Liberal Arts Blog — Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James — the Greatest of All Time?
Liberal Arts Blog — Saturday is the Joy of Sports, Dance, Fitness, and All Things Physical Day
Today’s Topic — Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James — the greatest of all time?
A big fan of Wilt Chamberlain in the 1960s, I lost touch with basketball when I moved from DC to Harvard in 1971. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James were just names to me. But I knew they were a big deal to many. When Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January, I vowed at some point to do a little research to find out a little more about each. It felt un-American to be so ignorant. So here goes. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
KOBE BRYANT (1978–2020), 6 feet 6 inches, shooting guard, Lakers, career (1996–2016)
1. Career average of 25 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.4 steals per game. First NBA player to reach 30,000 points and 6000 assists (at age 34).
2. 5X NBA champion, 18X NBA All-star (1996,2000–2016). In doing so, he missed more field goal attempts than any other player in NBA history.
3. Famous for the “fall away jump shot” and the “jab-step-and-pause” (Bryant jabbed his non-pivot foot forward to let the defender relax, but instead of bringing the jab foot back, he pushed off of it and drove around his opponent to get to the basket”
NB: trilingual (Italian, Spanish, English), named after Japanese Kobe beef, picked the nickname “Black Mamba” after the snake for its ability to strike with 99% accuracy at maximum speed, in rapid succession.”
LEBRON JAMES (1984 — ) 6 foot 9 inches, Cavaliers (2003–10,14–18) Miami Heat ((2010–14). Lakers (2018- )
1. Career Average per game: 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists. 1.6 assists. Has “mainly played at the small forward position but has also started as point guard, shooting guard, and power forward”)
2. 3X NBA champ, 4 X NBA MVP, 16X NBA All-Star
3. By the “box plus/minus” (BPM) metric, which measures a player’s contribution to his team when he is on court relative to the average team player), LeBron is the top of the heap — a 9.1 which puts him a full point ahead of Michael Jordan at 8.1.
NB: “Since 2011, he has been ranked as the best player in the NBA by ESPN and Sports Illustrated.” In polls, younger fans rate him above Jordan as the best of all time. Older fans give the edge to the other guy.
MICHAEL JORDAN (1963 — ) 6 foot 6 inches, Chicago Bulls (1984–1993), Washington Wizards (2001–2003)
1. Career Average per game: 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.3 steals. A shooting guard who could also play point guard (Washington Wizards) and point guard.
2. 6X NBA champ, 6X NBA Finals MVP, 5X NBA MVP; highest NBA playoff scoring average: 33.45 points. Rated greatest athlete of the 20th century by ESPN. Rated second after Babe Ruth by AP.
3. Nicknames “Air Jordan” and “Air Man” came from the ability to do slam dunks from the free-throw line.
NB: “In 2014 Jordan became the first billionaire in NBA history. With a net worth of $2.1 billion, he is the fourth richest African American, behind Robert F. Smith (CEO of a private equity firm), David Steward (CEO of technology firm), and Oprah Winfrey.”
Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to sports, dance, fitness. Or the coolest thing you learned about Sports, Dance, of Fitness in your life — whether on the field, on the dance floor or in the gym, whether from a coach, a parent, a friend, or just your own experimentation.
This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or even change their life. It’s perhaps a chance to put into words something you have never articulated before. And to cement in your own memory something cool you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.