Two legends of their times, the eternal struggle between fans and players, critics and pros alike, if Michael Jordan and Lebron James switched places would they hold the same domination over basketball as their respective eras? Can different eras even be compared?
Michael Jordan, less streetball and more strict to practice perfection, while Lebron James had a looser style with less emphasis on that perfection that accelerated Jordan to the top. Can different eras of the NBA truly be any different in context, style, and feeling? Historians harp on about the futility of asking what if in history, nearly impossible, the thread of time bends and twists greater than any Chicago Bulls game of legend’s past.
Jordan had his run four years after Reagan’s attempted assassination and up until four years before the financial crisis, to give someone perspective on how long he went at it for. For Lebron, after a promising young man even for his age, started three years after 9/11 and is still playing to this day, so to compare the two players we have Lebron still over five years behind Jordan’s career. Their style, visceral, in the 90’s. Rough, physical, punchy (not literally). Today’s basketball style is more like an advanced hypothetical on chaos theory, a bit wild and accelerated. In the context of the players it becomes very difficult to cut and paste Lebron and Jordan into their opposite eras.
But when looking at the eras themselves you start to see how complicated and nuanced they were, how out of place each player would become. They fit just into what would be the most utility they would be able to achieve for their teams. This utility combined with their eras styles really bring the complication to the forefront even more. Anyone can make the argument any way they wish. Neither player would be suitable for each other’s era, or perhaps both players would learn to adapt to the style of the other’s era. But how can we know the answer?
The best way to answer this question, is perhaps through a detailed statistical analysis of Lebron’s and Jordan’s games, along with their teammate’s games. Then seeing how their throwing styles, passing percentage rates, running speeds, dribble amount, time spent waiting for a shot based on teammate’s positions. While both players were at the top of their respective eras, Lebron is still playing, and so these kinds of analyses are just speculation until the full story is unveiled. Lebron did just take a few losses against the Golden State Warriors, and people argue that Jordan wouldn't have allowed his team to fail!