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LeBron could equal remarkable Jordan record with Olympic gold

Jul 7, 2012, 10:02 AM EDT

LeBron James Team USA Getty Images

In 1992, Michael Jordan had a year as great as any basketball player ever. He averaged 30 points a game shooting 51.9 percent to win the NBA MVP, then carried that over to the playoffs where he led the Bulls to an NBA Championship. In the process, he was named the NBA finals MVP. Then after a couple weeks off he joined up with the original Dream Team and went on to win Olympic gold.

No player had ever done that before.

LeBron James could do it this year.

LeBron averaged 27 points a game on 53.1 percent shooting and took on a larger role with the Heat on both ends of the floor, which led him to be named MVP. Then he carried that level of play through the post season to lead the Heat to the NBA title where he was unanimously named NBA finals MVP.

All he needs now is a gold medal to become the second person in history to have a year like that. (Hat tip to Tim Reynolds of the AP for pointing this out.)

Through everything LeBron has done and said since coming to Miami, my main point has been this — we do not yet know what his legacy will be. Well, I mean outside of Cleveland. He is an elite player in the prime of his career for the next five years and what we will think of him a decade from now and where he fits on the list of the NBA’s all time greats will be determined by these years.

And if he can equal Jordan with this amazing year, that will be part of his legacy, too.

  1. ccshocktalk - Jul 7, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    That was a phenomenal year by Michael, and another one by LeBron. At the end of the day, I wish these comparisons would cease. Sports writers, bloggers etc. There will never be another Michael. However, there will forever be players who model their game around Michael’s. They will emulate Michael because he was the greatest ever. Not just because of his stats, but because he transformed the game. He was 6’6″ maybe 225…LeBron is a physical freak at 6’8″ 250 in a league that is a whole lot softer than it used to be. Michael played against some of the greatest to ever play the game, and in an era where the bad boys reigned with physical play that would get them kicked out of the NBA in today’s standards.

    watch around the 2:04 mark where Michael takes it right at a young Shaq. And numerous other times he gets swarmed by the entire teams defense in the air, and he still cuts through it like butter and lays it in without even seeing the hoop.

    LeBron is still early in his career, just hitting his prime and who knows, he may get up their with Jordan’s stats, but he’ll never transform the game the way Michael did. Until kids stop saying,” I want to be like Mike because LeBron is better,” his Airness will remain the best.

    • p1nch3dloaf - Jul 7, 2012 at 7:31 PM

      Great highlights, hated him for burying the Blazers, but he was gracefully unstoppable. He made it an artform…LeBron’s more of a bull in a china shop.

  2. thehoodchamp - Jul 7, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    Gonna be a heck of a tournament. Kobe LeBron and Durant are gonna be a deadly trio.

  3. mrphootball - Jul 7, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Better question is who cates? Please stop making comparisons to the greatest player of all time .

    • cullenand99 - Jul 7, 2012 at 4:06 PM

      Yes, mrphootball. I was thinking the same thing. Who cates?

  4. watermelon1 - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    6 consecutive rings, could have been 8 if he didnt take 2 years off.

    Compared to 1 ring.

    Just remember… lebron wears Jordan’s number. Jordan never wore Lebron’s number.

    Call lebron a king if that makes you feel better, but as far as basketball is concerned, Jordan is the almighty. The holy spirit. The G-O-D.

    • BigBeachBall - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:37 AM

      didn’t know “god” couldn’t hit a curve ball.

    • danh35 - Jul 7, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      When comparing rings, you have to remember how young Lebron is, he is still only 27 years old. At age 27, Jordan had no rings, no Finals appearances. At age 27, Lebron has 1 ring and 3 Finals appearances.

  5. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Any talk that since Jordan didn’t get it done in ’84, he needed to “join forces ” with Magic, Larry, Barkley, and all the rest to win his Gold medal?

    • rtfinch - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:19 AM

      about the same as lebron not getting it done in 2004. nice try though.

    • ccshocktalk - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      Um, Michael did get it done in 1984 in LA…and they were all college kids. If you are referring to when we lost in 1988, Michael was not a part of that team that lost to the Soviets. So, Michael has never lost and decided because he lost that he needed to join superstars…LeBron…he did. He lost in 2006 and got the bronze medal in the world championships (with a loaded roster) Chris Paul, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, LeBron, Carmelo, Dwight Howard…accompanied by Kirk, Shane Battier, Joe Johnson and Antawn Jamison.

      http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/countries/USA/summer/1984/BAS/

      And this isn’t about whether Michael joined up with the greatest players in America to dominate the rest of the worlds players, this is about LeBron trying to emulate everything Michael has ever done.

      Michael will always be the gold standard of basketball players, if you can’t handle that you better just get over it.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:42 AM

        For some reason I thought Bobby Knight cut him from the team. My bad. Either way, I was just messing around, pressing ant-LBJ fan’s buttons. Michael’s the best………

        Although……..

        Take Michael in his prime. Life on the line. You can pick one player to defend him. Any era. Any size. One player, in his prime. Stop Michael Jordan or die.

        Who you got?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 7, 2012 at 1:11 PM

        1972…you aren’t seriously going to tell me that LeBron would have been able to stop Jordan with the game on the line are you? I’m not a LBJ hater but get real. He is a great defender but NOBODY in NBA History could stop Jordan in his prime. He scored double digits what like 9,000 games in a row? Wilt may have been more dominant against a bunch of white guys half his size. But NOBODY could stop MJ when he wanted to score.

        I guess if my life was on the line and I HAD to pick SOMEONE…honestly…I’d probably pick Pippen. Since he was jealous of him an probably went against him every day he knew him better than anybody.

      • cantonbound13 - Jul 7, 2012 at 2:48 PM

        Hey ’72, I’m starting to think you never got to see MJ in his prime. With today’s sissified rules, MJ would average 50 points a game. Nobody would stop him.

  6. drewsylvania - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Whatever. He’ll never be Jordan.

  7. acdc363 - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Well I for one am hoping Lebron matches MJ’s record. Go USA!

  8. triggerlock45 - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    ^ I’d take Scottie Pippen.

  9. ccshocktalk - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    “1972wasalongtimeago – Jul 7, 2012 at 11:42 AM
    For some reason I thought Bobby Knight cut him from the team. My bad. Either way, I was just messing around, pressing ant-LBJ fan’s buttons. Michael’s the best………

    Although……..

    Take Michael in his prime. Life on the line. You can pick one player to defend him. Any era. Any size. One player, in his prime. Stop Michael Jordan or die.

    Who you got?”

    Michael Jordan said his toughest defender was always Joe Dumars…I think that should answer that question. Jordan also played in an era where the rules truly were, no blood no foul. Go watch how the bad boys played in Detroit, and the things they did to Jordan that nobody would dare do to even a rookie in today’s NBA. Guys today…they’re living in a fantasy world compared to the old NBA.

    • ccshocktalk - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:57 AM

      and if not Joe Dumars, it would be interesting to see Pippen guard Jordan.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Jul 7, 2012 at 5:37 PM

        Dumars was 6’3 190 pounds. Now, he’s about 250, but then, not so much. Craig Ehlo? Byron Russell? Who’d the Knicks have, John Starks?

        Pippen is interesting. That’s probably the best one. Unless of course you can find someone 6’8 275 lbs who are lightning quick, super strong, and super smart. If only there was someone out there like that. Someone who could out muscle, out jump, and out run MJ.

        The kind of guy who can shut down Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard. That type of player, just doesn’t exist, does he?

      • rtfinch - Jul 9, 2012 at 11:26 AM

        with todays rules? lebron would foul out in the 3rd quarter. jordan had a mid range or could run past you.

    • badintent - Jul 8, 2012 at 1:58 AM

      This is so easy ! Ask Isiah about the 50 stiches and concussion Karl Malone put on him. ANd not one Piston did crap about it !! Next Question ??

  10. centraldutch - Jul 7, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    LeBron can never win an NCAA title either. How many players have high school, college,Olympic
    and NBA titles? Michael Jordan, Quinn Buckner, anyone else?

  11. ljl2 - Jul 7, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    wasn’t it not done before Jordan because NBA players didn’t play in the Olympics at the time? there’s only been 5 Olympics so far with NBA players. not really a large sample size.

  12. canehouse - Jul 7, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    @ watermelon1… so somehow in your twisted alternate universe… you have jordan the player going to the future watching Lebron and deciding not to wear the number 6… but of course Lebron once dawned the glorious 23… can’t blame him… Jordan inspired so many by his play and dominance… that most players in the league would have no problem paying homage to his “Airness” by wearing his number 23.

  13. cantonbound13 - Jul 7, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    When LeBron gets more rings than Magic, Larry or even Kobe, then you might want to add him in the same conversation as Michael. Until then, there is zero comparison. Michael did not have to team up with Bird, Magic, Olajuwon or any other top player to get his rings.

    • teenote - Jul 7, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      We cant compare Jordan to lebron they are two different kind of players. Give labron more time he’ll get more rings. Jordon didn’t get all his rings in one year. And if you would’ve put Jordan on the Cleveland team leBron had to play with he would’ve had a ring at all. But if lebron had the team Jordan had his hand would be full of rings too.

      • teenote - Jul 7, 2012 at 4:35 PM

        I meant to say jordan wouldn’t have gotten a ring playing for the same Cleveland team lebron had to play for.

      • rtfinch - Jul 9, 2012 at 11:30 AM

        jordan made everyone better. lebron had all-stars in cleveland and couldnt win with them. is that talent? or just lack of coaching? how about lack of a leader.

    • ivo610 - Jul 7, 2012 at 5:17 PM

      No Jordan didnt, he had Pippen (any argument he wasnt an elite player will not be taken seriously). So rings are the thing huh? So where does that leave Horry? Or Russell?

      Seems a little unfair for people to take MJs entire career and compare it to LBJs career when he is only 27. Anyone want to compare a 27 yr old MJ to a 27 year old LBJ? Seems more of a reasonable discussion.

    • danh35 - Jul 7, 2012 at 7:52 PM

      So Pippen wasn’t a top player? Jordan was fortunate because the Bulls were smart enough to build around him with quality players, and unfortunately for Lebron, Cleveland wasn’t. Do you think that Jordan would have stayed in Chicago if the Bulls surrounded him with bad players that wouldn’t let him compete for a championship?

    • robdolphins - Jul 8, 2012 at 9:14 AM

      How many rings before Pippen? MJ is awesome, but be fair.

  14. ceschatz - Jul 7, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    @cantonbound,
    So youre saying wade and bosh compare to the greatest of all time? Jordan, bird and magic were teamed up with hall of famers to win their rings. Your idiotic comparisons make no sense. You just look for excuses to hate the heat. Get a life.

  15. fanz928 - Jul 7, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    Heats can now compare rosters with the 91′ bulls except bulls had like 5 hof players heats have like 4

    • scalfor3 - Jul 8, 2012 at 8:21 PM

      the bulls had 5 hof players? wow luc longley was better than i remember

  16. p1nch3dloaf - Jul 7, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    …not gonna lie, I rooted for him to choke in the Finals…but The Olympics is a different story… USA!…USA!!…USA!!!

  17. jh4prez - Jul 7, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Lebron ofcourse ;) http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xnxz3acXM6w

  18. jh4prez - Jul 7, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    Lebron ofcourse http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xnxz3acXM6w

  19. sloiggles - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    fanz928 July 7, 2012, 3:04 PM PDT

    Heats can now compare rosters with the 91′ bulls except bulls had like 5 hof players heats have like 4

    I count two HOF players with Jordan. Pippen and Rodman ( though he wasn’t there in ’91). Who makes the other three? Horace Grant? BJ Armstrong? John Paxson? Please elaborate because I’m dying to know whether Bill Cartwright will make the HOF.

  20. davidly - Jul 8, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    Putting aside his accomplishments and the number of wins he was able to rack up, the thing that makes MJ the best for me was his skill with the ball going every direction and at every spot on the court.

    His game flowed so much more smoothly than those being compared to him now. I just think he was a more talented basketball player; as if he had been built to play the game.

  21. robdolphins - Jul 8, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    Why the hate for Lebron? Fans root for players that beat their ladies,drink and drive, and many other crimes…But, Lebron does a decision show and later admits it was mistake…even though that mistake made money for disadvantage kids. Oh, so he said haters will have to back to their miserable lives after being pressed by reporter right after losing in the 2011 Finals..I think it is jealously. I do not mind it if someone says, ” I hate him because he is great.” I root against all the greats that do not play for Miami teams or my lone favorite team out of the Miami market..The Red Sox…Admit it!

    • davidly - Jul 8, 2012 at 12:36 PM

      If it’s real hate you’re talking about the answer is easy: it’s irrational. Hate is always irrational. Add to that the dynamic on the web, and well…

      Other than that, much of the genuine animosity being expressed is explicable for reasons that go beyond jealousy.

      Frankly, I couldn’t care less; I just think MJ was a more aesthetically pleasing player to watch.

  22. golfrangeman - Jul 8, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    Kurt isn’t comparing lebron to mj he’s comparing achievements and those are facts. Lebron has never compared himself to mj as a matter of fact he went out of his way to change to #6 in honor of mj

  23. asublimeday - Jul 9, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Ugh. Don’t make me root against the US

  24. ceschatz - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    Allstars in Cleveland? Hahahaha. I love when people who dont know basketball come in here and post comments.

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