Ask Michael Jordan, and he’ll say at his peak “no question” he could beat LeBron James in a game of one-on-one.
If either of those answers feels like a surprise, then you were probably caught off guard by the ending of the movie “Titanic.”
What we need is a neutral third party to weigh in on this meaningless debate… how about Shaquille O’Neal? Is there a better arbiter of the ludicrous? Shaq was in France eating butter-laden foods and was asked about the hypothetical matchup, as reported by the Agence France-Presse (hat tip Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie):
O’Neal, visiting Hong Kong to promote an energy drink, faced both Jordan and James in their prime and when asked who would win a hypothetical match-up, he didn’t hesitate.
“Mike,” said O’Neal, winner of four NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers (2000-2002) and the Miami Heat (2006). “I think you have to go with a young Jordan every time.” […]
“It would be an interesting game,” said O’Neal. “Young LeBron was more like (Lakers Hall of Famer) Magic Johnson. He was sort of like Magic with Jordan’s abilities. He liked to pass, and he liked to get it up.
“But Mike was Mike. He was just special, like no one else. He always did things no one else could do, and things you couldn’t compare to anyone else. So he was special, and he’d win.”
What both men do well, but Jordan did better than anyone, is hit difficult, contested shots. Sort of like Stephen Curry of late, Jordan was a guy who made bad shots look good. LeBron would be a bull that even Jordan would struggle to stop.
It would be fun to see. After that, just beat each other up in the comments over who would win, because everyones’ opinions matter as much as Shaq’s.