LeBron Is More Chamberlain Than He Is Jordan

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game 6Friday’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) LeBron James isn’t Michael Jordan.

Even if he lived up the bawdy proclamation that he issued four years ago upon taking his talents to South Beach and was to actually win, “Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven” NBA championships for the Miami Heat, James still wouldn’t be Jordan.

No one is. Or likely ever will be.

It’s not just because Jordan won six NBA titles that his all-time greatness is so deeply ingrained in the minds of most basketball fans. It’s also the fact that once he got to the NBA Finals, Jordan never lost there.

Not once.

That sterling 6-0 record in the championship round is almost impossible for any player to duplicate — and certainly for James, whose personal record in NBA Finals now sits at a lackluster 2-3 following the Miami Heat’s loss to San Antonio on Sunday.

Fair or not, many will judge James’ all-time greatness in comparison to Jordan by how well he fared on basketball’s biggest stage. Based on those results thus far, a friend of mine this week made the analogy on Facebook that “Jordan is to Russell what LeBron is to Chamberlain.” And while I’d never viewed LeBron James’ legacy through that historical prism before, once I did, I couldn’t have agreed more.

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  1. Obviously, “Wisch” never saw Wilt Chamberlain – or Kareem – play in his prime. This is clearly demonstrated as it is with other “journalists” less than forty years of age, because had he seen Wilt play in his prime he most certainly would not be anointing Michael Jordan “his all-time greatness”.
    Wisch is no question a talented writer, but he remains a blatantly shallow
    researcher and chooses to publish only statistics that give his “stories”
    credence and leave him, I’d surmise, with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
    Wilt’s team losses to Celtic teams were an aggregate of less than 25 points, including a last second miracle shot by Sam Jones in 1962 to beat the Sixers by one point.
    Forty years after he retired at the age of 37, Chamberlain’s name appears in the NBA’s record book 97 times; when he retired following the 1972-73 season, it was 128 times. Wilt and Bill Russell played against each other 142 times throughout their careers. In those head-to-head match-ups, Wilt averaged 28.7 points and 28.7 rebounds per game while Russell posted averages of 14.5 and 23.7 respectively per game. Russell was distraught in the game when Wilt grabbed 55 – FIFTY-FIVE – rebounds against him; Wilt dominated the paint, taking everything in sight. That 55 rebound record still stands today and no one will come near it.
    Wilt scored 135 points in a 24 hour span – 73 against the Bulls and 62 points against the Celtics. It took 22 years for someone to score 50 or more points on consecutive nights. Bernard King did it – back to back 50’s – versus San Antonio and Dallas in 1984.
    Wilt scored 50 or more points 118 times in his career; Michael Jordan is second with 31. Twenty different players have scored 60 or more points in an NBA game. Only four players have scored 60 points on more than one occasion: Wilt 32 times, Jordan five times, Kobe five times, and Elgin Baylor four times.
    Everyone makes a big fuss out of a triple double. How about a triple
    double-double, which Wilt did against the Pistons in 1968! Wilt’s line from that game – 22 points, 25 rebounds and 21 assists; and lets not forget, the NBA didn’t even COUNT blocked shots until after Wilt had retired!
    Anybody, who had the privilege of seeing the great pivot men play in their primes knows, that if all 50 “Greatest Players” were 27 years of age at the same time, Michael Jordan – and anybody else for that matter – would be lucky to get a shot off against Wilt or Kareem in their
    To his credit in this piece, Wisch does give veiled kudos to Wilt, citing among other things, his 22.9 RPG career record, and the fact that Wilt remains the only pivot man ever to lead the league in assists.
    While that is quite gracious for a Jordan disciple, what Wisch FAILS to
    mention is far more telling.
    For the 71/72 regular season – at thirty-six years of age – Wilt averaged 19.6 rebounds per game. Second that season in RPG was Wes Unseld, third was Kareem who also led the league in scoring at 36+ PPG. Point
    being, there were but 17 teams in the league at that time, and you were most likely, facing hall of famers every night; not the Craig Ehlo’s of the NBA!
    Jordan was in Chicago for five years before the Bulls won anything, and that was only after they’d acquired a true pivot man in Bill Cartwright.

  2. these types of works are amazing – when will these silly contextless pointless articles re jordan’s incomparable achievements end?

    “Jordan was perfect in the finals” type banter pervades these types of fawning works – what exactly is the significance of this comment? Is it because of a need to anoint and crown MJ the greatest ever in the face of much history and the reality of the league? NBA marketing at its best!

    First of all, several players have more titles (some have a lot more) than MJ. To be clear, MJ is in my opinion, one of the greatest of all time. This is an obvious reality. But is he singularly, incomparably, unassailably the greatest in absolute terms? No he is not. And what is the point of that anyway? In reality, some others also have equally/comparably worthy claims – Wilt, to me, is at the top of that list. But others have reasonable claims such as Russell, Oscar, Bird, Magic, and Kareem and even possibly some others – all in their own way with stellar careers, production and achievements for both their teams AND as individuals. Speaking of teams – that’s what championships are – titles are TEAM indicators. MJ’s Bulls that won those titles were stellar TEAMS. This is not tennis. Basketball is a team game. Pippen also has 6 titles – how easily we forget Pippen’s impact (not to mention so many others).

    1 – as we said, it’s a team game – jordan’s team’s did nothing without pippen, grant, cartwright, rodman, kukoc, harper, and several other great players and coaching throughout each/both of the 3peats – in fact jordan’s teams were playoff failures and under 500 every year until the reinforcements and stronger supporting casts and gelling, growth and maturity helped the team improve – even then, until the lakers/pistons/celtics were done

    2 – i do agree james is in some ways like wilt – but not in the cynical patronizing way suggested by this article – at least as to being a physically insane athlete and imposing presence with a diverse set of skills unmatched by any of his peers – burdened by high nearly impossible level expectations and the goliath dynamic

    3 – speaking of patronizing – please don’t compare MJ’s teams who played in a diluted expansion era to Wilt’s 2 title teams – the first of which destroyed the greatest dynasty in NBA history in 1966-1967 (the Sixers were the only team in the 60s to defeat the HOF-laden Celtics in the postseason on the way to the title) and 1971-1972 (the Lakers put together the 33 game win streak which STILL stands, and cut through a Bucks team led by Oscar and a PRIME MVP type Kareem in the playoffs with a near-the-end-of-his-career-post-knee-rupture-surgery-11-years-older-than-Kareem Wilt delivering big in the playoffs against

    4 – MJ’s opponents were NOTHING compared to that – Wilt’s teams probably faced more top 50/HOFers in one high stakes playoff series than MJ’s teams did in TOTALITY of the Bulls finals opponents – 91 lakers? old and done. 92 blazers? are you kidding me? 93 suns? outmatched by HOF/top 50 players and supporting casts. 96 sonics? outmatched again. 97/98 jazz? They had the best chance of any Bulls Finals opponent probably – but were still not good enough man by man up and down the roster. Remember the Bulls had Jordan in 95 and the Bulls lost to the Magic in the playoffs, who were then swept by the Rockets – and the year before the Bulls did almost exactly the same record-wise and still made a deep playoff run WITHOUT MJ.

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