Refuting Colin Cowherd’s Video On the Jordan v. LeBron Debate

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A friend of mine shared a video with me recently via Facebook. The video is just another one of Colin Cowherd’s very hot button topic videos, in which he takes a provocative stance on the LeBron v. Jordan debate. Here is a rundown of every flaw in the video that I caught.

“LeBron has become, this year, a 36% three point shooter…”

That is his season mark – NOT HIS CAREER! Michael Jordan had a season where he shot 50% from three, and from 1992 to 97 he shot 39%. Kobe had three different seasons where shot above 36%. Even Magic Johnson shot above that WHEN HE HAD AIDS in the 96 season.

“… and 45% in the playoffs”

Dwyane Wade shot 52.2% in the playoffs last season I don’t see people saying he’s a better shooter than M.J.

“He is now a better three-point shooter than Kobe Bryant, who was a significantly better three point shooter than Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. [LeBron] is now  better three point shooter than Michael, considerably. That is not a small thing.”

Kobe Bryant is not Stephen Curry. Three pointers are not the only way for him to score. Points from three pointers account for only 15% of LeBrons, 16% of Kobe’s, and 5% of MJ’s career points. It Is a “small thing.” Why is this something to get hung up on? Even if so, I already talked about how MJ, Kobe, and even Magic Johnson and Dwyane Wade have had better shooting seasons. Actually, at this very age of 32 years old for LeBron, M.J. shot 42.7% from three with more points scored as well. LeBron in his Cleveland Career and Jordan in his Bulls career both shot 33% from three. In terms of Kobe being a “significantly better shooter than Michael Jordan,” Kobe shot .2% better from three over the course of his career than M.J., and taking away M.J.’s rookie season from his career numbers, M.J. actually outperformed Kobe from three, IN AN ERA WHERE THREE POINT SHOOTING WAS NOT AS IMPORTANT.

“Bigger and Stronger than all of them. A better passer and rebounder.”

If Size was the greatest predictor of success than the GOAT conversation would be between Shaquille O’Neal, Manute Bol, and Yao Ming. A better passer and rebounder is an unbacked claim – if Jordan wanted to pass and rebound he could have, instead he was busy not losing in the finals or resting for games.

“He’s gonna blow Michael away in points, rebounds, assists, finals appearances.”

Yeah, you know what else he’s gonna blow Michael away in? GAMES and MINUTES. LeBron is only 11 games shy of MJ’s career mark (1072 MJ vs. 1061 LeBron,) and LeBron has ALREADY played more minutes than Jordan (41011 for Jordan vs. 41272 for LeBron.) SORRY FOR EXPECTING LEBRON TO PRODUCE IN HIS PLAYING TIME. LeBron has also only played one less season than M.J., and has won three less finals. If Jordan played during both the 94 and 95 seasons as well as the seasons from 99-2001, you can bet top dollar Jordan would have produced, gone to the finals, and won, just like he did every other year during the 1990s.

Larry Bird inherited three good players in Cedric Maxwell, Tiny Archibald, and Dave Cowens.”

Archibald averaged 11 points per game the year before the Celtics got Bird. Maxwell played the same position as Bird, and flamed out with the team because of contract disputes two years after Bird joined him. Cowens played one season with Bird before retiring.

“Dr. J inherited a hall of famer: George McGinnis

Why does he go off on these tangents??? Dr. J is not in the GOAT discussion. Neither is Tim Duncan or Karl Malone, or these other players brought up. McGinnis didn’t even make the hall of fame until 28 years after his eligibility, and he was inducted for his ABA career not his NBA accomplishments. Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Mo Williams, the so called “no help” LeBron received had as many all-star appearances WITH LeBron as McGinnis in the NBA, and MORE than McGinnis had WITH Erving in the NBA. I’m not even going to begin on the help LeBron had from former all-stars Antawn Jamison, Shaquille Oneal, and the luxary of quality role players he had.

“M.J. inherited two good players – Orlando Woolridge, who averaged 23 points in Jordan’s rookie year and Quintin Dailey averaged 16.”

Are you kidding me? 95% of NBA fans couldn’t tell you who either of those two players were – especially Dailey. Those guys were the definition of empty box score producers. LeBron had THREE players who averaged over 15 HIS rookie season: Ilgauskas, Ricky Davis, and Carlos Boozer. I guarantee you everybody who cares about the NBA enough to watch this video knows who Carlos Boozer is. Both Boozer AND Ilgauskas went on to be all-stars after LeBron’s rookie season. Cant say that about anyone on the 85 Bulls. In fact, statistically speaking, the Bulls would have been better off with a player who is statistically exactly at the league average than with Dailey. Dailey produced negative marks in both Offensive (-0.3) and Defensive (-2.5) Box Plus/Minus. Both Woolridge and Dailey had a negative -1.4 combined box plus/minus. LeBron didn’t even lead the Cavaliers in win shares his rookie season! Boozer did! In fact the margin Jordan led the Bulls in win shares by (14-9=5.0) was almost has many win shares as LeBron had in general (5.1,) which he got at a win share rate (.078) below the league average (.100).

“But by Year three, Michael Jordan had a hall of famer Horace Grant, Charles Oakley, and Scottie Pippen.”

The Bulls traded for Oakley and Pippen in the draft. Those were not selections the Bulls made. Horace Grant, coincidentally, was taken 10th overall in the draft – the EXACT same pick the Cavaliers used in the 2004 Draft to take Luke Jackson. Al Jefferson, Kevin Martin, Trevor Ariza, Josh Smith, JAmeer Nelson, J.R. Smith, and Tony Allen were just a few of the players that went afterwards. Don’t hate on Jordan’s franchise for making the right decision. Oh, and the Horace Grant pick was the selection before REGGIE MILLER was selected, so the Bulls haven’t had ALL the luck go their way.

“Seven Years into LeBron’s career in Cleveland, the best player he had was Zydrunas Ilgauskas.”

A two-time all-star that’s 7’3” with an unguardable mid-range shot? You can have a lot worse. LeBron also had Antawn Jamison – a previous all-star averaging 22 and 9 before LeBron got to Cleveland, Shaquille O’Neal, who was coming off a season in which he was an all-star and the league leader in field goal percentage, and who EVEN COWHERD HIMSELF USED TO ARGUE THE SUPERIORITY OF THE TALENT KOBE BRYANT INHERITED, Mo Williams – an all-star with Cleveland and averaged 17 points before getting to Cleveland, and a plethora of elite role players.

“LeBron was dragging Boobie Gibson to the Finals.”

Gibson played under 1000 minutes for Cleveland the year they made it to the Finals pre-decision. Did Michael Jordan “drag” Cliff Levingston, Stacey King, and Will Perdue to the finals? Because they all played the same amount of minutes and Levingston and King played more the year Jordan WON his first ring. Oh, and in an era that didn’t allow for players to show up on the box score as “DNP – Rest.”

“And another thing that’s never discussed that LeBron’s teams were so good so fast not because of anything other than LeBron’s talent – that he never got another great draft pick.”

Michael Jordan literally missed all but 18 games his 2nd seasons due to injury his first seven seasons, and he still managed to finish with 9.4 more win shares than LeBron in 39 less games. Saying LeBron won too much to develop a good team is idiotic because Jordan contributed more wins to his team and still won championships with the team he built instead of one he had to leave.

“By year 2, 3, 4, 5 they were picking in the 20s.”

They picked in the lottery year 1. They traded their draft picks year two. They got two great, first round level players year three with Daniel Gibson  and Shannon Brown. They traded the first round pick year four. Year Five they actually picked in the teens and chose J.J. Hickson rover Ryan Anderson, Courtney Lee, Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum, George Hill, Nikola Pekovic, Mario Chalmers, DeAndre Jordan, Luc Mbah a Moute, Goran Dragic, and Timofey Mozgov. In LeBron’s laat draft during which he was a part of the Cavs they got Danny Green in the 2nd round. Draft picks have nothing to do with LeBrons success, or better put, lack there of, during stint one in Cleveland.

“As good as Andrew Wiggins is, and he’s really special, Minnesota can get Karl-Anthony Towns with the number one pick”

AGAIN WITH THE DISTRACTIONS! Andrew Wiggins is nowhere near as good as Michael Jordan or LeBron and should never even be brought up in this conversation.

LeBron James went to Cleveland. Never got a perennial all-star. Forget a hall-of-famer”

Shaquille O’Neal was an all-star 15 of the last 17 years and 9 of the last 10 years before getting to Cleveland and he won three finals MVPs and a regular season MVP in that span. What’s a perennial all-star if that isn’t it? Shaq isn’t a hall of famer? Some how we went from Dr. J got a guy who went 28 years without getting inducted into the hall of fame for ABA accomplishments to now Shaq, a first ballot HOF, is not a hall of famer.

“Because LeBron was so dominating, he never got another draft pick”

Got a lottery pick the Cavs blew. They traded their draft picks and missed selections when they didn’t (see: JJ Hickson.) Dominating? Got swept in the Finals, couldn’t beat a team who’s three leading scorers were above 32 years old in the playoffs with home court advantage. Couldn’t beat a team who’s center was Kendrick Perkins. Lost to Dwight Howard in 2009. Missed playoffs in 2004 and 2005. Didn’t make it past 2nd round in 2006 or 2008. No MVPs until fifth year in league. What dominating did he do that Jordan didn’t?

“What if he inherited Kareem? Stockton? George McGinnis? McHale and Parish? LeBron would not be working on his 2nd finals. He’d be working on his 13th, and he’d already have 6 or 7 rings.”

He did inherit two perennial all-stars by making the decision. He created that team with one of the best minds in Basketball: Pat Riley. They went 2-2. Now he inherited two more, and built that team exactly as he wanted. They’re 1-1, and it would be 0-2 if not for a questionable Draymond Green ejection by the NBA.

It is okay to think that LeBron James is a better basketball player than Michael Jordan- many great basketball minds do.  To go about it as Colin Cowherd has, however, and to do so by making excuses for James is unacceptable.

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