FanPost

Peachtree Hoops on ESPN's Lebron vs. MJ hype

ESPN has had non-stop programming discussing how hot Lebron is and how after these last six games somehow Lebron has made a statement to be equal with MJ that he hadn't two weeks ago. I think that's asinine, but I decided to do some (admittedly light) research and wanted to know what you Hawks fans thought.

I think PER is one of the few ways to fairly compare people across positions, other rate stats don't take into account team responsibilities. MJ and LBJ haven't been asked to do the same things most of the time but both were/are exceptionally efficient scorers, passers, rebounders, and defenders. I think Lebron may be the best help side team defender in basketball history. I know that Jordan was the greatest scorer. Basketball reference shows Jordan with a career 27.91 PER and Lebron with a (albeit rising) 27.49 PER. Michael's best single season PER was 31.71 in 87-88 and Lebron's best season came in 08-09 where he posted 31.67. Close again. (For those interested, Wilt has the only two seasons above these two at 31.84, and 31.76)

Of the top 10 PER seasons in History MJ has 4, LBJ has 3, and Wilt has three. Lebron has time to add to this. Right now he's on pace to have another one this year.

Let's look at playoffs where most argue the starkest difference between the two is found, shall we. Career PERs: MJ -28.60, Lebron - 27.10. That's a solid advantage to Michael, but you might be surprised that the highest individual season was Lebron's second overall 37.39 PER in the 09 playoffs. You don't get bonus points for winning the title. That Cavs team was bad anyway. MJ's best playoffs were in '91 where he posted a 32.04. Which frankly is nowhere near the dominance of 09 Lebron. Everyone forgets because the Cavs lost but he was nuts that year. (By the way the overall best playoffs was Hakeem the Dream with a 38.96 in 88)

So I think it's pretty clear we're talking about the best two players in the history of basketball. MJ is the best ever in most places, but Lebron is catching up and may very well pass him statistically. If that happens the argument will rage about how much those titles matter. It's a fun discussion.

Most of all, I was wondering what you guys thought. MJ or LBJ assuming a continuous career arc?


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