In a recent clip, Kevin Durant has suggested that it’s “crazy” for fans to believe that LeBron James is the sport’s greatest of all time, particularly ahead of Michael Jordan. Interestingly, this, of course, raises a fascinating debate regarding basketball’s leading all-time figure.
The issue with making a decisive claim on such as divisive subject concerns subjectivity. With that in mind, instead of directly comparing the legacies of both James and Jordan, we’ll consider whether it’s absurd for fans to hold the 35-year-old small forward in higher regard than the man who globalized basketball’s popularity.
What Do the Numbers Say?
As per Jordan’s official NBA profile, the now 57-year-old played 1072 regular season games over the course of his 15-year professional career. During his time with the Washington Wizards and, more predominantly, the Chicago Bulls, the Brooklyn-born player recorded an average points-scored total per game of 30.1. Regarding his career-high, Jordan scored 37.1 points for the Chicago Bulls during the 1986-87 season.
James, on the other hand, compares reasonably well to Jordan according to the statistics. Throughout his 17-year top-level career, the three-time NBA champion has, at the time of writing, featured in 1265 matches, as per Basketball Reference. While longevity is one area that can be explored in seeking to make a conclusive argument regarding basketball’s greatest of all time (GOAT), it’s worth remembering that Jordan spent two years retired between 1993 and 1995.
Concerning the 35-year-old’s points per game NBA average, James’ total sits at 27.1, as of August 21st. For a direct comparison, the Los Angeles Lakers small forward recorded his career-high best in the 2005-06 campaign with 31.4. Moreover, James has since surpassed Air Jordan in becoming the NBA’s third-highest points scorer of all time, behind only Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, respectively.
Instrumental in Taking Basketball to the Mainstream
Unlike in other sports, basketball’s GOAT arguably can’t be decided purely on sporting contributions. Over the years, both James and Jordan have proved to be the catalyst for the sport’s success throughout the late 20th and early 21st century. During his era, Air Jordan undoubtedly revolutionised basketball and helped to take it to global audiences. In showcasing this, he previously had a unique clause written into his Chicago Bulls contract, allowing him to play during the off-season to help promote the sport, according to SportsRec.
James, on the other hand, has somewhat picked up the baton from Jordan regarding branding and diverse commercialisation. While Nike has its Air Jordan range, the 35-year-old is a sponsored athlete for the world-renowned organisation, illustrating his ability to use his platform to expand his personal brand.
Interestingly, from a brand standpoint, both have been central to the growth of basketball-themed products, particularly games, hitting the market throughout the last four decades. This is evident from the NBA 2K series, which was first published back in November 1999. Moreover, the sport has also since become a focal point of the ever-developing online casino industry. At Genesis Casino, a listed operator at Casino Hacks, prospective players can utilise their sign-up bonuses on Basketball Star, which is a five-reel video slot.
Are James Shouts “Crazy”?
At the time of writing, it’s troublesome to conclusively say who the NBA’s greatest ever competitor is. That said, as illustrated by James’ global brand and on-course statistics, to make the argument for him being the sport’s GOAT isn’t at all crazy. While it may not be an opinion that is commonly shared, it’s certainly not an absurd belief to hold.