If Nothing Else, Respect the Nicknames

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Above is a picture of Michael Jordan’s #23 (Along with Dan Marino’s #13) hanging in the rafters of American Airlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat. Pat Riley decided to hang the #23 in honor of the greatest player to ever lace ’em up (in this case a pair of his globally recognized Air Jordan’s). Jordan suited up in the Red and Black many a time, but never for the Miami Heat.

In the midst of LeBron James’ great run of 30+ points in the past 6 games, there has been some spectulation as to whether or not LeBron James compares to Michael Jordan. Obviously, LeBron being 28 years old, has a long way to go. Regardless, Lebron is playing great basketball right now but if this season doesn’t result in some new jewelry for James, all of this hype will be put to rest at least for now.

When talking about the greatness of Michael Jordan one must look at the teammates and opponents of Jordan and his era. Jordan was part of a big three that consisted of himself as well as Hall of Famers, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. Also, part of this great era are Bird, Magic, The Admiral, The Glove, The Round Mound of Rebound, Mugsy, Ewing, Reggie, Stockton, The Mailman, and the list goes on. Not only was it the golden age of basketball but the golden age of nicknames. Look at the stars of this era and there nicknames, it begins and ends with Paul “The Truth” Pierce. If you want to contest with Jordan’s era, nicknames like “KD, KG, LBJ” are not gonna cut it. One of the greatest players in the history of the game is playing in the current era and what’s the best we can come up with? How ’bout “Kobe”? Are you serious? If you want people to call you by your real name at least change it from Lewis to Kareem.

Don’t get me wrong, LeBron and the current era of basketball is pretty damn good, but LeBron still has 11 years to play before he’s at the age that Jordan hit before walking away from the game (the second time). LeBron has the potential to be the greatest, not only does he score but he distributes the ball, plays defense as well as anyone in the game, and can clean up the glass as well. Jordan, on the other hand averaged 30.7 PPG which is tops in NBA history edging out Wilt Chamberlain who dominated with 30.1 in an era where the competition wasn’t exactly the “Cream of the Crop”. Not to mention Michael Jordan’s ‘down years’ with the Washington Wizards in which he averaged 22.9 and then 20.0 between the ages of 38 and 40 and dragged his career average down.

There’s no saying whether or not LeBron can surpass Jordan, but one ring won’t be enough. I would suggest that unless LeBron gets at least 4 this conversation will die but there are a few things, as of today, that I’m sure of. Michael Jordan was part of the golden age of basketball, the golden age of nicknames, and, at least for now, the greatest player of all-time has his jersey hanging up in LeBron’s gym.

My Starting 5 of all-time (Positions can Vary)

PG: Magic Johnson

SG: Michael Jordan

SF: Larry Bird/LeBron James

PF: LeBron James/ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

C: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar/ Wilt Chamberlain

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