06.19.14

One More Time: MJ or KJ?

So the NBA Finals are finally over. Well, I shouldn’t say “finally over” because they were ended pretty quickly and decisively. The Spurs pummeled the Heat in 5 games. Incidentally, I’m not a prophet or the son of a prophet but I did predict the Spurs in 5. Heat fans nearly laughed me out of the barber shop, but wisdom is vindicated by its children. We now see that superb team play is superior to individual superstardom. Every time.

Which brings me back to the ubiquitous conversation. Who is greater? Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

Actually, I can’t even believe people ask the question. Lebron is a physical specimen and a truly good player. But he’s not the greatest of all times—not by a long shot. He lacks what the greatest has—the ability to will his team to a win in the most critical situations, like game 5 when you’re down 3-1. For all his athletic prowess—which is considerable—and all his marvelous stats—which fill the sheets—you kinda watch Lebron waiting for him to not take over.

You never watched MJ that way! You watched Mike leaning off the edge of your seat, in a Pavlovian slobber, having been trained to expect that the next time he touched the ball or his team needed a play he would come through. Nothing like repeat performance to create future expectation. Without doubt, Jordan is the greater player of the two and arguably the greatest of all time.

Now, I need to give a little truth in advertising here. I’m a Lebron “hater.” Have been since he left Cleveland the way he left Cleveland. But, you need to know this, too. I’m an NC State alum, which means I’m a Jordan “hater,” too. Had to be. It’s a matter of team loyalty. Well, I hated on Jordan while he was at Carolina and for his first several years in Chicago. But like most others who at some pointed wanted to “hate” on him, Jordan eventually closed my mouth and made me a fan of his on court excellence. Lebron has yet to close my mouth.

What about you? Who’s the greatest in your opinion?

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Thabiti Anyabwile
Thabiti Anyabwile serves as a pastor of Anacostia River Church (Washington DC). He is the happy husband of Kristie and the adoring father of two daughters and one son. Holler at him on Twitter: @ThabitiAnyabwil

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