After winning an improbable NBA title Sunday night in Oakland, LeBron James certainly will see his ranking among the NBA’s all-time greats take a big jump forward.
But former Duke star Jay Williams, an ESPN sports commentator, said he believes that James is a better basketball player than Michael Jordan, the Charlotte Hornets owner who is widely considered as the best basketball player of all time.
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The initial Williams tweet was retweeted more than 8,000 times and it was liked more than 8,000 times. Of course, Williams got his fair share of criticism from the Twitter-verse. Jordan, after all, is the icon of all basketball icons. Also, Williams is a Duke guy; Jordan a Carolina guy. Many fans seized on the rivalry.
Williams, however, stuck to his guns.
Now, a few facts.
James averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists in the finals, helping his team become the first in NBA history to rally from a 3-1 NBA Finals deficit. He became the third player in NBA history to record a triple double in a Finals’ Game 7. His Cavs beat a Golden State Warriors team that won a record 73 games in the regular-season. Golden State lost nine times in entire regular-season and lost three straight to Cleveland when it counted most, including twice at home. Oh, and then there’s the fact that Cleveland, the city, hadn’t won a major sports championship in more than 50 years.
According to a study in the Washington Post, there have been 13 NBA finals games where a player has at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. James has five. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are the only other two players to have more than one. Jordan? Zero. Using advanced analytical data, the Post story concludes that James has supplanted Jordan as the most valuable playoff player of all time.
Now, Jordan has six championships and six Finals MVP awards. He never lost in the championship round. James is 3-4 in the Finals with three Finals MVP awards. No player, other than Jordan, has more.
For his career, James has four regular-season MVP awards and pretty impressive career averages of 27.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists. In the playoffs, James has averaged 28 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists.
Jordan? Five regular-season MVP awards and career averages of 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists. And in the playoffs, Jordan upped his averages to 33.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists.
So what do you think? Williams is pretty sure of his opinion.