, with his brand—but from a statistical standpoint, I think [LeBron] has great [potential] to be recognized as the best.”
I’ll give Pippen this much — at age 26 LeBron’s stats compare favorably with Jordan. And neither had a ring at that age, both were learning how to win on the biggest stage. That said, MJ kept improving and his career took off like a rocket that will be very hard for LeBron to keep up with.
There also is a key difference of perception. Through everything Jordan did — leaving for two years to play baseball, gambling allegations and more — he never lost his appeal with the fans. Jordan was always wildly popular, and still is. LeBron has lost that, and while with some rings I think he regains some of that popularity and acceptance, it will never be the same.
In the public’s mind, LeBron will never be Jordan.
He shouldn’t worry about it, he should just be LeBron.