I understand the desire of sports fans to compare greatness to greatness, but after watching the Miami Heat lose in the NBA Finals can we please stop acting like Michael Jordan didn’t fail miserably before finally breaking through in 1991? As hard as it may be for some to fathom MJ failing at anything, it happened; and dare I say, on a more colossal scale than Lebron James before he finally broke through.
Now, if you’re one of those that strictly compare NBA Finals appearances and wins, then I’m not talking to you, but feel free to keep reading. As a matter of fact, I’ll validate your argument right now. You are right, 6-0 beats 2-3 every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
My issue is with those who don’t seem to know that there were indeed NBA Playoff games before 1991. I can guarantee you even Michael doesn’t want to talk about his ’86-’87 campaign. He averaged a gaudy 37.1 ppg that season and took to the Chicago Bulls to the postseason only to be swept in three games. From 1984 to 1987, the Bulls were bounced in the first round of the playoffs despite his cumulative 36.2 ppg average. That’s not exactly GOAT status, right?
It’s a good thing Twitter didn’t exist back then because social media would have been flooded with the same type of hateful and disrespectful vitriol that Lebron is dealing with now. Michael has always (as in 100%) gotten a pass from the media, who in today’s athletic climate look to tear down athletes for any and everything.
BREAKING: “Lebron James Forgets to Wash His Hands After Using the Restroom”
Is Michael Jordan the greatest to ever dribble and shoot? Quite possibly, but he was also the biggest jerk in sports. Can you imagine sportswriters attacking Lebron James if, at his Hall of Fame induction, he taunted Kevin Durant or Dwight Howard for never winning a title? That is surely what would happen. Jordan did it in his speech, calling out Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing and gloating over the fact that he kept them from winning rings. Did he get any backlash? Nope, there were cricket noises. They dare not touch or speak ill against the sports equivalent of a sacred cow.
Another thing I don’t agree with is folks using the failures of one player to highlight the success of another. MJ’s Finals success can be no more pristine than it already is, so there’s no need to drag it into an argument to highlight Lebron’s Finals failures. Besides, do they not think Lebron is aware that MJ got to and won six championships? Please, if you’re debating sports with someone who does that, do yourself a favor and just walk away, never discuss sports with that person again.
Since I’m talking about comparing greatness, I have to mention Kobe Bryant. There has been introduced into the basketball debate world, a new and constant criticism linked mostly to Kobe. You’ve heard it said, you’ve probably said it, “He shoots too much!” But, did you know that in Michael’s last game in a Bulls uniform, he took 35 shots? I’ll take it a step further; he had only one assist and one rebound! He did shoot 12 for 15 from the charity stripe to net his 45 points in the clincher. Now, take away those twelve points from free throws and what you had, was 33 points on 15 for 35 shooting.
*Media Pass Engage*
What is the enduring image of that game? Michael draining the final shot and holding the followthrough high in the air. I can understand why his poor shooting weren’t called into question. In the game’s biggest moment, the game’s best player made the game’s biggest play. Let Kobe Bryant get anywhere near twenty shots and the pundits go nuts! I’m no defense attorney, but isn’t the point of playing the game to put the ball in the basket? I won’t make any apologies for my stance, that criticism simply isn’t fair. I won’t even mention some of those same folks, who while attacking Kobe for shooting too much, constantly beg Lebron to take more shots than he already efficiently does.
What I am not doing here is throwing rocks at MJ’s statue. What I am doing is making a plea for sports lovers, no matter who they cheer, to stop dragging irrelevant arguments into sports debates in order to bolster their points. I am also demanding they stop acting like Michael didn’t crash into a few hurdles (Pistons & Celtics) before finally winning the big one. On a much smaller scale, what I’d like is for folks to enjoy the game and respect the greatness of a Lebron or a Kobe without constantly dragging MJ into an argument to chip away at their greatness. I know that’s not likely to ever happen so I guess that’s more wishful thinking. Enjoy the game, and respect greatness when you see it. I promise you’ll appreciate it more and it might make you a better sports debate than some hate-filled homer whose only “film study” is ESPN’s Top 10 Plays.