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Old 01-21-2020, 12:06 PM
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How good was Michael Jordan's era?


Did Michael Jordan play in a weak era, or was he just that much better than everyone else?
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Old 01-21-2020, 12:21 PM
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He was just that much better than everybody else.
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Old 01-21-2020, 12:23 PM
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He played at the same time as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson , they are 2 of the other all time NBA greats.
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Old 01-21-2020, 12:28 PM
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I'm no NBA expert, but it's my impression that Pippen, Malone, Stockton, Ewing, Olajuwon, Barkley, Drexler, Robinson, Mutumbo, and Thomas are all legitimate great players. Depending on what you consider his era, you can throw Bryant, Shaq, Magic, and Bird in there too.

I don't know how stacked/diluted the late 80s-mid 90s was compared to say, today, but that doesn't seem like a weak era.
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Old 01-21-2020, 12:37 PM
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The best players were truly awesome and great to watch. I'd say the best players probably had a more specialized set of skills along with some glaring holes vs. today's best players. The quality of the teams top to bottom were probably worse.
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Old 01-21-2020, 12:38 PM
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You will find a variety of opinions on this subject, especially when comparing Jordan's era to the current. While I feel that Jordan is the "greatest of all-time", I still think LeBron James is the best player of all time and that the current era is by far vastly superior to all of those before it. Here's why:

-Jordan's reign really began once the Magic/Bird/Isiah era ended. While that time period was known for its toughness and physicality, the overall skill level was nothing like today

-Just about every NBA team of today includes important players from around the globe. In Jordan's era, it was primarily a US-centric game. There was even a whole lot of controversy when the Bulls acquired Toni Kukoc, since the Bulls players felt that they didn't need a foreign player. Plus, there are so many players from those days that started for very good teams that wouldn't even make it onto teams of today.

-While Jordan gets the lion's share of the credit for the Bulls' dominance, it was really that his team was just a superior team. The Bulls didn't win anything until Jordan's 7th season (right after Doug Collins was replaced by Phil Jackson), and he had reached his prime several years before that. Plus, you shouldn't under-estimate the impact of Scottie Pippen, who was a soft-spoken and humble kid from Arkansas. He stayed away from the spotlight, allowing Jordan to take all of the credit.
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Old 01-21-2020, 12:51 PM
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I think today's era and the Jordan era are pretty close with a small lull in between. The 2004 Detroit team was a fun team to watch but they were basically the Cosby kids and the first "super team" with the Celtics was a group of high quality players who couldn't really carry a team.
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Old 01-21-2020, 04:05 PM
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The thing I've always found baffling and more than little irritating about the Jordan era was how so many people involved not only completely downplayed everyone else involved in the Bulls juggernaut, in particular Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, and Phil Jackson (and yes, even that weirdo Dennis Rodman made an impact for one of those rings), they were ferociously militant about never, never, ever giving anyone else credit. Seriously, Pippen had one of the most standout careers of anyone in the 90's, and except for a few real scholars of the game (or the occasional hates-everyone-equally commentator like Colin Cowherd), literally the only things I've ever heard about him were the bizarre tiff he got into with Toni Kukoc in that one playoff game and being overpaid in Portland. I mean, I'm sure there were a fair number of sports personalities who didn't particularly want to talk about Shaquille O'Neal's stint in the Lakers after he left for the Heat, but it never rose to the level of a gag order.

Anyway, the thing I remember about the time was that there were plenty of strong contenders, none of them had the killer instinct and cohesiveness it took to really get over the hump. The Suns were notorious chokers, the Jazz were the very definition of "treadmill", the Rockets drafted a superstar center and left him for dead, the Supersonics were streaky and guaranteed to crumble at some point in the playoffs. The Spurs, led by the disciplined but physically soft David Robinson, were a perennial disappointment for years, lucked out in the draft with Tim Duncan, dominated for a bit...and regressed back to a perennial disappointment. Any time an opponent took one game or two games off of them, all it amounted to was raising false hopes. This team was not going to be beaten in the playoffs. (The same was true about the Rockets in '94 and '95, incidentally, although I'm thinking sports historians will have a much harder time explaining that one.)

I'd argue that today's league is weaker due to 1. more teams, and 2. more players entering without being properly developed. When a college superstar bursts into the league with a ton of hype and gets hailed as the next huge thing (so much so that Knicks fans burst into tears when they learn they're not going to get him), and from day one he has major injury concerns to the point where he misses more than half of his rookie season, I think there's a bit of a problem.
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Old 01-21-2020, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut View Post

-While Jordan gets the lion's share of the credit for the Bulls' dominance, it was really that his team was just a superior team. The Bulls didn't win anything until Jordan's 7th season (right after Doug Collins was replaced by Phil Jackson), and he had reached his prime several years before that. Plus, you shouldn't under-estimate the impact of Scottie Pippen, who was a soft-spoken and humble kid from Arkansas. He stayed away from the spotlight, allowing Jordan to take all of the credit.
Yeah, Pippen, Rodman, Kerr and Grant were big contributors and great players. Jordan was a phenomenon, of course. Nobody had seen a player quite like him before. He shredded defenses with ease and was spectacularly athletic.
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Old 01-21-2020, 04:23 PM
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Jordan was also one of the best defenders in history, and one could argue that Pippen was even better, since he could guard all 5 positions on the floor. When they got Rodman for the 2nd 3-peat, it was probably the greatest defensive team ever assembled.
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Old 01-21-2020, 04:37 PM
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If people really respected Michael Jordan it wouldn't be taking so long to sell his house (it's been on the market nearly eight years). Hell, he's cut the price nearly in half and offering to throw in a complete set of Air Jordans to a buyer!

It's costing Jordan $100,000 in property taxes a year while the place stays unsold. I mean, how can he afford that?
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Old 01-21-2020, 04:53 PM
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If people really respected Michael Jordan it wouldn't be taking so long to sell his house (it's been on the market nearly eight years). Hell, he's cut the price nearly in half and offering to throw in a complete set of Air Jordans to a buyer!
Yeah, but the kitchen counter height is six feet off the floor!
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Old 01-21-2020, 06:35 PM
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Yeah, but the kitchen counter height is six feet off the floor!
So are the toilets!
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Old 01-21-2020, 09:29 PM
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Jordan and the Bulls peaked at the start of NBA expansion. Obviously, an NBA with 4 more teams isnt going to be as strong as the previous NBA.
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Old 01-21-2020, 10:00 PM
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-Jordan's reign really began once the Magic/Bird/Isiah era ended. While that time period was known for its toughness and physicality, the overall skill level was nothing like today
There are always really good players competing with the elite players of the day. What makes great players of an era different from really good players is that the great players beat the others out: consistently. Jordan defeated Magic Johnson's Lakers, Isaiah Thomas' Pistons, Clyde Drexler's Blazers, and Hakeem Olajuwon's Rockets won back-to-back titles but only when Jordan was retired. Jordan's Bulls swept Shaquille O'Neal's Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They beat Malone and Stockton - twice. They beat Barkley's Suns. They took on all comers. They won six titles. Enough said.

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-Just about every NBA team of today includes important players from around the globe. In Jordan's era, it was primarily a US-centric game. There was even a whole lot of controversy when the Bulls acquired Toni Kukoc, since the Bulls players felt that they didn't need a foreign player. Plus, there are so many players from those days that started for very good teams that wouldn't even make it onto teams of today.
Simply put, the NBA was far, far superior to the rest of the world during Jordan's era. Ironically, it was the addition of NBA players to international competition that actually made teams from around the world better.

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-While Jordan gets the lion's share of the credit for the Bulls' dominance, it was really that his team was just a superior team. The Bulls didn't win anything until Jordan's 7th season (right after Doug Collins was replaced by Phil Jackson), and he had reached his prime several years before that. Plus, you shouldn't under-estimate the impact of Scottie Pippen, who was a soft-spoken and humble kid from Arkansas. He stayed away from the spotlight, allowing Jordan to take all of the credit.
There's no question that Jordan's supporting cast helped, but so did Lebron's. Every great player needs a supporting cast of other really good players to win. A lot of people would look at the 2011 Miami Heat and wonder how Miami loses with Lebron, Bosh, and D-Wade.

And just for the record, I'm a huge Lebron fan and I believe that King James is right up there with Jordan in terms of overall game.
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Old 01-21-2020, 10:04 PM
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Jordan was also one of the best defenders in history, and one could argue that Pippen was even better, since he could guard all 5 positions on the floor. When they got Rodman for the 2nd 3-peat, it was probably the greatest defensive team ever assembled.
I'd still put the Pistons of 1989-90 and the Pistons of 2004 over the Bulls in terms of defense; the Spurs had some good teams as well in that respect.
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:57 AM
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Rodman is pretty odd but he's also in the BB HOF
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Old 01-22-2020, 08:21 AM
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Did Michael Jordan play in a weak era, or was he just that much better than everyone else?
He was just that much better.

More to the point, I don't know how someone constructs an argument his era was "Weak." Surely the time of the greatest players in their sports - Ruth, Gretzky, Brady - can't ALL have been weak. If the argument for an era being weak is there was a transcendent star kicking ass, then we'd never have anyone who was the greatest of all time.

As asahi very well states, Jordan wasn't beating no name assholes. He went up against a lot of great, great basketball players, and he won.

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I'd argue that today's league is weaker due to 1. more teams, and 2. more players entering without being properly developed.
The "more teams" thing just falls apart so easily. For one thing, it's not like they doubled the size of the league. When Jordan started winning titles, there were 25, and 27 during his second championship run. If anyone benefitted from expansion, Michael Jordan did much more than any player today, because it was happening while he was playing, and that's the time the new talent is weakest.

The NBA hasn't expanded in awhile now; the last team they added was Charlotte in 2004. The league has had lots of time to grow and fill in the talent gaps. The number of teams in a league creates more of a demand for players, which inititall can thin talent but also creates increased effort in developing talent.

Most pertinently, the NBA is drawing far more talent from overseas. Today 25% of the association is from outside the USA. There's more European talent, but also new waves of talent from Africa. The Asian talent base hasn't generated much yet - we got Yao Ming, though, and more is on the way. That is a HUGE change from Jordan's era, when the figure was only about 4-5 percent from outside the USA. In effect, the NBA has found the equivalent of five or six entire teams from outside the USA, and unless your position is that those countries just found out how to play basketball in 1996, it's very hard to deny this represents a real increase in the available talent; the NBA is just doing more to find it. The additions of Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, the brothers Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Tony Parker, etc. etc. add a lot to the NBA.
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Old 01-22-2020, 10:14 AM
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On the topic of weak eras:

I'm most familiar with soccer, although going way back my knowledge decreases pretty significantly. I took the top 40 players of all time from some recent poll and counted them by the decade in which they were most prevalent. The results:

1950s - 3
1960s - 7
1970s - 3
1980s - 6
1990s - 7
2000s - 9
2010s - 5

Would that be a good method to measure eras though? Find the distribution of the top N players? Probably need more than the top 40, and this specific poll had a pretty strong bias for English players, IMO.

Comparing a player relative to their era be it approximate value, or WAR, seems to be fairly well understood. Not sure if there is a standard way to compare eras themselves and not in the trivial "all sports get more sophisticated and athletic over time" kind of way.
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Old 01-22-2020, 12:03 PM
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-Jordan's reign really began once the Magic/Bird/Isiah era ended. While that time period was known for its toughness and physicality, the overall skill level was nothing like today
Jordan was the man who single-handedly (yes, yes team sport) ended Bird's, Isiah's and Magic's championship eras. And he did it in that order.
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Old 01-22-2020, 02:43 PM
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Jordan was the man who single-handedly (yes, yes team sport) ended Bird's, Isiah's and Magic's championship eras. And he did it in that order.
Nah, they just got old. Or else it wouldn't have taken 7 years. Or are you saying that he had some huge leap in ability between years 6 and 7? And coincidentally, at the same time that he got a new head coach and a brand new system?

Come on, he's not LeBron, who took a team of no-names to the Finals, and whose teams all become championship quality once he arrives, and then fall apart once he leaves. The Bulls were still solid contenders for the title for the 1 year that Jordan was out (not 2 years as his fan-boys consistently repeat).
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Old 01-22-2020, 02:54 PM
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Nah right back at you.

LeBron was absent in the first finals with the Heat. A total non factor. You can't do that and be considered anywhere near being the GOAT.

Case closed.
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Old 01-22-2020, 03:01 PM
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Nah right back at you.

LeBron was absent in the first finals with the Heat. A total non factor. You can't do that and be considered anywhere near being the GOAT.

Case closed.
This makes no sense. Jordan couldn't even sniff the Finals for 6 years. And LeBron has proven that he can elevate any team, while Jordan could only do it under one coach, under one system, and with another Dream Teamer next to him the whole way through.

That said, Jordan is indeed the GOAT, but that has as much to do with his place in history than just basketball ability. Just like Ali is the GOAT, but not too many boxing experts would rank him #1 pound-for-pound.

Not taking anything away from Jordan, but LeBron would tear him up on the court. Bigger, faster, stronger, better passer, rebounder and 3-point shot.
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Old 01-22-2020, 03:06 PM
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Come on, he's not LeBron, who took a team of no-names to the Finals, and whose teams all become championship quality once he arrives, and then fall apart once he leaves. The Bulls were still solid contenders for the title for the 1 year that Jordan was out (not 2 years as his fan-boys consistently repeat).
Yes, Jordan played in 1994-1995, but only seventeen games.

The Bulls got better the instant he came back. Until he returned that season, they were 34-32. After that they were 13-4. Guy had an impact.

I'm actually quite open to the idea LeBron is the greatest ever - we are starting to get to the point where even if one says they were equally great at their peak, LeBron's career is just getting a lot longer... but let's not pretend Jordan didn't deliver teams to the promised land.
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Old 01-22-2020, 03:07 PM
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And LeBron has proven that he can elevate any team
Except for that manufactured big 3 in Miami against Dallas. He didn't elevate anything or anyone in that series.

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Not taking anything away from Jordan, but LeBron would tear him up on the court. Bigger, faster, stronger, better passer, rebounder and 3-point shot.
Nah. Jordan has him in mental toughness, competitiveness, drive to win. He'd kill him, and it would mostly be over even before the opening tip due to those factors. Nobody has ever been better at getting in his opponents head and has had a more fierce desire to not only win but to completely destroy those he competes against. LeBron is 3-5 in the finals. Come on. He is anything but a sure thing in big moments.
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Old 01-22-2020, 03:20 PM
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Jordan was the man who single-handedly (yes, yes team sport) ended Bird's, Isiah's and Magic's championship eras. And he did it in that order.
If he beat them first time around, then maybe. But Jordan lost to Bird in '86 and '87, and Thomas in '88, '89, and '90. By the time Jordan beat Magic, the Lakers hadn't won the championship for two years already (because of Thomas and the Pistons). As Jackknifed Juggernaut said, there's a lot more to it than Jordan's greatness ending the championship eras of those guys.

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Rodman is pretty odd but he's also in the BB HOF
I'd argue he's a big part of the reason the Pistons kept Jordan in check and got past the Bulls in 88-90. His oddness came later; back then he was known mostly for his ferocious defense.
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Old 01-22-2020, 04:13 PM
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I think if we ever master time travel, one of the first things we need to do is set up cross-temporal sports competitions to settle these debates.
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Old 01-22-2020, 04:58 PM
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12 Jordans vs 12 Lebrons, best of 7, and it goes like this:


Game 1: LBJ's over MJ's, but Lebron #'s 1,3,6,8,10-12 are kinda pissed off at Jordan trash talking and they get on Twitter, complaining how all the MJ's disrespect the game. All the Jordans leaves to gamble away $96,000, not returning to their hotel room until 7am. By mutual consent: They don't gamble against each other. Except in how much they can fleece other people. (MJ 1 wins this contest, every night, because he's the #1 MJ.)

Game 2: MJ's over LBJ's. Lebron #'s 1-6, 8, 10-12 are just bitching to the refs, and MJ3 gets tossed out for relentlessly taunting LBJ3, which pisses all the other Jordan's off who then convince themselves the refs are throwing the game to LBJ, using their anger to fuel their game. After the game, the Jordan's grab #3, give him some cigars, and all take bets as to whose cigar Jordan 3 will smoke first. (MJ1 wins this again.) The Lebrons? They're on Insta, except for LBJ3 who mysteriously chartered a flight and went to visit his buddy Chris Paul.

Game 3: MJ's over LBJ's. In a surprising development, LBJ3 decides to trade himself to the OKC Thunder telling his @KingJames followers on Twitter "The Decision is Now." Whatever. Regardless, the MJ's relentlessly, brutally taunt the other LBJ's about #3's actions, so much so that LBJ 1 and 6 have to sit out much of the 4th quarter, claiming cramps brought about by faulty air conditioning. MJ's celebrate their win by... what else... playing 36 holes of golf the next morning.

Game 4: LBJ's over MJ's. LBJ gets his focus back, overpowers the slightly-hungover and tired MJ's. Jordan is yelling at Jordan - "Who's open, Mike? Who's open?" "...Mike." "Well, then give Mike the damned ball!"... but a stunning LBJ block in the closing 2 minutes sealed the deal. For the first time this series, the MJ's go quietly to their hotel rooms... where they text the worlds most beautiful women and get them to come visit, because, shit, this is Michael Jordan we're talking about here and he's not going back to his hotel room to sulk. That's what LBJ does.

Game 5: MJ's vs LBJ's. MJ's are rejuvenated, vicious, and full of themselves as they talk about the previous nights antics. The LBJ's pull out to an early lead, only to lose it as LBJ's 2,4,6, and 9-12 seemingly all lose focus and desire to win the game in the 2nd half. The MJ's go out that night to buy their victory cigars because:

Game 6: Nobody took MJ to 7 games in the NBA Finals. Nobody. And not even the 12 Lebrons, who all... right now... are thinking of who they want to play with next season, while the MJ's? They not only want to beat LBJ in this game, they demand that LBJ knows he's been beaten and who beat them. And they do.

MJ 4, LBJ 2.

Last edited by JohnT; 01-22-2020 at 05:01 PM.
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Old 01-22-2020, 05:04 PM
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Early on in Jordan's era, it was perfectly OK for Laimbeer or some other goon like him to just throw Mike onto the floor. You can't do shit like that anymore. So yes, the era matters, and IMO, in Jordan's favor as the GOAT.
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:32 PM
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Nah. Jordan has him in mental toughness, competitiveness, drive to win. He'd kill him, and it would mostly be over even before the opening tip due to those factors. Nobody has ever been better at getting in his opponents head and has had a more fierce desire to not only win but to completely destroy those he competes against. LeBron is 3-5 in the finals. Come on. He is anything but a sure thing in big moments.
I have never understood the bad thing about being 3-5 in the Finals. How many guys have won three Finals at all?

I mean, losing the Finals means you won three playoff series. 3-5 is objectively superior to 3-0. LeBron's playoff record may not be as good as Jordan's but it's awfully elite.

The idea James is somehow lacking in drive to win is ridiculous. He's got three rings and was MVP in all of them, and he's won a shitload of series and games. James scores more points per game in playoff games than regular season games. He clearly elevates his game.
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Old 01-22-2020, 08:27 PM
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I have never understood the bad thing about being 3-5 in the Finals. How many guys have won three Finals at all?

I mean, losing the Finals means you won three playoff series. 3-5 is objectively superior to 3-0. LeBron's playoff record may not be as good as Jordan's but it's awfully elite.

The idea James is somehow lacking in drive to win is ridiculous. He's got three rings and was MVP in all of them, and he's won a shitload of series and games. James scores more points per game in playoff games than regular season games. He clearly elevates his game.
Great analysis, post.

Let's remember that Lebron carried some very average teams into the playoffs, like he did in 2007 when he was a member of the Cavs.

I'd also point out that Lebron is arguably a better defender and rebounder. MJ was almost incontrovertibly a better offensive player but Lebron is such a beast at both ends of the floor that he has worn other teams out.
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Old 01-22-2020, 08:31 PM
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Early on in Jordan's era, it was perfectly OK for Laimbeer or some other goon like him to just throw Mike onto the floor. You can't do shit like that anymore. So yes, the era matters, and IMO, in Jordan's favor as the GOAT.
There were advantages and disadvantages. Yes, there was roughhousing and hand-checking, which favored defenders. But the illegal defenses absolutely favored explosive players like Jordan and when you threw in another explosive player like Pippen, the Bulls were unstoppable.

Lebron's arguably among the greatest rebounders and defenders of his time, and he's doing it in a league in which being a defender ain't easy.
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Old 01-22-2020, 10:50 PM
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Early on in Jordan's era, it was perfectly OK for Laimbeer or some other goon like him to just throw Mike onto the floor. You can't do shit like that anymore. So yes, the era matters, and IMO, in Jordan's favor as the GOAT.
Funny thing is, Laimbeer wouldn’t have been able to throw LeBron to the floor. Sure, LeBron might have flopped to get a foul, but not due to being over-powered by Bill. That era never experienced a specimen like LeBron. The speed of Isiah, with the vision and passing ability of Magic, with hops of Shawn Kemp, in the body of Karl Malone. I always find it funny when people assume that LeBron would be too “soft” for the ‘90’s NBA. If anything, he would have been even more dominant, as players of today are far more athletic, and in bigger bodies.
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Old 01-22-2020, 11:03 PM
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...But the illegal defenses absolutely favored explosive players...
Very shrewd observation that is often over-looked. You couldn’t play zone defense on MJ, like you can on LeBron. You had to either double-team him, which freed up a man, or play man defense (which no 90’s defender could do successfully). This was partially offset by more lax hand-checking rules, but MJ was too good to let hand checks stop him from at least getting fouled.
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Old 01-23-2020, 07:09 AM
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I have never understood the bad thing about being 3-5 in the Finals. How many guys have won three Finals at all?

I mean, losing the Finals means you won three playoff series. 3-5 is objectively superior to 3-0. LeBron's playoff record may not be as good as Jordan's but it's awfully elite.

The idea James is somehow lacking in drive to win is ridiculous. He's got three rings and was MVP in all of them, and he's won a shitload of series and games. James scores more points per game in playoff games than regular season games. He clearly elevates his game.
I have tofurther point out that James's performance in the 2016 Finals absolutely was one of the greatest, and maybe THE greatest, Finals performance ever. Cleveland was down 3-1 and you could've gotten fifty to one odds if you bet on them at that point; they were as dead as dogshit.

In Game 5, LeBron scored 41, took down sixteen boards, and had seven assists. All game highs.

In Game 6, he dropped 41 more with eleven assists. Game highs.

Game 7? Oh, just a triple double for LeBron, and Cleveland pulls off the comeback. By the way, they were losing by 7 at the half. James with a huge block with two minutes left, too.

Name anyone who's ever dragged his team back in a comeback like that. Anyone. Oh, you can't, because that's the only comeback from 3-1 in Finals history.

LeBron is a winner. Big time.
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  #36  
Old 01-23-2020, 07:26 AM
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I have tofurther point out that James's performance in the 2016 Finals absolutely was one of the greatest, and maybe THE greatest, Finals performance ever. Cleveland was down 3-1 and you could've gotten fifty to one odds if you bet on them at that point; they were as dead as dogshit.

In Game 5, LeBron scored 41, took down sixteen boards, and had seven assists. All game highs.

In Game 6, he dropped 41 more with eleven assists. Game highs.

Game 7? Oh, just a triple double for LeBron, and Cleveland pulls off the comeback. By the way, they were losing by 7 at the half. James with a huge block with two minutes left, too.

Name anyone who's ever dragged his team back in a comeback like that. Anyone. Oh, you can't, because that's the only comeback from 3-1 in Finals history.

LeBron is a winner. Big time.
On the flip side, Jordan never lost 3 games in a finals.

Agreed that 3-5 is better than 3-0 though and it's not even an opinion, that's fact. Unless, perhaps the latter player retired early after the third, then you could argue that maybe they'd have made more finals...

I'm not sure how much I like the "Lebron dragged his teams to the finals" argument. Jordan took 7 years to win a championship, Lebron took 9 (both were 28). Both only won championships with multiple other allstars on the team. Lebron made 2 finals with bad teams, but were blown out both times (1-8 in those finals).

Seems pretty close anyway you slice it. 538 comes to a similar conclusion (https://fivethirtyeight.com/features...past-40-years/) although some of their rankings make you question the methodology.
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Old 01-23-2020, 07:45 AM
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Basketball is a hard, hard game in which to measure individual value, and some of the new metrics offer shocking results.

538, for instance, offers up Chris Paul as the 4th most valuable player since 1977, more so than Magic or Bird. I am sure that will stun everyone, but Basketball Reference ranks Paul as the ninth greatest player who ever lived by VORP and seventeenth by Win Shares. I am 100% certain no one in this thread would have ranked Chris Paul that highly. Higher than Bill Russell, Magic, or Pippen.

But here's the thing; why not? Historically, NBA players have generally been ranked in our heads by the following criteria:

1. How many points they score
2. How their teams do in the playoffs
3. How many assists or rebounds they get

Paul mostly does well in assists. But isn't it possible we just didn't know? Defense is incredibly hard to measure; you can measure blocks and rebounds but it's hard to measure how a guy affects opponent shot selection, clock usage, and accuracy. The problem with going by things like just how many points and boards you get should be obvious; a guy (thinking of you, Allen Iverson) can roll up 26 points a game but if he's taking 36 shots to do it he's not really helping his team win. Today people are trying to figure this stuff out, and OF COURSE it's going to make us re-evaluate how we see players' real value.
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Old 01-23-2020, 09:18 AM
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Certainly I'm not saying you should ignore analytics results that seem odd at first glance. Those are actually the coolest results. If all they did was 100% map to common perception then it wouldn't be interesting at all.

On the other hand, you shouldn't accept anything just because a smart person attached a number to it. I don't know enough about the NBA, RAPTOR methodology, or basketball theory to find out for sure. It is possible that John Stockton is the 3rd best player since the NBA/ABA merger and it is possible that David Robinson was a better player than Shaq, but it's also possible that the rankings are overlooking something or weighing things out of proportion to their true value.
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Old 01-23-2020, 02:36 PM
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Michael Jordan at his best - would he be the best NBA player in the league today? Probably, or at least a superstar with few equals.

Wayne Gretzky at his best - would he be the best NHL player in the league today? Definitely.
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Old 01-23-2020, 04:50 PM
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Certainly I'm not saying you should ignore analytics results that seem odd at first glance. Those are actually the coolest results. If all they did was 100% map to common perception then it wouldn't be interesting at all.

On the other hand, you shouldn't accept anything just because a smart person attached a number to it. I don't know enough about the NBA, RAPTOR methodology, or basketball theory to find out for sure. It is possible that John Stockton is the 3rd best player since the NBA/ABA merger and it is possible that David Robinson was a better player than Shaq, but it's also possible that the rankings are overlooking something or weighing things out of proportion to their true value.
We are probably too early in the process to really know and I don't understand enough about how they calculate Win Shares and VORP in basketball to say how confident I am in it.

Baseball has been doing this for decades and the analytical numbers still aren't always right.

One thing I will say is I totally reject the "sure, he's great now/was then, but would not be great then/today." That is one hundred percent wrong. LeBron would dominate the late 80s and early 90s, and Jordan would dazzle today. Players of that level of skill, intelligence, and drive would not be defeated by different conditions; they would defeat the different conditions. I am equally convinced Babe Ruth would be the finest hitter in the game today, that Gretzky would win scoring titles year after year today, and Jim Brown would be a devastating offensive force today.
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Old 01-23-2020, 06:20 PM
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Jordan is the GOAT and it's not really that close. Say what you want about zone defenses, just look at the scoring then versus now. Defenses were WAY, WAY tighter in the 80s and 90s and the physical nature of the game (which frequently crossed over into dirty) took a massive toll on most players not named Michael.

Today's players shoot a lot more threes and generally shoot for higher percentages. That doesn't make them better offensive players, that just means that they had to adapt to the way the game has evolved. If you think MJ wouldn't have been one of the best 3 point shooters in the league were he playing today you're out of your head. He'd have been in the gym shooting 30 footers every night like everyone else. But due to his era he developed the fadeaway instead. Similarly, if he got the same kind of bogus fouls that Harden gets these days he'd have been to the line 40 times a game.

The only possible argument that can be made about a "weak era" was due to expansion and there being comparatively fewer Euros in the game (but there were several good ones back then). Jordan played before the big influx of high-schoolers that hurt the game in the 00s which LeBron benefited from. I think the expansion thing is way overblown, it's not like they doubled the size of the league . When you look at teams like the Knicks, Bulls, Wizards, Nets, Suns, non-LeBron Cavs, mid-process Sixers and Bobcats/Hornets can you seriously say that the league is stacked with talent and well-run organizations?

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  #42  
Old 01-23-2020, 06:24 PM
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Very shrewd observation that is often over-looked. You couldn’t play zone defense on MJ, like you can on LeBron. You had to either double-team him, which freed up a man, or play man defense (which no 90’s defender could do successfully). This was partially offset by more lax hand-checking rules, but MJ was too good to let hand checks stop him from at least getting fouled.
My point isn't that Jordan wouldn't be as good today as he was then -- he'd be every bit as good. But instead, imagine if someone of Lebron's size and versatility played during Jordan's era. Someone of Lebron's would be a nightmare one-on-one mismatch for any of the Knicks, Pistons, and Pacers defenders who regularly competed with him during his heyday.
  #43  
Old 01-23-2020, 06:36 PM
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My point isn't that Jordan wouldn't be as good today as he was then -- he'd be every bit as good. But instead, imagine if someone of Lebron's size and versatility played during Jordan's era. Someone of Lebron's would be a nightmare one-on-one mismatch for any of the Knicks, Pistons, and Pacers defenders who regularly competed with him during his heyday.
Not really. First, if LeBron played back then he wouldn't get the benefit of today's medicine and training. He wouldn't be the guy he is now. You can't have it both ways. If the 80's and 90's guys came up in this era they'd be way bigger, stronger and faster too.

Plus those guys in that era weren't exactly the 50's Celtics. You think Charles Oakley and Dennis Rodman and Hakeem would have been totally outmatched by LeBron? Sure LeBron would have still been great, but it wouldn't have been "a man amongst boys". And they'd have had free reign to put him into the stanchion on the regular, not sure he'd have been as eager to get into the paint as he was against most of the "defenders" playing today.
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Old 01-23-2020, 08:04 PM
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Jordan is the GOAT and it's not really that close. Say what you want about zone defenses, just look at the scoring then versus now. Defenses were WAY, WAY tighter in the 80s and 90s and the physical nature of the game (which frequently crossed over into dirty) took a massive toll on most players not named Michael.

Today's players shoot a lot more threes and generally shoot for higher percentages. That doesn't make them better offensive players, that just means that they had to adapt to the way the game has evolved. If you think MJ wouldn't have been one of the best 3 point shooters in the league were he playing today you're out of your head. He'd have been in the gym shooting 30 footers every night like everyone else. But due to his era he developed the fadeaway instead. Similarly, if he got the same kind of bogus fouls that Harden gets these days he'd have been to the line 40 times a game.

The only possible argument that can be made about a "weak era" was due to expansion and there being comparatively fewer Euros in the game (but there were several good ones back then). Jordan played before the big influx of high-schoolers that hurt the game in the 00s which LeBron benefited from. I think the expansion thing is way overblown, it's not like they doubled the size of the league . When you look at teams like the Knicks, Bulls, Wizards, Nets, Suns, non-LeBron Cavs, mid-process Sixers and Bobcats/Hornets can you seriously say that the league is stacked with talent and well-run organizations?
Great points. And I would like to remind y'all that the shrug game was because the national press kept talking up how the Bulls's opponent was going to 'beat them with threes'. So what did Michael do? Scored 6 threes in the first half, 6-6, a record which stood for years, giving yet another iconic moment such that I don't even have to name the opponent almost 30 years later.

And that's another thing about Jordan - he was the King of The Moment:

The 63 Point Game
The Shot
The Shrug Game
"Like Mike. I want to be like Mike."
72-10
The Flu Game
The Final Shot
"Through the rafters, off the speakers, bounce off the 15th row seats, nothing but net"
  #45  
Old 01-23-2020, 08:23 PM
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Not really. First, if LeBron played back then he wouldn't get the benefit of today's medicine and training. He wouldn't be the guy he is now. You can't have it both ways. If the 80's and 90's guys came up in this era they'd be way bigger, stronger and faster too.
Are you saying that Lebron wouldn't be 6'9 and 250 pounds -- because that's what he is: a 6'9 and 250 pound beast. You may recall that there was this guy named Shaquille O'Neal, who was 7'0 and weighed about 355 pounds, and while everyone would unanimously agree that Shaquille O'Neal wasn't exactly as skilled as Michael Jordan (hell he wasn't even as skilled Olajuwon), he was an unstoppable force of nature. Are you gonna complain that Shaq had, um, "medicine" and "training"? It's called genetics, and Lebron has the genes. That's just a stupid argument.

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Plus those guys in that era weren't exactly the 50's Celtics. You think Charles Oakley and Dennis Rodman and Hakeem would have been totally outmatched by LeBron? Sure LeBron would have still been great, but it wouldn't have been "a man amongst boys". And they'd have had free reign to put him into the stanchion on the regular, not sure he'd have been as eager to get into the paint as he was against most of the "defenders" playing today.
Yeah the 1950s Celtics that played in a country club league with almost all white guys -- keep goin'. LOL!
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Old 01-23-2020, 09:23 PM
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It's not a stupid argument - Lebron had era-specific advantages which previous players, even Shaq, did not. The control of his career is an obvious one, rule changes are another, and the continual improvements in therapy and rehab which contributed to, what, 16 straight seasons without a major injury are a third.

I look at the two as 1 and 1a, but MJ will always be 1.

But you know who may come into the conversation, for a unique reason? If the man can bring 3 rings to 3 NBA teams while being Finals MVP on all three rings, Kawhi Leonard may have a claim to being one of the greatest post-season players ever, which puts him in the GOAT conversation alongside Bird, Johnson, and Hakeem. Anyone who can bring a championship to both the Raptors and Clippers, while giving the Spurs's Duncan his fifth (shades of the 1st title, with Duncan playing the role of the Admiral) is worthy of consideration.

Last edited by JohnT; 01-23-2020 at 09:26 PM.
  #47  
Old 01-24-2020, 07:35 AM
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It's not a stupid argument - Lebron had era-specific advantages which previous players, even Shaq, did not. The control of his career is an obvious one, rule changes are another, and the continual improvements in therapy and rehab which contributed to, what, 16 straight seasons without a major injury are a third.
I don't think there's any way we can attribute Lebron's health to advances in medicine and training. NBA players suffer severe injuries now, just as they always have. If you want to make the argument that Lebron is able to recover and stay fresher for games from one game to the next due to advances in training and medicine, I might go along with that. But it's not like MJ was living in the dark ages.

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I look at the two as 1 and 1a, but MJ will always be 1.
For the record, I more or less agree that Jordan was better - he's the best player I've ever seen, and the one thing that still separates Jordan from The King is Jordan's ability to finish games with huge plays in the most important moments. In this regard, I think Kobe Bryant evolved into someone more comparable to MJ than Lebron has. The only disagreement is this notion that Jordan's game was miles ahead of Lebron's - it's better, but not by much when you look at all the criteria.

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But you know who may come into the conversation, for a unique reason? If the man can bring 3 rings to 3 NBA teams while being Finals MVP on all three rings, Kawhi Leonard may have a claim to being one of the greatest post-season players ever, which puts him in the GOAT conversation alongside Bird, Johnson, and Hakeem. Anyone who can bring a championship to both the Raptors and Clippers, while giving the Spurs's Duncan his fifth (shades of the 1st title, with Duncan playing the role of the Admiral) is worthy of consideration.
I don't disagree at all. Leonard is quietly becoming one of the league's all-time great players, and I absolutely agree with your point about playing on different teams. Being able to win with the same players and same coaching staff is great and all, but it says something when someone can be championship-level great on two or three different teams. That's not to say that Jordan couldn't have won elsewhere - I'm convinced he absolutely could have and would have had he left Chicago earlier. But even as we saw during his time in Chicago: Jordan didn't win titles until he had the right combination of players and coaches around him.
  #48  
Old 01-24-2020, 11:39 AM
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Are you saying that Lebron wouldn't be 6'9 and 250 pounds -- because that's what he is: a 6'9 and 250 pound beast.
He'd have been hurt a lot more. He'd have been knicked up and slowed down a lot more. He would have been running and lifting, not doing yoga and whatever other new regimens these guys do today that keeps them healthier than they ever were back then. He probably would have been carrying a little unnecessary weight. He'd have been forced to play in the paint a lot more thereby taking more punishment and needing the mass. There's a shitload of NBA players who are 6'9" and 250....not sure why you think that makes him special, it that he's that big playing in space which makes him rare and that's largely due to this era's trends.


Quote:
Yeah the 1950s Celtics that played in a country club league with almost all white guys -- keep goin'. LOL!
The fuck you talkin' bout?

Last edited by Omniscient; 01-24-2020 at 11:41 AM.
  #49  
Old 01-24-2020, 12:28 PM
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Nah, they just got old. Or else it wouldn't have taken 7 years. Or are you saying that he had some huge leap in ability between years 6 and 7? And coincidentally, at the same time that he got a new head coach and a brand new system?

Come on, he's not LeBron, who took a team of no-names to the Finals, and whose teams all become championship quality once he arrives, and then fall apart once he leaves. The Bulls were still solid contenders for the title for the 1 year that Jordan was out (not 2 years as his fan-boys consistently repeat).
I will agree that Bird just got old. But Isiah and The Bad Boys were still going strong when Jordan finally figured how to beat them in the playoffs in 1991. If I remember correctly it was a sweep and the Piston's walked off the floor in shame before the final game was even finished. And after dropping the Piston's Jordan literally took ring #6 from Magic in the finals. Yes, I think the addition of Phil Jackson and the triangle along with Pippen finally emerging into his own were big factors as to why the Bulls went on such a tear in the 90s. Pippen's defense on Magic in the finals should not be understated.

I really don't want to derail the thread here but...(dramatic pause)...I truly cannot understand why anyone who has actually watched the game over multiple decades can claim that Lebron belongs in the greatest of all time conversation. Sure the guy is a statistical nightmare and he has won a lot of games on every level he has played. But to compare him to Jordan is huge insult to Jordan and all that he accomplished. Jordan had to beat a lot of the all time greats to win his championships. Lebron has had to beat who exactly? And how many no-names knocked him out of the playoffs over the years? How many unremarkable teams sent him home in the finals?

In my mind Lebron is like Peyton Manning. An awesome statistical nightmare during the regular season but frequently failing to close when it matters most in the playoffs. And I say all this as a life long Laker fan.
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Old 01-24-2020, 12:38 PM
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If he beat them first time around, then maybe. But Jordan lost to Bird in '86 and '87, and Thomas in '88, '89, and '90. By the time Jordan beat Magic, the Lakers hadn't won the championship for two years already (because of Thomas and the Pistons). As Jackknifed Juggernaut said, there's a lot more to it than Jordan's greatness ending the championship eras of those guys.
Bird and his Celtics teams and The Bad Boys are all time great teams. Some of the best to ever do it. So of course Jordan needed time to learn and grow to be able to beat them. The fact that he went home every summer and came back stronger until he was strong enough to climb all the way to the top of the mountain is a testament to not just the greatness of Jordan but the greatness of the opponents he had to beat.

You win a championship against a Dirk Nowitzki and nobodies gonna care. You beat Magic/Bird/Isiah and everyone's gonna remember.
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