Growing up in the city environment, there has never been another player more recognized on the blacktop than Michael Jordan.
During melancholy days in gray colored neighborhoods, basketball was the only thing that turned enemies into friends. Kids would shoot fade-away jump shots, attempt rim rattling slams and stick their tongues out of their mouths in similar fashion to one of the greatest all time.
There was nothing that could compare to "His Airness." Jordan was the name teenagers shouted during late night practices, the number they would wear to try and bring some of his on-court talent to their own game, all in emulation of number 23.
Jordan to a young male in the '90s was the greatest thing to ever grace a television screen. Flying through the air at heights unknown, scoring incredible amounts at any given time, and winning championship after championship was something that every aspiring player hoped would be a part of their career.
It has become the trend with most superstars who enter the National Basketball Association following the nineties, they sometimes begin to draw comparisons to Michael Jordan. This same case over the last decade has become the issue with LeBron James.
James is arguably the best player in the NBA today, but as the media suggests and even as history may suggest, he has a far way to go before being considered the greatest of all time. James has done everything in his nine-year career to elude the comparisons with Jordan, but as his career takes off, the comparisons get harder.
James, frustrated with the comparisons, took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to voice his opinion on the situation revolving around Michael Jordan and him. The comments followed James' historic six-game run where he became the first player in NBA history to score 30 points while shooting 60 percent from the field. Also on the week that the media celebrates Jordan's 50th birthday.
I'm not MJ, I'm LJ
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 13, 2013
"I think everyone has always been trying to find who is the next MJ," James said recently to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "That's just how it's been since MJ stopped playing. Since his really, really dominant years, everyone is trying to find who was the next MJ. The comparison is great. I love it. But I'm who I am. Hopefully, the comparison will start, 'Who is the next LJ?' And not MJ."
Even though James is fresh off of his third MVP performance, first NBA Finals victory, and Olympic medal, he is still far from Jordan's six titles. There is also a major difference between Michael Jordan and LeBron James, the fact that they are two completely different players.
It's easier to compare Kobe Bryant to Jordan seeing as though they are both selfish players, or as they'd like to say "scorers." Jordan and Bryant find new inventive ways every night to fully abuse their opposition, while James is more of a facilitator than the other two.
It even shows in their career stats, Jordan finished his 15-year stint in the NBA with 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.3 steals.
LeBron plays a little differently whereas he affects the entire box score, averaging 27.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.7 steals in his nine-and-a-half seasons in the NBA.
While these two affect the NBA in different ways, they play different positions, carry themselves differently, and have affected media and the professional market in completely different fashions. At this point in time, James doesn't have a sneaker line that transcends all different ages over the span of twenty years and counting. Also, James isn't in the conversation for greatest all-time, and lastly he hasn't earned more than one championship under his belt.
"I don't compare to MJ," James told the Sentinel. "I don't compare to Oscar Robertson, just like those guys don't compare to nobody else. But you guys (media) need to compare me to someone so I'll let y'all figure it out."
LeBron is more comparable to the likes of Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson or even a hybrid copy of Steve Nash and Shaquille O'Neal. But at the end of the day LeBron will never be Jordan, especially not to any fan of the game who's had the privilege to watch MJ play.
James still has plenty of time before his career is over. Even though he's been in the league for nearly a decade, he's only 28 years old. LeBron has the life left to really solidify his career and grow into a player that is continuously thrown into the argument as the greatest of all-time. But that moment has yet to come.
As long as James continues on his career there will always be the notion that he's attempting to dethrone Jordan from his seat as the greatest of all time, but until there is a consensus among the media, the fans, and the players, James is just one of the best to play in this decade.
While Michael's banners hang from the arena in downtown Chicago, as long as kids grow up still wanting "to be like Mike," and as long as retro Jordan based sneakers appear on the market every season of the calendar year, there will be no figure more important to the basketball genre than Michael Jordan.
When was the last time LeBron got asked to be in a movie like Space Jam?