Michael Jordan is widely considered to be the greatest player in NBA history. LeBron James is one of the best basketball players currently active. This is a comparison of their records. LeBron James began his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers and currently plays for the Miami Heat. Michael Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls for most of his career and led them to victory in the NBA championship six times.
Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1963. He started his basketball career in high school playing for Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. He played baseball and football in addition to basketball, and though it was deemed too short to play basketball at the varsity level in high school, he showed that he did have the stuff that it took by dominating the junior varsity team instead.
LeBron James was born in Akron Ohio in 1984; on January 16, 2013 he became the youngest player in the NBA to reach 20,000 career points, at 28 years old. He played high school basketball at St. Vincent – St. Mary High school in Akron, and was highly promoted by the national media as a future NBA superstar due to the talent he showed during his high school games. He played Amateur Athletic Union basketball for the Northeast Ohio Shooting Stars.
Michael Jordan played with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for three years; the team won the Tar Heels' national championship team in 1982. Jordan's NBA career started in 1984 when he joined the Chicago Bulls. He averaged 28.2 points per game on 51.5% shooting during his first season in the NBA. He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated only a month after his professional career started, and experienced some issues with his teammates due to the amount of attention he received. His second season was cut short by a broken foot, causing him to miss 64 games in the season. In his third season, Michael Jordan came back with one of the most prolific scoring seasons in NBA history, becoming one of only two people to score 3,000 points in a season. He played for both the Chicago Bulls from 1984 to 1993 and again from 1995 to 1999. During this time, the Chicago Bulls won the NBA championships six times" 1991-93 and 1996-98. After he retired in 1999, Jordan returned for another stint, this time with the Washington Wizards, and played from 2001-03. He is now majority owner and head of basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats.
LeBron James played high school basketball at St. Vincent – St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio but did not play college basketball. After graduating, he was selected in the 2003 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and stayed with them until the 2010-11 season. James led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007 but they lost to the San Antonio Spurs. In a much publicized move in 2010, James joined the Miami Heat, disappointing his fan base in Cleveland. He cited winnability as one of the major reasons for the switch. The team did reach the NBA Finals that year but were defeated by the Dallas Mavericks. In 2012, the Miami Heat did win the NBA championship and LeBron James was MVP in the finals that year.
Michael Jordan’s playing style was one of total body awareness, using all of his muscles to the best of their ability in order to part through the court like a fish in water, going up for the layups leading to the slam dunks that he was so famous for. His leaping ability earned him the nicknames "Air Jordan" and "His Airness". He also gained a reputation for being one of the best defensive players in basketball.
James’ playing style is much more aggressive, opting to mow down those who get in his way as opposed to fluidly working through the court itself.
Michael Jordan was 6× NBA champion (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998); 6× NBA Finals MVP (1991–1993, 1996–1998); 5× NBA Most Valuable Player (1988, 1991–1992, 1996, 1998); 14× NBA All-Star; 3× NBA All-Star Game MVP; 10× NBA scoring champion; his accomplishments include five MVP awards, ten All-NBA first team designations, fourteen All-Star game appearances, and the records for highest career regular season scoring average and highest career playoff scoring average. He was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, second only to Babe Ruth on the Associate Press’s list of athletes of the century.
LeBron James was an NBA champion (2012), NBA Finals MVP (2012), 3xNBA MVP (2009-2010, 2012), 9x NBA All-Star (2005-2013), 2x NBA All Star Game MVP (2006, 2008), NBA Rookie of the Year (2004), NBA scoring champion (2008), 6× All-NBA First Team (2006, 2008–2012), 2× All-NBA Second Team (2005, 2007), 4× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2009–2012), NBA All-Rookie First Team (2004), USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (2012), Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (2012), Cleveland Cavaliers all-time leading scorer, Naismith Prep Player of the Year (2003), 2× USA Mr. Basketball (2002–2003), 3× Ohio Mr. Basketball (2001–2003), and 2× Consensus National H.S. Player of the Year (2002–2003).
Head to Head
While it is true that stats-wise, LeBron James is catching up to Michael Jordan, most experts and commentators consider MJ to be a better player in terms of style, sportsmanship, actual game play and recognition for that game play. Here's an ESPN video where Steve Kerr says that in a hypothetical one-on-one matchup between LeBron James in his prime and MJ in his prime, LeBron would win 3 out of 10 games.
Who Would Win Today?
Survey results published by Public Policy Polling in May 2015 show not only that most people consider Michael Jordan to be a better player (which isn't surprising), but also that about a third of the people believe Jordan could beat LeBron James even today when Jordan is 52 and James is only 30.
...when it comes to who NBA fans think is the best player of all time. 77% pick Michael Jordan on that question to only 14% who think it's LeBron James. In fact despite his being 52 years old, 34% of NBA fans think Jordan could beat James one on one now- as in the year 2015- to just 54% who think James would win despite being in the prime of his career.
Michael Jordan was involved in a controversy only once, in 1993 when he was seen gambling in Atlantic City the night before a game. He admitted to $57,000 in gambling losses. Off the court, LeBron James has had a public life full of intense scrutiny, and he has been ranked as one of America’s most disliked and most influential athletes. He is constantly in the news.