The argument of who is the greatest basketball player of all time has been argued among fans, players, coaches, and analysts for years. The three most mentioned players are Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James.
All three players experienced their prime sometime during their career and accomplished numerous feats that many of the basketball players only experience once or wish to achieve during a career.
I believe that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. His career stats, achievements and accomplishments during his career, and, most importantly, his performance in the playoffs and championship rings prove that he is the best basketball player that has ever lived.
Although players’ stats do not define one’s career, stats are taken into account because it gives an accurate picture of a player’s performance and allows us to understand the player.
Jordan averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game in his career.
Bryant averaged 25 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game in his career.
James is averaging 27.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game for his career, and he is still filling up his resume while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was not until his first championship that Jordan was taken seriously as one of the greatest players in the game. He won a total of six championships, with no losses in the Finals, and has been atop the discussion of the greatest player ever debate ever since. He also has six Finals MVPs to go along with the six championships.
Bryant has five championships, one shy of Jordan. Between 2000–2002, he won three straight titles along with his teammate, Shaquille O’Neal.
He then won back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. He added two Finals MVPs to his accomplishment. Despite the three-peat during his early years, many believe that Shaq was the one who truly carried the team to the three championships, as he took all three Finals MVP.
James is the only player out of the three to win championships with two different teams. His first two championships were in Miami while playing with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He received both Finals MVPs and added another title in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This was extra special as the Cavaliers were his former team, and Ohio is his home state. However, unlike Jordan, who is undefeated in the Finals, James has a Finals record of 3-6.
Jordan won five Most Valuable Player awards and was the scoring leader 10 times. He also won Rookie of the Year in 1985, appeared in 14 NBA All-Star Games along with winning three NBA All-Star MVPs and the Slam Dunk Contest two times. He is fifth in the scoring leaders’ list with 32,392 points.
Bryant had a dynamic resume as well. He won the NBA MVP in 2008, appeared in 18 NBA All-Star Games, winning four All-Star MVPs and the Slam Dunk Contest in 1997.
Bryant also scored the second-most points in a game with 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. Ahead of Jordan, Bryant is fourth on the scoring leaders’ list with 33,643 points.
James has four MVP awards, has appeared in 16 All-Star Games with three All-Star MVPs, won Rookie of the Year in 2004, and was the NBA scoring champion in 2008. He has recently passed Bryant to become third on the scoring leaders’ list with 34,087 points and counting.
Can Jordan’s reign be overthrown?
The five-time MVP was a monster on the court, taking down opponents of all shapes and sizes. His competitiveness drove him further and made him better at the game.
Jordan is also well-known for hitting clutch shots like game-winners and buzzer-beaters. All of Jordan’s legendary status makes him the greatest basketball player of all time.
However, 18 years into his career, James has not shown signs of slowing down and adds on to his legacy. He is the first player to reach 30,000 points with 8,000 rebounds and 8,000 assists.
James has been playing phenomenal in the 2019-20 season, averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Lakers could win this year’s title when the season resumes after it was suspended in the middle due to the coronavirus. Before his career is over, he may even take over the number one spot.