I consider myself to be old-school. My favorite athletes are guys that I watched while I was growing up, you know, Roger Staubach, John Elway, Ken Griffey Jr, George Brett, Michael Jordan. You get the picture.
I’ve always been under the assumption that there would never be better athletes playing than those that I liked. Elway, Griffey Jr, Jordan…..arguably the best at their craft. But as I have gotten older, something strange has happened. I have begun to appreciate the simple things in sports. Sure, you could say that Jordan was great because he would take over a game and he made it look easy. How many times did you watch him play and you said, “he has that many points? Doesn’t seem like it.” Towards the end of his career, he would make his teammates better.
We’ve seen Elway do some incredible things on the football field. We’ve also watched Brett become the face of the Royals during the heyday of the franchise. And we’ve all seen Junior, with the purest swing that the game has possibly seen, hit bombs and run down fly balls like they were hanging in the air for an eternity.
But what we witnessed last week as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics in seven games to head back the NBA Finals for the 4th consecutive year, was nothing less than spectacular.
James is averaging 34 points a game during the 2018 playoffs. He is also averaging 8.8 assists a game. He has taken over games and he basically beat the #1 seeded Toronto Raptors by himself. When the Celtics were making things difficult for him to score the ball, he found his teammates time and time again. Oh, did I mention that this trip to the NBA Finals will be James eighth in a row?
Eight consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals. That’s unheard of. Yeah, I know, he’s only won the championship three times in his career, but come on, eight years in a row?
Jordan went to six NBA Finals. He won all six times he was there and he won the Finals MVP each time as well. That may never be duplicated. This will be James 9th appearance in the Finals and he has three wins and three MVP awards.
Let’s look at a few regular season stats. Jordan scored 32,292 points during his 19 year career, averaging 1699 points a year. James has scored 28,787 during his 15 year career and he has averaged 1919 points a year. I expect James to surpass Jordan in the year 2020, barring injury. James has 1035 more rebounds than Jordan and he also has 1828 more assists than Jordan.
Even looking at all the numbers, I’m still a pro Jordan guy. But, during game 7 of the Cleveland-Boston series, I felt like I was watching one of the greatest of all time. Maybe he’s not the greatest. Maybe Jordan is. Why don’t we just appreciate them both for what they have accomplished in the NBA and enjoy these last few years of James’ career.