Blog Entry

Pippen: LeBron will have better stats than Jordan

Posted on: October 5, 2011 7:20 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 7:47 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver


On the court, Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen was relentless, a menace in the open court and as effective an on-ball defender as you'll ever see. In retirement, there's still no quit in Pippen.

More than six months after Pippen put his foot in his mouth by saying that Miami Heat forward LeBron James "may be the greatest player to ever play the game" and roughly four months after he backtracked, saying that his Bulls teammate, Michael Jordan, was actually the greatest, Pippen continues to waffle in his comparison. reports that Pippen is now parsing the comparison in a new manner, arguing that Jordan is the greatest of all time but that James will wind up with better numbers when it's all said and done. 
“My position is still the same,” Pippen stated. “You’re talking about a very young kid who came to the game at a very young age. Statistically, he will probably be the best player at the end of the day…based on the number of years he can get in, [he’s a] super athlete, very versatile in a lot of ways.”

Pippen added, “My comment was not meant to belittle the greatest player in the game—he has truly made his mark with his style, with his charisma, with his brand—but from a statistical standpoint, I think [LeBron] has great [potential] to be recognized as the best.”
First off, is there any way we can lock out Scottie Pippen's mouth indefinitely? 

Second: After a massive initial blunder, Pippen is finally, mercifully, correct in his assessment, at least the part about James finishing with better career numbers than Jordan. Jordan is, without question, the greatest basketball player of all time and so significantly better than James that the two don't belong in the same sentence at this stage of James' career. The only current player close to matching Jordan is Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and, even then, Jordan wins out with ease.

But James has the opportunity -- and has shown the capability -- to smash Jordan's statistical marks. Here's a side-by-side comparison to help tell the story. James already has 17,362 career points, 3,000+ more than Jordan had at the same age. He has 1,700+ more rebounds and 1,700+ assists too. Keep in mind that Jordan was 26, James' current age, before he took off the better part of two seasons in the prime of his career to play professional baseball. In other words, James has roughly a two-season head start on Jordan thanks to the fact that he entered the NBA straight out of high school (James entered at age 19, Jordan at age 21), he gained an extra year thanks to an early career foot injury that sidelined Jordan for almost all of the 1985-1986 season, and he will gain even more extra ground by the time he turns 32, when, barring injury, he will have had the opportunity to play in another 130 or so games more than Jordan did by the same age because of the baseball foray. Those 130 extra games go on top of the 200 extra games that James has already accumulated. That's at least an extra four seasons of production; that's a huge chunk considering that Jordan's career spanned just 13 full seasons plus portions of two others.

The only thing stopping James from passing Jordan is how long he can remain productive and, even then, it would take a catastrophe for that to get in the way. Jordan had big statistical output through the age of 34, and then emerged from retirement to play two additional seasons with the Washington Wizards that really amounted to 1.25 seasons or so of peak production combined. In other words, James needs only to last through the age of 36 -- 10 more seasons -- to ensure that he effectively lasts as long as Jordan did.

Because of his head start, James really only needs to last another six or seven seasons to pass Jordan in all of the major statistical categories. Indeed, he's already 54 percent of the way to catching Jordan in points, 67 percent of the way to catching Jordan in rebounds and 77 percent of the way to catching Jordan in assists.

Of course, in the most critical number of all -- the number of championship rings -- James is zero percent of the way to matching Jordan. And all of us, even Pippen, should realize that fact will always separate Jordan and James in the "greatest of all time" debate. Unless James can win seven titles, of course.

Since: Oct 8, 2011
Posted on: October 8, 2011 3:17 pm

Pippen: LeBron will have better stats than Jordan

Pippen played with Michael Jordan, right? starting to doubt that...
I started watching the NBA in Portugal because of Michael Jordan in the 80's, before Pippen was a bull. I saw him try to carry the team by is own. Lebron tried to do the same in Cleveland, but he couldn't or didn't try. Doesn't really matter…

Lebron might put better overall numbers from the statistical standpoint by the end of is career but in the two finals he was he failed miserably. Jordan even with the flu was “the guy ho solves the game”. When Lebron was “the man” in Cleveland he failed miserably. In Miami he is not the man but he failed too.

Doesn’t matter how many titles he will win in Miami. Michael wined six titles in six finals and to get to the first final he had to pass the Piston’s bad boys (probably the best defensive team in the NBA). Imagine Rodman defending Lebron in a Payoff game with Laimbeer and Sallley helping him…

If Lebron stays in Miami he will try to help Wade wining some titles. That puts him in the same level of Scottie Pippen… not Michael Jordan. He might have a chance there but he is still six titles away.

Since: Apr 19, 2010
Posted on: October 7, 2011 2:22 am

Magics had good help defence and had great

Magics had good help defence and had great rebounding at the PG position and rebounding counts as defence so I would have to argue the statement that ROMO says magic had poor defence. Granted he was 6'9 and playing Pg didn't have the footspeed to keep up with smaller PGs but he knew how to drive them into there shotblockers. So 1 on 1 defence was average but he made up for it in steals, help defence and mostly in rebounds. The Laker's were a very hard team to outrebound with Magic at PG and rebounding = defence as well.

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: October 6, 2011 11:15 pm

Pippen: LeBron will have better stats than Jordan

Durant is a pretty weak defender. He gets outmuscled by the big foreards and gets beat by the smaller players. Lebron is twice the defender Durant is. Durant is a better pure scorer... can't deny that, he's been the best pure scorer for a few seasons now, but to say he's multi faceted is false. If Lebron has such a horrible shot then why was he better from beyond the arc than Kobe was last season? And Kobe is deemed by many Laker fans as one of the best shooters in the game. LeBron shot a better % and shot more #pters as well, before you say that its just because Kobe shoots more. I can't deny that Lebron faded bigtime in the Finals, it was obvious... As for the reason? I'm not too sure. But he still contributed quite a bit on the defensive end and moved the ball well IMO. Which reminds me, Durant isn't half the passer Lebron is. So I still dont know how you can even compare Durant and LeBron when it comes to all-around. LeBron underachieved in the Finals, but he was a huge reason why they were there in the first place. I'd love to see Durant practically shut down Rose like LBJ did. 

Since: Jan 13, 2011
Posted on: October 6, 2011 3:38 pm

Pippen: LeBron will have better stats than Jordan

All the other comments had worthwhile points, but I'll add two as to why LeBron won't be the best ever.

#1- Michael so often just found a way to win. When the game was on the line, he was the guy to have the ball- even when it meant making the right pass. His will to win was immense and greater than LeBron's will ever be.

#2- MIchael always added something new to his game each year. He adjusted. That LeBron still has no post game at this point in his career says everything. And if this season ever does start, I'll be willing to bet he still won't have a post game- even though he was exposed in the championship series because of it.

As for all the other players such as Magic, Wilt, and Russell being considered the greatest to play the game, I'd say that MJ had no holes in his game, and each of the others did. Wilt was a selfish player and couldn't shoot free throws, Russell was limited offensively, and Magic wasn't good defensively.

Also, comparing different generations doesn't work because the game has changed throughout the history of the NBA. It would be like asking who is the greater player between a baseball player and a football player. They're different games. 

Since: Apr 19, 2010
Posted on: October 6, 2011 3:00 pm

Pippen: LeBron will have better stats than Jordan

I agree with the previous post untill we have a player that is 7'4  athletic and skilled that can put up close to wilt type numbers in all catagories and go on to win 10-12 rings then will all will be in a stunned with nothing to say untill some genius tells us things are easier today then before and the old guys are still much better.

Since: Jan 4, 2009
Posted on: October 6, 2011 2:54 pm

I don't know when the majority of the fans

I don't know when the majority of the fans are going to realize that the best stats doesn't mean the best player. It is a huge marker for sure but far from being the whole truth. It's hard to say who's the greatest ever for me someday depending on how he finishes his career Kobe may be that man but for now I have to give it to Jordan and Magic. It's hard for me to say who is best or who made there team better or who I would start my new team with today if I was able to take a young Magic or a young MJ. MJ was tough. a great defender and unstoppable on offence. Magic was just that "magic" and could play any position and do about anything at anytime. Playing center as a rookie during a critical game and scoring 40 points was just unthinkable but so was his career. He wasn't about stats he was about making his team better and showmanship for us fans and that shows us that being the greatest isn't about stats always. Bill Russell vs Wilt who was the best? Well that's been a debate forever of who's best the guy with all the rings who was a great team player or the guy who put up all the stats that Kobe,MJ and LBJ could never hope to come close too. So is Wilt the greatest player of all time because he has the best stats of all time? Maybe it's MJ who had lower stats but more rings? Wait then it must Russell who had more rings then MJ. Hmm hard to say they all are in the converstion. Today most fans who are writing and or blogging will say MJ because he is there hero of there day. My dad would tell me I'm crazy for saying MJ because he told me no one including MJ was as good as Russell or Wilt and he had seem them all play live. My kids who are in there teen and early 20's will tell you Kobe is the greatest ever and someday LBJ may be the goto hero of a era. What I know is that it gives all of us something to talk about and endless fun debating about who's the greatest of all time.

Since: Jun 12, 2009
Posted on: October 6, 2011 12:15 am

Pippen: LeBron will have better stats than Jordan

One more thing...don't use the ton of minutes as an excuse....the guy is what..26 years old...MJ, Kobe and the rest of the great champions all played tons of minutes but did not wane come playoff time.  At least in their prime they didn't.

Since: Jun 12, 2009
Posted on: October 6, 2011 12:13 am

Pippen: LeBron will have better stats than Jordan

I beg to differ....Durant has a much better game...LBJ has one facet to his game...take it strong to the basket and use muscle to get foul calls and rack up points on the line....he can not play with his back to the basket and has no mid-range jumper.  That is why in the championship series Dallas just backed off of him and made him shoot or pass the ball..He could not post up to save his life.  He looked lost during that entire series.  Durant is multi-faceted and much more talented than LBJ.  You put Durant on the Heat and they would have won the title.  LBJ will always be a great regular season player.  You can't teach heart.  Unlike MJ, Kobe, Magic, Bird, Dirk, etc...there hearts and spirit to win will never be matched by LBJ. 

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: October 5, 2011 11:30 pm

Pippen: LeBron will have better stats than Jordan

 I must admit, LBJ needs to step it up and win a title this season or all the stats in the world won't matter. He's on a good team now, and they've had a chance to gel. As far as the best player in the game goes, you'd have a hard time naming a better all around player in the game. He is number one in that dept. by a very wide margin. It looked like he tired out in the play-offs last season and I think he'll be handled differently this time around. He played a ton of minutes and he tailed off as the play-offs wore on. He'll have his shot at multiple titles though, so this discussion is far from over.

Since: Jun 12, 2009
Posted on: October 5, 2011 11:13 pm

Pippen: LeBron will have better stats than Jordan

I was able to view the Final game in last season's championshp series...and I can honestly say that LeBrown is the best player to ever watch a title game.

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