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Thibodeau sides with Jordan over LeBron. At least for now.

Oct 24, 2012, 8:20 AM EST

Chicago Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau yells out during the first quarter of their NBA pre-season basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Chicago, Illinois Reuters

Oh good, more LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan discussion. Because we haven’t beat Man O’ War enough.

At least this time the opinion comes from Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who had to coach against both (he was an assistant with the Knicks in the ‘90s). He was asked about it Tuesday night and he used logic in his answer — Maybe we should wait until LeBron is closer to the end of his career before we define it and compare him to the all-time greats.

Here’s the quotes, via Aggrey Sam at CSNChicago.com.

“They’re different, but I think with all those type of comparisons, those are tough to make because I don’t think you can do it until LeBron’s done, so to speculate now, I guess it makes for interesting conversation. But you have to wait. And they’re both great, and what Jordan did was incredible, but who knows?…. Kobe’s had a great career, LeBron’s had a great career and LeBron’s still young, so there’s still a long way to go for him. But Jordan kept so much pressure on you in so many different ways and it’s a different game now than it was. Back then, it was a lot more physical than it is today.

“I would say [Jordan was the toughest player to game-plan against], because of all the problems that he caused and the way he dominated, to win six championships and unfortunately, I was a part of the other end of that with the Knicks and those were some great battles, and I thought we had a great team in New York, but what he did was just incredible. But you can make a case for a lot of guys and like I said, we have to wait until a guy’s career is over before we draw any comparisons.”

Wait until we all the facts before we jump to conclusions? What a quaint notion, Thibs.

LeBron is not yet near Jordan’s iconic legacy and likely never reaches that level. But the fact that we are even debating this, that we are comparing him to Jordan in a serious way, shows how far LeBron has brought his game. He has matured mentally enough to take advantage of physical gifts that even Jordan couldn’t match. But what separated Jordan wasn’t physical, it was mental, and we’re not sure LeBron can really achieve that.

Or, we could wait and have this conversation closer to the end of LeBron’s career. Like Thibs suggested.

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