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Now that LeBron James is headed to his eighth NBA Finals - and seventh in a row - the LeBron vs. Jordan arguments are all over Facebook.
Jordan was the NBA in the late 80s to late 90s and most people who grew up watching Jordan and his Bulls winning six NBA titles believe that no matter what James does he will not equal Jordan.
When you just look at the statistics, it's not so clear cut.
The Landofbasketball.com even has a convenient "James vs. Jordan" page that lays the numbers out for you.
Jordan is clearly the superior scorer. Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game to James' 27.1. Michael led the NBA in scoring 10 times. LeBron has done that just once.
James is the better rebounder and passer. Jordan averaged more steals and was all-defensive first team nine times to James' five. James has been first-team all-NBA in 11 out of 13 seasons. For Jordan, it was 10 out of 14.
The "drop-the-mic" moment for Jordan fans is that the Bulls were a perfect six-for-six in NBA Finals appearances, while James' teams have lost four of seven.
Last year's dramatic comeback from a 3-1 hole against a Warriors team that won 73 games gave James a boost in the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) argument. Jordan had so many dominating moments that it's hard to pick the greatest one. There are no great series comeback moments though. Early in his career, when the Bulls got down against the Celtics or Pistons, they stayed down. Once the Celtics and Pistons passed their prime, the Bulls laid waste to everyone else. For the rest of NBA history, it'll be hard to match the three-game stretch James had in last season's finals.
I'm a stats nut and a couple of seasons ago I took a shot at creating an all-time ranking for NBA title teams. The components are:
- Regular season winning percentage times 200.
- Bonus points - 10 for winning division, 10 for having best conference record, 30 for best NBA record.
- One bonus point for every playoff win - under the current format a team earns 16.
- For each playoff round you take the winning percentage of the team they play and times it by 100 and then divide it by your series winning percentage. Example, last year the Cavaliers earned 50.87 points for beating the Warriors. The Warriors won 89 percent of their games so the formula work out like this: ((73/82)x100)*4/7).
- MVP bonus points for each opponent you played who had a player receive MVP points. Last year's Cavaliers got 15 bonus points. Kyle Lowery of the Raptors got MVP votes so he was worth one point. Steph Curry was the MVP so he was worth 10 and Draymond Green was seventh so he was worth four.
Really, it's much simpler than it reads. After running the numbers, one thing is crystal clear. Jordan and his Bulls teams remain the greatest collections of talent put together. Here are the 10 top teams using my system in the post-ABA era (1976-1977 to today).
1. 1996-1997 Chicago Bulls, 69-13 regular season, 15-4 postseason (454.13 points).
2. 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls, 72-10 regular season, 15-3 postseason (453.89 points).
3. 1982-1983 Philadelphia 76ers, 65-17 regular season, 12-1 postseason (444.68 points).
4. 2000-2001 Los Angeles Lakers, 56-26 regular season, 15-1 postseason (442.00 points).
5. 1988-1989 Detroit Pistons, 63-19 regular season, 15-2 postseason (438.36 points).
6. 2014-2015 Golden State Warriors, 67-15 regular season, 16-5 postseason (432.73 points).
7. 1985-1986 Boston Celtics, 67-15 regular season, 15-3 postseason (426.76 points).
8. 1998-1999 San Antonio Spurs, 37-13 regular season, 15-2 postseason (413.70 points).
9. 1990-1991 Chicago Bulls, 61-21 regular season, 15-2 postseason (410.83 points).
10. 1992-1993 Chicago Bulls, 57-25 regular season, 15-4 postseason (408.50 points).
Jordan's other title teams, 1991-1992 and 1997-1998, rank 14th and 16th.
In contrast, James' three title teams are well down the list. The 2015-2016 Cavaliers are 18th in my ranking, the 2012-2013 Miami Heat are 26th and the 2011-2012 Heat are 35th out of 40.
Heading into the finals, Golden State finds itself in the same position it was last year. After a 67-15 regular season and a perfect 12-0 postseason so far - helped of course by Kawhi Leonard's injury - the Warriors could threaten the Bulls teams as the best ever with an impressive win in the finals. Cleveland would be another middling champion.
So Jordan fans have two reasons to watch the finals. Do you root against LeBron in the all-time player argument or root against the Warriors in the greatest team ever argument?