It’s a different question, a break from the increasingly tedious “who is the GOAT?” debate in NBA circles.
Could LeBron James and Michael Jordan have played together?
LeBron thinks his game would have meshed well with MJ’s, something he explained on the Uninterrupted’s YouTube channel ( hat tip ESPN).
“I saw the things [Scottie Pippen] was able to do with Mike. I just think it would’ve been a whole nother level… with me being a point forward, with me being that point forward alongside of him during those Chicago runs….
“Me personally, the way I play the game — team first — I feel like my best assets work perfectly with Mike. Mike is an assassin. When it comes to playing the game of basketball, scoring the way he scored the ball, my ability to pass, my ability to read the game plays and plays and plays in advance.”
As great a player as Pippen was — and he’s a legend and Hall of Famer — nobody around Jordan had the court vision and anticipation of the game LeBron does. LeBron and Jordan were also incredibly high IQ players who would have understood how to play off one another, how to use each other’s skills to set the other up. It would have been devastating. The reason LeBron gets compared to Jordan — outside the fact LeBron’s resume is at the point only the game’s all-time greats are in the conversation — is LeBron can take over and control a game in a way nobody has since Jordan. (We could have Kobe debate here, but it gets off topic.) Put them together and it’s almost impossible to stop them.
Could LeBron and Jordan have meshed as teammates off the court? That’s a more interesting question, but it probably would have worked, at least for a while. Great talents tend to accommodate each other and make it work if they are winning — and with those two on a team they would have won. A lot. After a handful of years, LeBron might have wanted to prove he could lead his own team to a title and asked out, but personally, I don’t envision a Shaq/Kobe kind of breakup.
LeBron said he was Jordan’s teammate for some pickup games back in 2001 when LeBron was 16 and at Jordan’s annual summer camp (just before Jordan made his Wizards comeback). They were playing against college kids, but LeBron said he and MJ didn’t lose a game together. I believe it.