Could LeBron James actually be nearing the legendary Michael Jordan in sports fans’ debate over the best basketball player ever?
According to Jordan’s longtime Hall of Fame wingman Scottie Pippen, King James’ on-court production may already be better than anyone’s in NBA history.
In fact, the former Chicago Bulls star Pippen told ESPN’s “First Take” hosts on Thursday that the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar has likely surpassed the six-time NBA champion Jordan, strictly according to career statistics.
A Bulls teammate during 10 of Jordan’s 15 NBA seasons, Pippen said of James, “The numbers don’t lie. He’s right there. He probably will never catch him (Jordan) in terms of MVP, but in terms of statistics, LeBron is right there. And when you look across the board — not just scoring — check his assists, check his rebounds … he’s probably ahead of Jordan.”
Jordan, known more for his unmatched scoring prowess, averaged an NBA record 30.12 points per game over his career, including averages of 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists. James, who has also drawn comparisons to Hall of Fame point guard Magic Johnson, has put up a well-balanced line of 27.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game throughout his 15-year career.
In overall numbers, Jordan’s 32,292 career points gives him a clear edge over James’ 29,576 points (through games of Dec. 13). But to Pippen’s point, James has overtaken Jordan in career rebounds (7,936 to 6,672) and assists (7,713 to 5,633). However, the Hall of Famer MJ still leads LeBron in career blocks (2,514 to 1,789) despite being listed at 6-foot-6 to James’ 6-9 stature, as well as steals (893 to 848).
Of course, when it comes to the notable resume building, Jordan’s trophy collection (six NBA championships, five league MVP trophies, six NBA Finals MVP awards) still trumps that of James (three NBA titles, three Finals MVPs, four regular season MVPs).