Cavaliers

Finals record shouldn’t be discussed when comparing LeBron to MJ

LeBron James and Michael Jordan will never get to play against one another and prove who’s best. The two, who are considered the greatest of all time, will forever be compared to one another anyway. Who has the most rings? Who beat the better teams? Who had the better teammates? Who lit up the box score the most in the NBA Finals?

All of these questions are fun to discuss. But, let’s be honest, James and Jordan are two completely different players. It’s damn near impossible to compare the two outside of who has the most rings. One of the many things that has been floating around following James’ fifth time losing in the NBA Finals is both James’ and Jordan’s records on the NBA’s biggest stage. While there are plenty of ways to compare the two No. 23s, their records in the NBA Finals should never be one of the things being compared.

Why can’t we judge them by their Finals records? James, while losing five of eight appearances, shouldn’t be criticized for getting there in the first place, even if he didn’t come away victorious. Let’s keep in mind that, like in 2007, the sole reason the Cavs even made the Finals was because of James. When Cleveland was swept by the San Antonio Spurs, the Cavs starters, other than James, were Boobie Gibson, Sasha Pavlovic, Drew Gooden, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The bench players who received major minutes: Damon Jones, Eric Snow, Donyell Marshall, and Anderson Varejao. James should be celebrated for somehow taking a team like that to the Finals, not criticized for losing.

On Monday, the Cavs lost to the Golden State Warriors in five games. Even though Cleveland lost, James was the first player in Finals history to average a triple-double in the series. He was also the first player to lead both teams in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in a playoff series of any length. As he said following Game 5, No. 23 left it all on the court, and I truly believe that. He and the Cavs just went up against the juggernaut Warriors, a team that could go down as the best in NBA history. There was nothing more James could do in order to help his team win back-to-back titles.

Let’s take a look at how he has fared in the postseason so far in his career:

  • Year 1: missed playoffs
  • Year 2: missed playoffs
  • Year 3: won first round (4-2), lost in second round (3-4)
  • Year 4: won first round (4-0), won second round (4-2), won Conference Finals (4-2), lost in Finals (0-4)
  • Year 5: won first round (4-2), lost in second round (3-4)
  • Year 6: won first round (4-0), won second round (4-0), lost in Conference Finals (2-4)
  • Year 7: won first round (4-1), lost in second round (2-4)
  • Year 8: won first round (4-1), won second round (4-1), won Conference Finals(4-1), lost in Finals (2-4)
  • Year 9: won Finals
  • Year 10: won Finals
  • Year 11: won first round (4-0), won second round (4-1), won Conference Finals (4-2), lost in Finals (1-4)
  • Year 12: won first round (4-0), won second round (4-2), won Conference Finals (4-0), lost in Finals (2-4)
  • Year 13: won Finals
  • Year 14: won first round (4-0), won second round (4-0), won Conference Finals (4-1), lost in Finals (1-4)
  • 12 seasons in the playoffs
  • Never lost in the first round, lost in second round three times, lost in Conference Finals one time, lost in Finals five times, won title three times
  • Only been swept once, in the Finals
  • 12-0 in the first round
  • 9-3 in the second round
  • 8-1 in Conference Finals
  • 3-5 in Finals

Jordan was 6-0 in the Finals, which is quite an impressive feat, but that also means he lost prior to the Finals a lot more than James has (and most likely ever will). James never lost in the first round (though he missed the playoffs twice on the rebuilding Cavs); Jordan not only lost three times in the opening round, but was swept twice in the first round.

Let’s take a look at Jordan’s postseason record throughout his career:

  • Year 1: Lost in first round (1-3)
  • Year 2: Lost in first round (0-3)
  • Year 3: Lost in first round (0-3)
  • Year 4: Won first round (3-2), lost in second round (1-4)
  • Year 5: Won first round (3-2), won second round (4-2), lost Conference Finals (2-4)
  • Year 6: Won first round (3-1), won second round (4-1), lost Conference Finals (3-4)
  • Year 7: Won Finals
  • Year 8: Won Finals
  • Year 9: Won Finals
  • Year 10: Won first round (3-0), lost second round (3-4)
  • Year 11: Won Finals
  • Year 12: Won Finals
  • Year 13: Won Finals
  • Year 14: Missed playoffs
  • Year 15: Missed playoffs
  • Lost in first round three times, lost in 2nd round 2 times, lost in Conference Finals two times, won title six times
  • Was swept twice, both in the first round
  • 10-3 in the first round
  • 8-2 in the second round
  • 6-2 in Conference Finals
  • 6-0 in Finals

James has gone against tougher competition during his eight trips, including the last seven straight even when comparing across eras.

James and Jordan are two all-time greats. Rather than argue about who may be the better player, how about we start watching James’ greatness and stop taking it for granted before it’s too late. Appreciate the best player in the world as much as you can because retirement may be calling his name four or five years down the road.

Thanks to WFNY’s Andrew Schnitkey for digging up these statistics on each of the series both James and Jordan have played in and their respected records.

  • tsm

    Nicely done. The only fair comparison when judging players of different eras in any sport is to see how much they dominated their peers from their own era. Since the rules, nutrition etc. are usually different, things like championships won as the sole criteria are not appropriate, not to mention in team sports, it is invalid. For example, Jim Brown is now down the list of career rushing leaders, but the rules have changed, the number of games have changed, and he simply dominated his era like no other running back ever. Look at QB’s. The rules have been constantly changed to favor offense, and in particular the passing game. Otto, Unitas and the other stars of the past will not have the raw statistics of the current guys. In baseball, the steroid era has been one of many things to distort statistics. There were years when Ruth by himself out homered entire teams. These are just a few examples. It is fun to argue between Jordan and James, but don’t forget to include Russell, the Big O and others in the discussion. Points count regardless if they are a result of a spectacular play, or just boring good shots and layups. If championships are the measure then Bart Starr won 5 in 7 years, which is far superior to Brady. I don’t know who is the best QB ever, but simply looking at stats or championships are not the end of the argument, just the beginning.

  • RGB

    1 Cavs Championship > 6 Bulls Championships

  • CBiscuit

    Yet another example that sports people are generally dumb in their analyses. Why we even talk about an individual’s game records for a team sport is beyond me. Tom Brady is __ and ___ as a starting QB. Lebron is ___ in the NBA finals. Robert Horry has twenty rings, and Zaza Pachuiliooli is undefeated.

    As an aside, I am 1-0 in Ohio State Rose Bowl victories.

  • chrisdottcomm

    Darko got his ring first; obviously more talented than LeBron.

  • RGB

    And Trent Dilfer is better than Dan Marino.

  • chrisdottcomm

    Demonstrably.

  • JM85

    I’m tired of these debates. The NBA is the only sport they exist in. I prefer to think of LeBron and Jordan as top 5 all time players.

  • Martharrish

    Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj237:
    On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
    !mj237:
    ➽➽
    ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash237HomeTopGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★:::::!mj237..,…

  • Jeweladavis

    Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj101d:
    On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
    !mj101d:
    ➽➽
    ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash101TopLovePay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★:::::!mj101d..,….