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Old 07-18-2010, 11:00 AM
JL JL started this thread
 
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LeBron James Has Always Been the "Next MJ": Not Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson | Bleacher Report

It always seemed a little crazy to me that LeBron James was compared to Michael Jordan since he came into the NBA seven years ago. Sure, he wore the same number as Mike, but at 6-8 and 260 lbs., LeBron shared none of Jordan’s physical characteristics, and frankly not much of his style of play.


If anything, LeBron’s newest teammate, Dwyane Wade, is a player who IS better compared to Jordan. While Kobe was dubbed early on in his career as the “Next MJ”, those comparisons weren’t all that helpful. Wade has never had to deal with that in his career, but truth be told, he may be closer than anyone to being the next Jordan.

Now, you may consider me crazy for making such a claim, but I believe it’s true.


How, you ask? Well, let’s take a look at it.


First, While Kobe’s beginning to catch up with Michael in the ring department, with the coming together of the “Three Kings” in Miami, there’s a good chance he’ll never catch him. Second, there are numerous people who would argue Kobe’s first three rings aren’t equal to Jordan’s first three, because he wasn’t “the man” on those teams.


If anything, they’d argue, he was nothing more than a role player on those squads, riding the coattails of the three-time Finals MVP Shaquille O’Neal.
Wade, on the other hand, has been, like Michael, the man on his team pretty much from his rookie year. Even when Shaquille O’Neal came to the Heat in 2005 to help eventually win Miami a title the following year, he had to admit the Heat were “Wade’s Team.”



Wade puts up big numbers every year.
He is the Miami Heat’s statistical leader in numerous categories year-in and year-out. He’s carried the Heat on his back since the day he arrived, and has thrived in that role. He’s a fierce dunker with great athleticism and quickness, and is the epitome of “clutch.”


All of those attributes have been applied to his newest teammate, LeBron James, over his career as well. However, he’s now on “Wade’s Team” and will inevitably have to, at the very least, share the role of the “go-to-guy” with Dwyane. In fact, despite his critics’ claims, he’ll likely relish doing just that.


In one way you could compare this new Heat team to the Chicago Bulls, with Dwyane Wade as an updated version of Jordan, LeBron a much stronger, faster, and more talented version of Scottie Pippen, and Chris Bosh a far more talented player than Dennis Rodman. It’s definitely convenient to some of the things I wrote above.


However, perhaps a far better comparison would be to Pat Riley’s team of old, the original “Showtime” Lakers of the 80s.
For when you think about it, LeBron James can’t really be compared to Michael Jordan. It’s not fair to either player, for a number of reasons. In fact, the closest thing we’ve seen to the talent and physical makeup of LeBron in the past, was Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.


Israel Gutierrez of the Miami Herald had that in mind in his most recent column, which speculates that Pat Riley is likely to use LeBron in the same way he used Magic, at the point.


So, rather than just have King James handle the ball quite a bit as a “Point-Forward”, why not plant him wholly into that new role for the Heat (otherwise now known as the South Beach Superteam), and make him Miami’s starting Point Guard?


It’s been done before, remember?
While some may question his ability to handle the ball going up against some of the quicker, defensive-minded Point Guards in the NBA, he could easily back the ball up with them, effectively posting them up from midcourt, and/or if they’re too quick for him, Wade can bring the ball up the court on occasion.


Like Magic, who was tall and big for his position, James would pretty much be playing the “Point-Forward” role discussed above, but as the true Point Guard, he would allow Mike Miller to earn his five-year, $25 million contract by starting for the Heat as their Small Forward.


In this role, James could easily be racking up about 20+ points per game to go along with possibly 10+ assists and 10+ rebounds.
Basically, he could be the first man since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double for the season.


In that respect, LeBron really would be “the man”, just as Magic was when he played for the Lakers during those 80s. Dwyane Wade would be his James Worthy, so to speak, and although this will seem blasphemous to some Lakers fans, Bosh could serve as his Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
When you get right down to it, I think that reveals quite a bit about LeBron James and who we really should have been comparing him to his entire career.
Yes, he’s always been the “Next MJ”. Not Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson.
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Old 07-18-2010, 11:57 AM
 
Location: Extreme Southeast Philly, NJ
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Well thought out, well put together, well done. I've never understood the LBJ/Jordan comparisons either other than trying to catch him in number of titles.

I think a lot of the Kobe / Michael stuff came from Kobe's obsession with MJ's personality. He wanted so bad to be like Mike that he emulated his mannerisms, vocal inflections and tone during interviews, etc. I think the "post-Shaq" Kobe is more like Mike on the court.

I agree, however, D Wade is more like Mike in his on-court game than Kobe.
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Old 07-18-2010, 12:14 PM
 
Location: Earth
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The Lebron-Wade-Bosh trio is offensively more gifted than Jordan-Pippen-Rodman. While Jordan is the best scorer in the group, both Lebron and Wade are better offensive players than Pippen was, and Bosh is certainly 5 times the scorer Rodman was. Having said that, that Bulls trio is far superior defensively, and in the playoffs when the game slows down, that's where the Bulls team has the edge. Jordan-Pippen-Rodman were all stellar individual and team defenders. In fact, Jordan-Pippen-Grant from the first 3peat were even better defensively. Jordan and Pippen were in their athletic prime, and Grant, while not the rebounder Rodman was, made up for it with an interior shotblocking presence and was able to cover alot of ground. That particular trio was once dubbed 'the 3 headed dobermans' on defense.

As for the Jordan-James comparisons, true stylistically they're not even close. Lebron is closer in size to Magic, but with Jordan-like jumping ability and that's where the comparisons have come from. People also expected coming into the league, that James would play a more 'Magic-like' game, and not be a 30ppg scorer, another reason why the Jordan comparisons kick in. But with this new trio in Miami, we may see a more Magic Johnson style performance. James is one of the top passers in the league, and with his speed, size and athleticism, he would be an dynamite fast break player, and with two other great athletes in Wade and Bosh running the wings with him, the fastbreak possibilities are tantalizing to consider.

As for Wade and Kobe and how they compare to Jordan, it's safe to say Wade most resembles the younger Jordan, in how he attacks the rim. However, at 6'4 he doesn't have Jordan's size, which means he won't be able to really transition into the post player than Jordan became from 32 onwards. It will be interesting to see how Wade's game transitions as he gets older. He's in his athletic prime now, but he's also 29 next season, and within 2-3 years, we'll see a gradual loss of athleticism. Kobe, for all intense purposes, very much resembles 'Older' Jordan now. The turnaround fadeaways, the crafty post moves, the mid range game, all resemble Jordan once he lost that explosive athleticism in his 30's.
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Old 07-18-2010, 02:31 PM
JL JL started this thread
 
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So do you guys see Lebron averaging a triple double this season? I don't think Magic averaged a triple double during his heydey with 'Showtime' of Kareem and Worthy. I don't think he will avg 20pts though. If he does avg a 3-double, i think it would be more like around 11pts,10 reb,10 assists. The last guy to avg a 3-double for a season was Oscar Robertson right?
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Old 07-18-2010, 04:22 PM
 
Location: Earth
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No way, Lebron is way too dominant an offensive force to restrict him offensively like that. Magic had a few seasons where he was like 18,12, and 8( or something like that), he's been pretty close. Oscar is the only player in NBA history to average a triple double. And no, I don't forsee Lebron averaging a triple double. I forsee Wade being 26ppg and 6apg, Lebron being 25 ppg and 7apg, Bosh will be 19 and 10 or something like that. The beauty of this team is you have 3 'number one' options, so there will be times when all three are playing together and share the wealth, but there will also be occasions where one or two are sitting, and the 3rd star will be on the floor. That's a heck of an advantage to have.

Sorry, that post was a bit all over the place...
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Old 07-18-2010, 07:38 PM
 
Location: Extreme Southeast Philly, NJ
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I started my thought with not seeing why LBJ couldn't avg a triple double, then I thought AVERAGE a triple double... for the year. Could you imagine Sportscenter? With like 50 games left in the season, there will nightly updates on what he needs to average per stat to do it. Nauseating. Like Greg1977 mentioned, it's only been done once ever. There's a reason I guess - it's hard. This might be the best opportunity to see it done again, though. My guess is he'll lead the league in triple doubles, but season averages will be 20 pts, 11 rebs, 8 ast.
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Old 07-18-2010, 08:28 PM
 
Location: Earth
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I'm thinking the best chance he had to do it, was in Cleveland. He had no-one really to defer to at any given moment, the offense was run through him, and he had the green light to rack up stats. Wade will take away his assists a little, Bosh his rebounding, as far as getting enough of both to average a triple-D. At best, his assists and rebounds will stay consistent with the last few years, 7-8 a game, but the scoring will dip to about 24-25 a game I suspect. He's now sharing the load with two other superstars, so the chance of him averaging a triple double has lessened, not increased IMHO.
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Old 07-18-2010, 08:33 PM
JL JL started this thread
 
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I don't know. I think he can do it. I think he will concentrate on finding the open guys especially Wade and Bosh plus the role players. He will also look to crash the boards and pick spots here and there to score. It would be nice to see history made since it has been over 30 something years since Robertson has done this over a season.
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Old 07-18-2010, 08:52 PM
 
Location: Earth
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He 'could' do it, the main thing is he really has no 'need' to do it. The whole point of these 3 coming together was to sacrifice stats for a chance to win. Lebron averaging a triple double means having to carry an unnecessary burden when you've got Wade who is good for 6-7 assists himself, and Bosh who is a double digit rebounder. Conventional wisdom is that the more talent around you, the 'less' you theoretically need to do.

Again, I have little doubt that Lebron 'could' average a triple if he pushed himself to do so, but there's no need for that kind of all out effort now. If he didn't do it with less talent in Cleveland, he's not likely to do it with more talent in Miami. Plus, when Oscar Robertson averaged a triple, the pacing of the game was such that with more possessions per game, the ability to rack up amazing numbers made it possible for one extremely talented player( for his time) to achieve that.

Interestingly enough, while everyone talks about Lebron's ability to average a triple, the player to have come closest in recent years is actually Jason Kidd. In 2007-8, he averaged 11.3 ppg, 10.4 apg, and 8.1 rebounds.
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Old 07-19-2010, 02:46 PM
 
Location: Houston, TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyDizzle23 View Post
Well thought out, well put together, well done. I've never understood the LBJ/Jordan comparisons either other than trying to catch him in number of titles.

I think a lot of the Kobe / Michael stuff came from Kobe's obsession with MJ's personality. He wanted so bad to be like Mike that he emulated his mannerisms, vocal inflections and tone during interviews, etc. I think the "post-Shaq" Kobe is more like Mike on the court.

I agree, however, D Wade is more like Mike in his on-court game than Kobe.
Kobe even tried to emulate a snarl
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