AL HAMNIK: In the case of LeBron and MJ, the ring's the thing

2013-05-18T17:30:00Z 2013-05-18T23:34:34Z AL HAMNIK: In the case of LeBron and MJ, the ring's the thingAl Hamnik Times Columnist
May 18, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

You have the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft and money to burn.

So, who do you take -- LeBron James or Michael Jordan?

They are undeniably the game's greatest players ever, but who is the best? Different eras, different league, different rules, but with the same objective: Put the ball in the basket.

So, who would you take?

Having covered both, I can only make comparisons regarding their games. Think new cars. Jordan was a Jaguar, James is a Corvette with a Jeep mentality.

Jordan was a better ballhandler, passer and outside shooter.

James is a better rebounder and attacks the basket like an F5 tornado, going over, around and through all obstacles.

Both were and are explosive scorers.

Jordan's dunks were acrobatic and left you rubbing your eyes in disbelief.

James' thundering dunks shake dust from the rafters.

Both were and are as durable as work boots.

Jordan has six championship rings to stick in your face.

James has one and is within sniffing distance of a second.

Jordan demanded the ball in crunch time and was furious when he didn't get it..

James will occasionally defer to Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade, who seldom disappoint.

Jordan can still be arrogant and evasive in public.

James continues to mature and avoids controversy by taking the high road.

Jordan would physically and verbally abuse some teammates in practice.

James is more of a “team” player in this, his 10th season.

As Jordan aged, he developed an inside game of layups and mid-range jumpers.

James' range at present appears unlimited.

Jordan rarely gave back to the community.

James is heavily involved with several youth charities.

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, in his fifth season, was just a kid when Jordan was unstoppable and the Bulls a dynasty. As to who is the best player ever, he believes James' star will grow even brighter.

“Sometimes, you can really see somebody's character by how they handle a great deal of success,” Spoelstra said. “Sometimes, that softens people. They lose their commitment, lose their work ethic.

“But he came in with just as much of a commitment last year after winning MVP and a championship as he did the year before when we failed in the Finals and all of us were miserable and looking to re-invent ourselves.”

Jordan's awards could've filled a wing or two in the White House, while James is the youngest player in NBA history to post eight 2,000-point seasons.

The 2012-13 regular season was anything BUT that for James -- averaging 26.8 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and shooting 56.5 percent.

Are we looking at the greatest player ever one day?

“What we've talked about with LeBron is not putting a ceiling on him because of his God-given ability, his experiences, his IQ and his work ethic,” Spoelstra said.

“There's no reason he can't continue to improve while in the middle of his physical prime.”

It'll all come down to NBA championships in the end.

The ring's the thing. That's what everyone remembers, not your Sports Center highlights.


This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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