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Barkley says LeBron “bigger, stronger, faster” than Jordan

Oct 4, 2012, 1:27 PM EDT

LeBron James AP

Move over Kobe Bryant, it’s time for the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan comparisons to start ramping up.

And at the front of it all — Charles Barkley. He is on the opening episode of NBA TV’s Open Court” (which first airs next Tuesday) and he says LeBron could be better than Jordan. From the Associated Press.

Jordan is considered by many to be the best player in NBA history. Barkley says he would never compare anyone to the Hall of Famer and six-time NBA champion. But Barkley also says that James is “just bigger, stronger, faster.”

Let’s be clear — LeBron has not lived up to the Jordan standard yet. I don’t believe Barkley thinks it, I don’t believe even LeBron thinks it. But also to be fair, if you are just talking physical gifts, Barkley is right. It’s the mental side that has separated Jordan and LeBron’s career paths.

LeBron’s season last year was about as close to a Jordanesque season as we have seen. LeBron became only the second player (with Jordan) to win a regular season MVP, NBA title, finals MVP and gold medal in the same year. LeBron averaged 21.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. LeBron’s PER of 30.7 was around the number when Jordan was at his peak in Chicago.

Last year LeBron showed a mental maturity that allowed him to really start to reach his potential. And at 27 he is just entering the prime of his career.

But to be talked about with Jordan, or even the other all-time greats, LeBron needs to keep this level of play and winning up over the next five years. He’s not Jordan yet. He really never will be.

But let the discussion begin.

  1. papichulo55 - Oct 4, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Are we considering Jump and Foul Shots as ‘the mental side’ of the game? LBJ will never be able to shoot The Rock like Mike. Period. And, in my book, thats a physical, core basketball skill where Mike is superior to LBJ.

    • paleihe - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:15 PM

      MJ Career Stats:
      FG: .497%
      FT: .835%
      3: .327%

      Lebron Career Stats:
      FG: .483%
      FT: .746%
      3: .331%

      Except for the free throws, their percentages are fairly similar. Jordan wasn’t a great shooter, his fade away became killer when he returned from his first retirement. But, he was never known as being a great shooter.

      • teewinston - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:24 PM

        Great post… But u missed the intangible

        Who do u want taking the final shot of a game 7 to win or loose the championship? There went all those statistics. You usually can’t find Lebron when it big shot time! Sir Charles is very entertaining but he often makes useless comments. A blind man can see Lebron is bigger faster…whatever.

        Ask Charles who takes his last shot in game 7?

      • passerby23 - Oct 4, 2012 at 3:08 PM

        That’s nearly two percentage points higher on FG% for Jordan, which is nothing to sneeze at. When you think about Lebron’s brute strength and size and ability to get to the rim almost at will, the actual shooting numbers between the two are a bit deceptive. If the bulk of Lebron’s shots were from the perimeter, his percentage would be considerably lower. I’m not using that to discredit Lebron’s ability, but if we’re talking pure shooting ability, it’s not even close.

        I agree, the mental game is clearly what separates the two, even in last year’s playoffs. Lebron disappeared in a few games, which Jordan never did. One particular shot which comes to mind is when Lebron was cramping in Game 7 and put up an air ball from 3 that missed by about 2 feet. He followed that up with a big 3 to seal the game, but with the clock winding down and just throwing it up. Do you have any memories of Jordan missing a crunch-time 3 by a couple of feet? I don’t.

        Most importantly, Jordan has broken so many teams’ backs with clutch shot after clutch shot, which Lebron simply hasn’t done at this point in his career.

      • kehnn - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:13 PM

        I looked at Jordan’s statistics for his first 9 seasons (1 extra because of the injury he suffered in his second year, to bring the game count closer)

        In addition to being a better shooter (over 51% from the field) Jordan had
        over 600 more steals (55% more)
        over 2500 more points (13% more)
        over 130 more blocks (24% more)
        almost 300 fewer turnovers (12.8% fewer)

        while Lebron has
        over 800 more assists (20.8% more)
        over 700 more rebounds (15% more)

        even without playoff and finals stats/highlights, I’d be inclined to give Jordan the nod overall. Especially in the atmosphere of physical basketball in which he achieved his statistics.

      • kehnn - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:16 PM

        oh, forgot to mention…Jordan’s numbers were achieved in 22 fewer games than Lebron played.

      • cantonbound13 - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:54 PM

        You are obviously a Heat fan that doesn’t know anything about the NBA. There are many players that have great regular season stats. The superstars come up big in the postseason.

        LeBron: 6-9 career record in the Finals. Lost 2 series, including 4 games in a row in 2 series.
        Fg% 46
        3pt% 31
        Ppg 28

        Jordan: 24-11 career record in finals. Won all six series he lead his team in. Never lost more than 2 games in a finals series.
        Fg% 49
        3pt % 38
        Ppg 33.8

        Stop the comparisons, your embarrassing yourself. Don’t be as pathetic an a$# kisser as Kurt.

      • maximus929 - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:35 PM

        Great Shooter? He was a great shooter when it mattered.

        Bottom line, what is Jordan known for? Winning no matter what and making his team better.

        What is LeBron known for – quitting when the going gets tough.

        And people think LeBron is better than Jordan? Cmon man!

      • cpaulii - Oct 5, 2012 at 3:10 AM

        are you insane, you can not compare Lebron to Kobe none the less to MJ. 8 years in the league and still can not make and outside shot.
        do yourself a favor and Look for Lebron’s outside fg % in the past finals.( I’ll give you a hint: it was in the teens).

      • vikes69 - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:23 PM

        lebron FG % is good cuz 80% of his shots were in the paint…. he is not a shooter at all… he has bricked more 3’s than he has made

  2. cakemixa - Oct 4, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    I was wondering how long it would be before the first big, “controversial” Lebron vs MJ comparison of the season…

  3. edgarh21 - Oct 4, 2012 at 1:58 PM


    • eventhorizon04 - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      I get the joke you’re trying to make, but Jordan had a completely shaved head, so…

  4. rexgrossman8 - Oct 4, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Not disputing the physical talents of LJ. The eyeball test validates relative to his peers. LJ is bigger weight and height than Jordan. That’s just simple math.

    Difficult to say LJ will be better than MJ since late 80’s and 90’s were more physical. Flagrants from the 80’s and 90’s would have you suspended for 12 games.

    It’s easy to look faster and to be perceived stronger if the rules favor offense and spacing and minimize what the defense can do. In drawing a football analogy — a reach — you’ll look more impressive in a scrimmage than a real game.

    They said the same thing about Larry Johnson before he hurt his back on the Hornets and Vince Carter before he retired 10 years ago…nice debate to have but doesn’t matter to the bottom line of winning.

  5. shockexchange - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Too bad this isn’t Track & Field

  6. thestewman3 - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Why this constant need to compare the two every freakin week? Let Lebron be himself and enjoy.

  7. poohman1975 - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    There is no discussion. He is bigger, stronger, and faster in a time where athletes are more physically gifted but don’t have the passion, awareness, or leadership of the past players. LeBron would be average if he played in the 80’s and 90’s. Hell, he can’t even hold Scottie Pippen’s jock.

  8. papichulo55 - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    @pailihe, a better comparison would be to use the number of years, not career stats. LBJ aint got old yet! Legs are real important for jump shooting.

  9. logneezy - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:43 PM


  10. 1972wasalongtimeago - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Said it before, I’ll say it again. You know you’re the best of all time when the only one who might be better than you can never possibly play you.

    • cantonbound13 - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:21 PM

      Another thing you’ve said that is ridiculous.

  11. fballlvr22 - Oct 4, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Thanks for the insight Chuck. You’re a wise man.

  12. papichulo55 - Oct 4, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    You’re right, of course. A pointless, but entertaining, debate, because everybody who truly knows the game knows that Wilt is the true GOAT!

    • paleihe - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      Wilt isn’t GOAT.

      You have to consider the competition he was playing against. There was nobody close to his ability, in that era way back when. If he played today, he’d basically be Dwight Howard. Not that being D-12 is bad in any way, but they’re both not close to being GOAT.

      • camnellum12 - Oct 5, 2012 at 1:21 PM

        Um, what? He was 7’1 275 lbs, and way more athletic than Dwight and even his offensive game was better than Howard’s. To rephrase what you said, he’d be Shaq, but always in shape and would be an active rebounder and defender.

      • hoopshort - Oct 6, 2012 at 6:04 PM

        You need to look up and watch Wilt’s athleticism when he played for Globetrotters before playing in the NBA. Also you might want to research your assumption that their was no competition, their were actually more low-post strong centers in his time then you have now.

  13. nokoolaidcowboy - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    Barkley – Fatter, dumber and willing to cross dress for commercials.

    • 24thesho - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:30 PM

      You are an absolute idiot for making that statement.

  14. opinevain - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Maybe at the age of 27 i’m finally going through dementia, but this article and storyline is written every year. We all know he is bigger and stronger and faster than Jordan. It doesn’t take a genius to know. This story must be for new basketball watchers who may not know that Lebron is always compared to Jordan. The minute a HOF player compares the two, its a headline.

  15. packfaninvikeland - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    You guys clearly cant read. Barkley said Lebron is Bigger, stronger, faster than Jordan..which is all true! Please help me find the part where he said Lebron was “better”? Anyone? Talk about knee jerk reactions. If you cant read what was actually said you shouldn’t comment.

    • opinevain - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      Its on the other sports station website that can’t live without Tebow Talk and Romo

  16. miamatt - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    Sheesh I wish we could leave this alone for another 5-6 years. Physically, and in terms of what he’s doing RIGHT NOW, a MJ comparison is fair, albeit they play vastly different styles. But in terms of legacy MJ is still untouchable. I’m as big an LBJ fan as you’ll find, but it’s unfair to both players to make the comparison while LBJ is just 27 and fresh off championship #1. Still, if any current player can catch Jordan, it’s Lebron. Kobe is closest to Michael stylistically and in terms of titles in the here and now, but I don’t see him ever equaling Jordan in the public consciousness.

    And LeBron averaged 27.1 PPG, not 21.7, please fix *editors*.

  17. opinevain - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Reblogged this on Vain's Opine and commented:
    They compare this shit every year!

  18. eventhorizon04 - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    Frankly, I don’t get why this is a news article.
    LeBron is 6’8″ and 270 lbs.
    MJ was 6’6 and 220 lbs or so
    So LeBron is bigger and stronger.

    Faster is a fair debate – I think MJ in his prime would beat LeBron in a footrace, but there wouldn’t be a huge speed gap.
    However, MJ would win in an agility/”quickness” contest.

    Critics of LeBron usually concede that he’s a freak athlete – they’ve just questioned his commitment to winning.

  19. deiong - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    he might be bigger and fatter and chunkier then jordan, but hes def not faster. one thiing jordan has that lebron doesnt is he makes his teammates better. lebron cant even comprehend how to make his teammates better. who has a defensive player of the year aaward? and who doesnt?? who has a legacy of quiting and begging others to help him get a ring?? dont think lebron will ever depart from the quiter and take teh easiest way to victory route,. jordan preservered, cant respect a person who quites to take the easiest way out. sure hes a heck of a skilled player, but he will never be in the top 10 players to ever play. how can someone who doesnt make his team better, who quites, who takes the easy way out ever be?? only thing hes done is tell people its ok to quit and take the easy way out.

    • redbullenergydrink - Oct 4, 2012 at 9:37 PM

      You obviously do not know what you’re talking about if you’re saying LeBron does not make his teammates better. Ever seen him play before? Serious question here.

      • deiong - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:50 PM

        yea ive seen him make his whole cav team better so much that he tucked his tail between his legs and stormed out of there, and his whole heat team better, so much so that stern had to step into fix the mess.. next…

      • deiong - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:53 PM

        jordan did take a decent good player and make him a star in fact so much so that he was included in top 50.. pippen. who has lebron made better?? umm lets see… ummmmmmm yea …

  20. lakerluver - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    1.Magic Johnson
    2.Michael Jordan
    3.Kobe Bryant
    4.Kareem Abdul Jabbar
    5.Wilt Chamberlin
    6.Elgin Baylor
    7.Jerry West

    • donivantrip - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:58 PM

      You really are the dumbest user on the forum.

    • yourfutureanalyst1 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:33 AM

      HHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! @lakerluver: Are you secretly Magic Johnson?

  21. papichulo55 - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    @packfaninvikeland, please share with everyone your source that proves that LBJ is bigger, faster and stronger than MJ. has compared the height, weight, wingspan, reach, bodyfat, hand length, no step vert, max vert, max vert reach, bench, agility and sprint for NBA draftees since 1989. No stats for MJ from 1984, and LBJ didnt fully partiipate in 2003. Since I dont believe that you can provide us with these stats, I will save you a seat in the Reading and Comprehension class. You can sit next to me.

  22. maximus929 - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    So let’s see is it five fewer or four fewer championships that LeBron has?

  23. paulhargis53 - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:39 PM

    nice homeristic list there sausage wallet.
    Way to ignore the test of the franchises.
    6 out of 7 players are Lakers.

    This is why you can’t be taken seriously.
    You leave out Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Julius Erving, Larry Bird, and a few others.
    You have no sense of history of the NBA, hell, Jerry West wouldn’t have made your list until I schooled you on him a month ago.
    God, you are on ignorant sob.

    • camnellum12 - Oct 5, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      I agree with you, but Juilus Erving isn’t a top 10 player. Hakeem and Baylor are in front of him.

      • hoopshort - Oct 6, 2012 at 6:15 PM

        The NBA fan missed the Dr.s highest flying years because of the ABA. He was an unbelievable offensive talent. Get some old Nets or Virginia Squires film.

  24. justwannawinna - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    Lebron will never be like MJ he’s more like magic who knew how to pass the ball, a lesson Jordan learned the year he won his first title. Lebron won’t have the Kobe or Jordan work ethic because he relies too much on his physical skills to win. But if he ever does realize that potential and has the work ethic we really will be talking about be greatest ever. Period.

  25. paulhargis53 - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    Some of Wilts competition.
    Bill Russel
    Willis Reed
    Wes Unseld
    Elvin Hayes
    Dolph Schayes
    Nate Thurmond
    Walt Bellamy
    Bob Lanier

    All except Bellamy and Lanier appeared on the 1st 50 greatest players list.
    Your proclamation of “no competition” is wrong.
    Wilt was fouled hard and often. Hell, just read up on this stuff. There is no excuse for ignorance on NBA history. It’s all on the world wide web. Wilt wad a physical beast. He would start and be head and shoulders above any center today.

    Scoff if you like, but do some research. He was strong, fast and agile. Wilt and Russell are 1 and 1A for GOAT . It’s a steep dropoff to #2 .

    • yourfutureanalyst1 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:41 AM

      You seriously think Wilt and Russell are 1 and 1A for G.O.A.T.?

    • paleihe - Oct 5, 2012 at 2:23 PM

      If the top 50 list had to be redone, it’s difficult to put anyone other than Wilt, Kareem, and Russel on it from the list you specified. And Kareem and Wilt only played in the league at the same time for about four years (Wilt was closer to retiring). Dolph Schayes played against Wilt for basically three years. Schayes was a 6-7 F-C. W Reed was a 6-9 F-C. Wilt stood at 7-1.

      The competition just wasn’t there. Those are names from the old days days, and to me, they just don’t stack up as real competition for him. Schayes would be a modern day David Lee. Decent, but nowhere close to the competition a GOAT needs to challenge himself.

      To me this is like the baseball discussion of whether Babe Ruth would be an incredible baseball player in this era.

      Wilt was definitely a beast though, no argument there. I just don’t think he’s GOAT. The best center to me was Hakeem Olajuwon.

    • jimeejohnson - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:32 PM

      I was definitely wrong about you. Anyone with historical perspective makes more sense than anyone without.

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