By Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been comical for a while.
Seriously, it has.
With all due respect to Michael Jordan and his ever-adoring, brand-sustaining fans, headlined by the likes of Screamin’ A. Smith and Charles Barkley, the days of picking apart LeBron James, his game, his comments, his facial expressions, and his part in the self-aggrandizing Decision seven friggin’ years ago every time the mere mention of greatness that our current day’s Number 23 inspires .... well, those days lost their legitimacy before they ever really started.
Yo, just give it a rest.
We get it. He’ll never supplant MJ as your guy. He’ll never win as many NBA championships. He’ll never overtake the universe as a jaw-dropping icon, known as much for his link to the fictional Mars Blackmon in commercials that skyrocketed the figure and Nike into omnipresent awareness among the masses as for anything he ever actually did on the court.
That’s fine. Stick with that … and stop reading at this point.
Because it’s reality-check time, and here it is:
LeBron’s better. Always has been.
Read again. Always. Has. Been.
Better passer. Better ballhandler. Better shooter from the floor. Better shooter from distance. Better rebounder. Better defender. Better all-around player.
Not just right now, when it’s becoming painfully apparent to even MJ’s biggest zealots that the King is moving closer to keeping the crown of “best ever” all to himself with a playoff run of late that defies description, never mind comparison. You know, until Sunday night’s abysmal, “Jordan remains NBA’s god”-ignited performance … that merely delayed what will be the inevitable: LeBron’s seventh straight appearance in the title series, and eighth overall.
We truly live in an ironic dichotomy anymore. On the one hand, you have the “anoint the newest, whatever is hot today as the greatest ever” crowd, and on the other, you have the “cling to the past, and be forever loyal to a previous standard” group, whether that standard has withstood the test of time, not to mention better, faster and more physical athletes, or not.
Most of the time, it is so silly and infantile. Just a complete denial of any and all evidence to the contrary of those beliefs.
It becomes a popularity contest, where people remain steadfast in supporting a player or a place in time … and screw the alternative, no matter how much it merits consideration, whenever “best,” or if you wanna go total cheese with “G.O.A.T.,” talk comes up.
Truth be told, not particularly a fan of James and wasn’t particularly one of Jordan, either.
But, in recognizing talent and what each brings to the basketball court, it’s kind of a hard to argue with the platitudes about either.
It’s just LeBron is better.
With Game 3 hanging over him like a “still gotta genuflect to Mike” albatross, and affecting his next performance Tuesday night for a half, James responded with a 34-point, 6-assist, 5-rebound tour de force down the stretch against Boston to give the Cavaliers an insurmountable 3-to-1 lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Finals.
Would Jordan respond after such a sorry display?
Just James did it even better.
Those who still debate such things share the same lunatic fringe with those continuously piping up about how Jordan was a more physical player than LeBron.
Yeah, way to keep it real, peeps.
Lotta talk around Philly about what the 76ers should do with the No. 3 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Me? Would trade it to Chicago for Jimmy Butler, a former late first-rounder who has parlayed his late-blooming talents into one of the better careers currently going in the league now.
In addition, go get Gordon Hayward. A free agent, the 6-foot-8 forward has become an electric performer for Utah the last couple seasons, earning not only “best white player” honors in the game, but some serious cachet as one of the top rim-crashers out there.
Pair him with Butler, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric in an 8- or 9-man rotation that includes a more conventional point guard to Simmons’ 6-foot-10 version and, say, another shooter (am down with acquiring J.J. Redick), and head coach Brett Brown would have one of the best units in the league.
One guy for the Sixers to stay away from … Kristaps Porzingis. Forget any whining he may have displayed with the Knicks. He’s window dressing that too often just gets lost as the glass gets foggy.
No 'right between the eyes'
Lotta ripping of the NBA for lack of competitive games this postseason. My biggest beef? Where the eff is Kevin Harlan with calling the action? He’s the most entertaining play-by-play we got, people.
Anyone else as unenthused about this year’s available lottery choices? Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson, Malik Monk? Zzzzz … You know for all the hype surrounding Lonzo Ball, he’s pretty “meh” if you ask me.
Gotta give it to him
If Kevin Love continues to perform as he has against Boston, posting 24.5 points and 12.8 rebounds per game while shooting 20-for-36 from 3, Golden State won’t be getting revenge on Cleveland.