Posted October 09, 2012

Phil Jackson: LeBron James has the potential to match Michael Jordan

NBA

Phil Jackson said that LeBron James has the potential and the “physical attributes” to be better than Michael Jordan by the end of his career. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The outspoken Charles Barkley saying that LeBron James has the potential to be better than Michael Jordan by the end of his career is one thing. On Monday, Jordan’s Hall-of-Fame former coach echoed Barkley’s statements.

In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN Chicago, former Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that James has “all the physical attributes” to match Jordan. He said that much of the comparison when all is said and done would depend on whether James can remain healthy for the rest of his career.

Here’s what Jackson told hosts Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman, via Sports Radio Interviews:

“He’s got all the physical attributes.  I think we all question the prepping that went into LeBron.  His defense was shaky when he was a younger player and finding his way through that direction.  He is a player that can play four positions. Except for perhaps the center spot, which he hasn’t given a shot at yet, he can play those other four positions quite well.

“This is unique; Michael could play three and was very good at all three of those, but as a power player that LeBron can become, I think he has an opportunity to explore and advance some of the status that he has already gained.  Winning six championships is an elusive thing out there and they haven’t won two yet.  [...]

“I have a hard time judging that best player, but I do think that Michael had more moves in the post and he had more of a, perhaps, shooting touch with his back to the basket and all these kind of things that were part of his game.  LeBron has this train out of control when he gets the ball in transition that he can go coast to coast without anyone getting in his way and if they do, he’s going to over run them.  And he’s got the power with the body and he’s developed a left hand that’s extremely good.  There’s a lot of things that you are seeing in the development of this player that leads towards that, but the ideal and the whole reason behind this is what kind of championships are you gonna get from a player like this? Can he match what Michael has done?”

Last week, Barkley gushed about the 27-year-old James, who won his first championship with the Heat last season.

“I do think he can be better than Michael,” Barkley said. “I thought I would never compare somebody to Michael Jordan. But this guy, LeBron James, he does everything well. Michael did everything well. LeBron James is just bigger, stronger, faster. That’s the only difference.”


5 comments
ShaDesir
ShaDesir

its a stupid statement. he's not even close

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuu
Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Why the obsession on figuring out two players who were never simultaneously active?  Given how sports evolve it is completely impossible to determine a goat for any sport.  For basketball there are plenty of people you can make an argument for, but you can't conclusively say they are better than anyone else.  Jordan, if you consider the transcendence of his game at the time,  unique style, overall achievment throughout his career would be at the top of my short list but it all depends on what you value most.  If you are looking for the most dominant at any single moment of time it would be wilt, most championships Bill Russell, greates longevity would be Kareem or Malone.  Also, obviously different players play different positions,  as good as Michael Jordan was as a shooting guard, that isn't going to make him better as a center than any of the great players at that position.  BBall is a team game, and there are 5 players, with not all assuming the same role on a team.

 

In summary, Lebron is an awesome Basketball player, his game is extremely impressive.  Any true fans of the game, although they are certainly allowed to root for him not to get championships, should hope that he doesn't suffer a career shortening injury.  This debate cannot ever completely die, and if Lebron keeps going he will give us plenty to talk about. 

climbaz
climbaz

They are both saying LBJ is physically as good or better than MJ. That's a bit fair. I don't think anyone compares to Jordan's mental toughness and prep though. That's what made him a great player and leader also. Not just his physical talent.

 

MJ also didn't flop and wink :) I can't put Lebron up there with MJ when he plays that game.

 

 

 

RobertB1
RobertB1

LBJ is a better rebounder than MJ .. and stronger ... but with the new anti-flopping rules . ... LBJ would have won nothing at this point .. So yes . LBJ a far better flopper and cry baby ...Otherwise .. MJ 6 NBA titles to a fake 1 .. greater shooting ability and range .. faster . quciker .. can jump higher . better defender .. better passer .. better court vision .. better leadership .. better driver . better finisher .. handles the ball better .. And CLUTCH as any player in NBA history .. And I am a die hard Piston fan . this is coming from the enemy...

RobertB1
RobertB1

Phil Jackson ..... What's the point of you saying LBJ is potentially as good as MJ? To diminish Jordan so that you look better as his head coach? Face if PJ . you never had less than awesome talent .. Come back and head coach the Hornets and then we will see what kind of real championship coach you are ..