There is no end in sight for arguably the greatest debate in basketball of all time: Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James: who’s the real GOAT?
Fans and experts alike at both sides have long lists of solid arguments to support their contrasting claims. Unless someone greater than the two emerges and becomes a clear-cut choice, the debate will drag on.
For a change, let us go down the memory lane and look back at the best and the worst playoff games of two of the greatest ever to play the game.
Despite that rare off-night, Jordan had still managed to average 35.7 points per game in the series. Chicago would win three of the last four games against the Knicks to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1975.
However, Michael Jordan’s playoffs run was put to a screeching halt by the Bad Boys of the Detroit Pistons. Eventually, the Pistons would bag the crown by sweeping the heavily favored Los Angeles Lakers in the finals.
As expected, Miami had won the first two games of the finals on their home floor. When the series shifted to Dallas, however, the Heat started their downfall. LeBron startied to be passive and did not look like the “King”.
In one of his worst games in his career, LeBron played poorly in Game 4. He scored only eight points while shooting 3-of-11 from the field. Dallas would eventually win their first NBA title in Game 6, bringing down the heavily favored Miami Heat. James’ numbers in the championship series were dismal. He just averaged 17.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.8 assists.
But the “King” would reign in two of the next three seasons, giving the Miami Heat a couple of Larry O’Brien trophies.
However, it was this playoff game against the Boston Celtics in 1986 that stood as his greatest. Playing only 18 games in his sophomore year because of a foot injury, Michael Jordan was able to lead Chicago to the playoffs.
In Game 2 of Chicago’s first-round series against the powerhouse Boston Celtics, Michael Jordan put on a great display of his unmatched offensive arsenal. His “Airness” had scored 62 points on 22-for-41 shooting from the field and 19-for-21 from the free-throw line.
The Celtics had prevailed in double overtime, however, and would sweep Chicago eventually. But that particular game was immortalized by no less than Larry Bird himself who described Jordan as “God disguised as Michael Jordan.”
It was 11 years earlier when LeBron had played the best playoff game of his career. In the Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals against Detroit Pistons, James had a monster 48 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. The “King” led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 109-107 victory.
Making 18 of his 33 shots in the game, the “King” had scored 29 of Cleveland’s last 30 points in the fourth quarter, including 25 straight. The win moved the Cavaliers one win away from a trip to the NBA Finals.
LeBron James and his Cavaliers successfully dismantled the Pistons in Game 6 and eventually faced the San Antonio Spurs in the 2002 NBA Finals. However, the Tim Duncan-led Spurs gave James a rude welcome in his first NBA championship series via a sweep.