SportsNation Blog Archives Cleveland Cavaliers
The careers of Michael Jordan and LeBron James never overlapped. Jordan retired for the third and final time two months before James was drafted in 2003. That separation hasn't stopped NBA fans from constantly speculating what would happen if the two took the court to face off.
Last week Jordan said he'd beat James in a 1-on-1 game with the two players in their primes, sparking the latest debate to fill the dog days of summer without NBA action.
Friday on NBC's "Today" show, James was asked the same question and responded.
"Oh, I take myself. For sure. I mean, I'm gonna take myself versus anybody."
That's not surprising coming from the player who called himself "the best player in the world" during the NBA Finals, despite his team trailing 3-2 at the time to the reigning MVP (who, you might remember, went on to win that series and hand James his fourth NBA Finals loss).
James, though, did at least acknowledge that beating Jordan wouldn't be easy, telling Today: "I'll tell you one thing -- they're gonna have to have a few wheelchairs and a couple ambulances there to get us off the floor."
For those who care to try and solve this unsolvable dilemma themselves, here are the key numbers to know: James has the height and weight advantages (6-8 to 6-6 and 250 to 216). Jordan has higher career averages in points (30.2 to 27.3) while James has the edge in assists (7.1 to 5.3). Jordan also bests James in All-Star selections (14 to 11), MVPs (5 to 4) and, of course, rings (6 to 2).
Even the very best get confused.
Case in point: Here is Russell Westbrook, absolutely one of the NBA's top players, completely botching a drill (according to the tweeter, "two dribbles to score" -- as in, he's supposed to score here in two dribbles or less).
LeBron and Melo lose it when Russell Westbrook defeats the whole purpose of the drill (2 dribbles to score) pic.twitter.com/7tnWaHwaa0— Hoopmixtape.com (@Hoopmixtape) August 13, 2015
LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony's reactions were wonderful. But let's not ignore Westbrook, who often comes off as impossibly serious, being able to laugh at himself. And it's not the first such instance this summer.
H/T Bleacher Report
Brandon Armstrong isn't the only basketball player with impressive impression skills.
OK, so these NBA rookies might not impersonate quite at a B.A. level. But in this video for SB Nation, the likes of Willie Cauley-Stein, Frank Kaminsky, Jahlil Okafor and more try their hand at mimicking LeBron James, James Harden, Allen Iverson and others ... with Los Angeles Lakers rookie D'Angelo Russell doing a surprisingly honest Kobe Bryant, as well.
Not bad! Although Kobe might take issue with that pivot foot, rook.
Personal other favorites: Kelly Oubre's swag-filled Nick Young, R.J. Hunter crawling across the floor as Matthew Dellavedova, Russell's herky-jerky Harden and Trey Lyles asking former Kentucky teammate Cauley-Stein, "Do you watch basketball?"
Q&A: Michael Jordan says he'd beat LeBron in 1-on-1 in his prime, and that all-time Bulls team would 'kill' all-time Lakers team
On Saturday at his Michael Jordan Flight School camp in Santa Barbara, California, the eponymous NBA legend took a number of questions -- and some of them were tough, ranging from Phil Jackson or Dean Smith, all-time Chicago Bulls vs. all-time Los Angeles Lakers, one-on-one with LeBron James and much more.
As he tends to do with basketball-related queries, MJ answered them with candor. Here's a selection of the questions and answers, as seen in the video above from Bay Area HQ:
(Questions as said by Jordan himself.)
If I had to play one game, who would I want to coach: Phil Jackson or Dean Smith?
"Dean Smith. [Some audible gasps/murmurs.] Fortunately Dean Smith helped me become the basketball player I am today. Phil was lucky because I was taught the game by Dean Smith."
How did I feel when the Detroit Pistons walked off after we beat them in 1991 [in a 4-0 sweep in the Eastern Conference finals]?
"I felt fine. I felt accomplished. We beat them and they felt ashamed about us beating them. I felt like it was bad sportsmanship. I would not advise you guys to do that. You've got to be able to lose in grace and win in grace -- so don't walk off the court. Even though you hate losing, that's just bad sportsmanship if you do that."
Biggest trash-talker I ever played against?
"Probably Larry Bird. He talks a lot of trash. Good trash, though, not dirty trash. Good trash."
What did I think about when Shaq said that the all-time five of the greatest Lakers could beat the Bulls' five greatest players?
"I just felt like he was just talking. It's a debate. The thing is that we would never know. I think we would have killed them. He thinks they would have killed us. You guys decide. It's just a debate."
"Favorite player to play pick-up games with?"
"My best pick-up game I've ever played was the games and the practices with the  Dream Team. ... My team was myself, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, Larry Bird and Chris Mullin. We played against Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, David Robinson -- that's five, right? -- and we killed 'em.
Note: That's not five; the other player team's fifth had to be either Karl Malone, John Stockton or Christian Laettner. There's also a chance Jordan is misremembering a bit, and he's talking about this scrimmage covered in-depth by Sports Illustrated, which featured a Jordan-Malone-Ewing-Pippen-Bird five against Magic, Barkley, Robinson, Mullin and Laettner (although a 40-36 final score in favor of Jordan's team hardly constitutes a "killing.")
If I had the chance to go one-on-one with Steph Curry or LeBron, which one would I choose to go one-on-one with?
"Right now, or when I was in my prime? Right now? Buddy, I couldn't beat -- well, I'd go against [Stephen] Curry because I'm a little bit bigger than him. So I could kind of back him in. But LeBron is a little bit too big."
[Note: Take that, 34 percent of America.]
If I had a chance to add another member to team Jordan, who would I hire?
"I'm a big fan of [Mike] Trout, the baseball player. I absolutely love him. I wish I could hire him. But he's Nike, so I can't steal Nike's guys."
This is the ESPN question. I know it's going to be all over ESPN. [Note: He was right.] If I was in my prime, could I beat LeBron in a one-on-one game?
[Long pause in which the campers mutter/shout their opinions.]
What did I see in Kwame Brown when I drafted him [No. 1 overall for the Washington Wizards in 2001]?
"I, along with everybody that was in that draft room, wanted Kwame Brown because of his athleticism, his size, his speed. He was still a young talent, 18-year-old, 19-year-old kid."
If you went back and you couldn't play basketball or baseball, what sport would you play?
"Great question. I went to college, I got my degree in cultural geography, and everybody wanted to know what is cultural geography? Well it's an introduction to meteorology. I always wanted to be the weather man. Don't laugh. But that's what I really wanted to do. So if I wasn't playing basketball or baseball, I was going to tell you what the weather was going to be like tomorrow."
[Note: Don't think meteorology is a sport? Tell that to Jim Cantore!]
What kind of advice would I give Kobe Bryant?
[Uncomfortable laughter in the crowd.]
"Actually, Kobe and I are good friends. I like Kobe, we talk a lot, I hope he comes back healthy. I think he's one of the great players of the game, I think he's done a lot for the game, and he has a true love for the game of basketball. I absolutely have high regard for Kobe Bryant."Even though he stole all my moves, but that's OK. I still love him like a brother."
Magic Johnson says LeBron might be having greatest Finals ever, and Curry and Green need to keep quiet
Magic Johnson knows a thing or two about coming up big in the NBA Finals, winning five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and, in 2012, ranking sixth all time on ESPN Insider's list of best Finals performances for his showing in 1987.
Which leads us to this tweet from Wednesday:
If LeBron keeps playing the way he's playing & the Cavs win the title, this will be the single greatest performance we've seen in the Finals— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 10, 2015
This isn't crazy. Through three games, James is averaging 41.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 8.3 assists in 47.3 minutes. He's shooting only 40.2 percent from the field, but with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love out it's hard to fault James for taking a lot of shots even as the Golden State Warriors' defense keys on him (oh, and the Cleveland Cavaliers lead the series 2-1).
Magic didn't let that tweet stand alone; he continued to talk up LeBron, and directly referenced James' field goal attempts (35.7 per game in the series).
After the first 3 games LeBron James should be on everybody's Mt. Rushmore...including mine!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 10, 2015
LeBron, don't listen to anybody, keep shooting as many times as you have to for your team to win!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 10, 2015
Magic also gave a shoutout to the breakout star of the NBA Finals, and to Cleveland's overall team effort ...
In the NBA Finals there's always going to be unsung heroes and Matthew Dellavedova is playing that role for the Cavs.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 10, 2015
The Cavaliers defense has been awesome and they have been physically & mentally tougher than the Warriors.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 10, 2015
... but he was not so kind to the Warriors, particularly NBA MVP Stephen Curry and defensive anchor Draymond Green:
I love Steph Curry & Draymond Green, but they both need to stop complaining to the referees and play basketball.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 10, 2015
One thing that's inarguable, and that no one is complaining about: the level of drama in this series.
H/T Sporting News