LeBron James — who's been nicknamed "King James" since high school — and the Miami Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls on Thursday to advance to the NBA finals, further cementing James' reputation as basketball royalty. Now, none other than Scottie Pippen, who won six NBA titles alongside Michael Jordan, tells ESPN that James, perhaps "the greatest player to ever play the game," is a more complete player than Jordan. Pippen later tweeted a clarification, saying "Don't get me wrong, MJ was and is the greatest. But LeBron could by all means get to his level someday." Despite the qualification, commentators went crazy:
This is "borderline insanity": Remembering Jordan as anything less than the greatest ever is outlandish, says Adam Lazarus at Bleacher Report. James may have a slight edge in rebounding and distributing the ball, but in addition to his prolific scoring, Jordan was also a great defender — and he routinely faced tougher competition than James does. Most importantly, Jordan delivered a string of "iconic moments" when the NBA title was on the line. I could understand if some 21-year-old who never saw Jordan play had said this, but not "the man who played next to Jordan for a decade!"
"Is Scottie Pippen right about James being better than Jordan?"
LeBron's not there... yet: "Whoa, there, Scottie, let's not go nuts," says Matt Moore at CBS Sports. James is unquestionably a great player, and he may already be one of the 10 best to ever play the game, but let's see him win a championship — or six — before we go overboard.
"Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT"
James is the best "next Michael Jordan": The NBA has been looking for "the next Michael Jordan" since the last of Jordan's championships in 1998, says Henry Abbott at ESPN. It's time to call off the search. LeBron has a lot of baggage after coming up empty in Cleveland — and then abandoning his home state — but still, if you just watch him play, it's clear how great James is. Both Jordan and James are "other-wordly players," but James is playing in an era where media scrutiny and criticism are much more unforgiving.
"LeBron James is the next Michael Jordan"