Say what you want about LeBron James but he has been one of the more consistent playoff performers throughout his NBA career with an incredible amount of longevity. King James registered his 120th playoff victory Monday night over the Hawks, elevating him past the one any only Michael Jordan in that category.
With a Game 1 win over Atlanta, LeBron James earned his 120th career playoff victory – one more than Michael Jordan. pic.twitter.com/T9XxnhN0Fz
— ESPN (@espn) May 3, 2016
When you take the time to break down LeBron’s postseason resume against Jordan, you see how incredibly similar their resumes are, they in many ways are almost identical except for one important thing, NBA championships.
LeBron James is now 120-63 in 183 career playoff games, a 65.5% winning percentage that includes six NBA Finals appearances and two NBA titles.
Incredibly in Michael Jordan’s postseason career he was 119-60, a 66.4% percent winning percentage. He also made six NBA finals appearances but won an NBA title in all six of those appearances. To be fair though he never had to face the Spurs as LeBron has three times, or the Warriors with the underwhelming roster LeBron had last season.
Here are their career playoff numbers at this point:
Jordan: PPG: 33.4 REB: 6.4 AST: 5.7 STL: 2.1 FG% 48.7 3P% 33.3 FT% 82.8 PER: 28.6 Win Shares: 39.8 Defensive Win Shares: 12.1
LeBron: PPG: 28.1 REB: 8.7 AST: 6.7 STL: 1.7 FG% 47.3 3P% 31.7 FT% 75.2 PER: 27.3 Win Shares: 37.7 Defensive Win Shares: 12.4
Eerily similar numbers that show just how small the gap is between Air Jordan and King James. MJ is a slightly better scorer and shooter, while LeBron is a slightly better rebounder and passer.
Jordan’s final postseason came in 1998 at the age of 34. LeBron is currently 31 and doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon.
No matter what LeBron does he will never come close to having the level of universal acceptance or adoration that Michael Jordan did. Jordan made the NBA the global game it is today and had a more graceful game in contrast to LeBron’s power and explosiveness. With a few more years of playoff success LeBron’s extra longevity will make his resume even more impressive than Jordan’s, except for one thing, championships.
If LeBron James can manage to win a couple more in Cleveland and raise his NBA finals appearance totals to something out of this world like nine or 10, it will be fair to seriously consider giving King James the crown as the greatest player of all-time by the numbers.
This is an honor he will never hold in the hearts and minds of millions of basketball fans young and old around the world though, as he will never be as important to the game of basketball and let’s be honest the business of sports as Michael Jordan. LeBron is also playing the game in a much different era than Michael Jordan did. We now live in a world of social media and a 24/7 news cycle where athletes personal lives are available for public consumption and the nostalgic, Utopian view of world-class athletes being actual role models in society has eroded with every Lance Armstrong or Barry Bonds that has altered that perception.
LeBron James’ level of success and numbers may very well match that of Michael Jordan or surpass it by the time he decides to hang them up, and he reportedly will even star in this generation’s version of Space Jam, but he will never be regarded with the same aura of invincibility or adulation as Michael Jordan, whether that is fair or not.