LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan (2024)

A LeBron vs James T-shirt

Early Life

Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1963. He started his basketball career in high school playing for Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. He played baseball and football in addition to basketball, and though it was deemed too short to play basketball at the varsity level in high school, he showed that he did have the stuff that it took by dominating the junior varsity team instead.

LeBron James was born in Akron Ohio in 1984; on January 16, 2013 he became the youngest player in the NBA to reach 20,000 career points, at 28 years old. He played high school basketball at St. Vincent – St. Mary High school in Akron, and was highly promoted by the national media as a future NBA superstar due to the talent he showed during his high school games. He played Amateur Athletic Union basketball for the Northeast Ohio Shooting Stars.


Michael Jordan played with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for three years; the team won the Tar Heels' national championship team in 1982. Jordan's NBA career started in 1984 when he joined the Chicago Bulls. He averaged 28.2 points per game on 51.5% shooting during his first season in the NBA. He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated only a month after his professional career started, and experienced some issues with his teammates due to the amount of attention he received. His second season was cut short by a broken foot, causing him to miss 64 games in the season. In his third season, Michael Jordan came back with one of the most prolific scoring seasons in NBA history, becoming one of only two people to score 3,000 points in a season. He played for both the Chicago Bulls from 1984 to 1993 and again from 1995 to 1999. During this time, the Chicago Bulls won the NBA championships six times" 1991-93 and 1996-98. After he retired in 1999, Jordan returned for another stint, this time with the Washington Wizards, and played from 2001-03. He is now majority owner and head of basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats.

United States' LeBron James (6) dunks against Spain during the men's gold medal basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London

LeBron James played high school basketball at St. Vincent – St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio but did not play college basketball. After graduating, he was selected in the 2003 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and stayed with them until the 2010-11 season. James led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007 but they lost to the San Antonio Spurs. In a much publicized move in 2010, James joined the Miami Heat, disappointing his fan base in Cleveland. He cited winnability as one of the major reasons for the switch. The team did reach the NBA Finals that year but were defeated by the Dallas Mavericks. In 2012, the Miami Heat did win the NBA championship and LeBron James was MVP in the finals that year.

Playing Style

Michael Jordan’s playing style was one of total body awareness, using all of his muscles to the best of their ability in order to part through the court like a fish in water, going up for the layups leading to the slam dunks that he was so famous for. His leaping ability earned him the nicknames "Air Jordan" and "His Airness". He also gained a reputation for being one of the best defensive players in basketball.

James’ playing style is much more aggressive, opting to mow down those who get in his way as opposed to fluidly working through the court itself.


Michael Jordan was 6× NBA champion (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998); 6× NBA Finals MVP (1991–1993, 1996–1998); 5× NBA Most Valuable Player (1988, 1991–1992, 1996, 1998); 14× NBA All-Star; 3× NBA All-Star Game MVP; 10× NBA scoring champion; his accomplishments include five MVP awards, ten All-NBA first team designations, fourteen All-Star game appearances, and the records for highest career regular season scoring average and highest career playoff scoring average. He was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, second only to Babe Ruth on the Associate Press’s list of athletes of the century.

LeBron James was an NBA champion (2012), NBA Finals MVP (2012), 3xNBA MVP (2009-2010, 2012), 9x NBA All-Star (2005-2013), 2x NBA All Star Game MVP (2006, 2008), NBA Rookie of the Year (2004), NBA scoring champion (2008), 6× All-NBA First Team (2006, 2008–2012), 2× All-NBA Second Team (2005, 2007), 4× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2009–2012), NBA All-Rookie First Team (2004), USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (2012), Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (2012), Cleveland Cavaliers all-time leading scorer, Naismith Prep Player of the Year (2003), 2× USA Mr. Basketball (2002–2003), 3× Ohio Mr. Basketball (2001–2003), and 2× Consensus National H.S. Player of the Year (2002–2003).

Head to Head

While it is true that stats-wise, LeBron James is catching up to Michael Jordan, most experts and commentators consider MJ to be a better player in terms of style, sportsmanship, actual game play and recognition for that game play. Here's an ESPN video where Steve Kerr says that in a hypothetical one-on-one matchup between LeBron James in his prime and MJ in his prime, LeBron would win 3 out of 10 games.

Who Would Win Today?

Survey results published by Public Policy Polling in May 2015 show not only that most people consider Michael Jordan to be a better player (which isn't surprising), but also that about a third of the people believe Jordan could beat LeBron James even today when Jordan is 52 and James is only 30.

...when it comes to who NBA fans think is the best player of all time. 77% pick Michael Jordan on that question to only 14% who think it's LeBron James. In fact despite his being 52 years old, 34% of NBA fans think Jordan could beat James one on one now- as in the year 2015- to just 54% who think James would win despite being in the prime of his career.


Michael Jordan was involved in a controversy only once, in 1993 when he was seen gambling in Atlantic City the night before a game. He admitted to $57,000 in gambling losses. Off the court, LeBron James has had a public life full of intense scrutiny, and he has been ranked as one of America’s most disliked and most influential athletes. He is constantly in the news.[1]


As a seasoned basketball enthusiast with a deep understanding of the sport's history and its iconic players, it's evident that the dynamic between Michael Jordan and LeBron James is a perennial topic of discussion among fans and analysts alike. Drawing on my extensive knowledge of the game, let's delve into the concepts and details presented in the article.

Early Life:

  • Michael Jordan: Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1963, Jordan began his basketball journey at Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. He showcased exceptional skills despite initial setbacks and eventually earned national recognition.

  • LeBron James: Born in Akron, Ohio, in 1984, James made headlines by becoming the youngest player to reach 20,000 career points in the NBA at just 28 years old. His high school career at St. Vincent – St. Mary High School in Akron drew widespread attention, setting the stage for his future NBA stardom.


  • Michael Jordan: Jordan played three years with the University of North Carolina before joining the NBA in 1984 with the Chicago Bulls. He led the Bulls to six NBA championships and established himself as one of the greatest players in the league. His brief stint with the Washington Wizards followed his initial retirement.

  • LeBron James: Drafted in 2003 by the Cleveland Cavaliers, James led the team to the NBA Finals in 2007. In 2010, he made a high-profile move to the Miami Heat, securing an NBA championship in 2012. Subsequently, he returned to the Cavaliers and later joined the Los Angeles Lakers.

Playing Style:

  • Michael Jordan: Known for his total body awareness and exceptional leaping ability, Jordan earned nicknames like "Air Jordan" and "His Airness." His playing style combined offensive prowess with defensive skills, making him a well-rounded player.

  • LeBron James: James, on the other hand, is recognized for his aggressive playing style, often overpowering opponents with his strength and athleticism. His approach involves physically dominating opponents on the court.


  • Michael Jordan: A six-time NBA champion, Jordan's list of accolades includes NBA Finals MVP, NBA Most Valuable Player, NBA All-Star, and numerous scoring titles. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century.

  • LeBron James: James boasts an impressive array of awards, including NBA championships, NBA Finals MVP, NBA MVP, NBA All-Star selections, and defensive honors. He has left an indelible mark on the modern era of basketball.

Head to Head and Current Perception:

  • Despite statistical comparisons, experts often lean towards Michael Jordan in terms of style, sportsmanship, and overall game recognition.

Who Would Win Today?:

  • A survey indicated that a significant portion of NBA fans believed Michael Jordan could beat LeBron James even in 2015, showcasing enduring admiration for Jordan's legacy.


  • While Michael Jordan faced a singular controversy related to gambling in 1993, LeBron James has navigated a public life filled with intense scrutiny and has been both admired and criticized.

In conclusion, the comparison between Michael Jordan and LeBron James extends beyond statistics, delving into playing styles, career trajectories, and public perceptions. This ongoing debate fuels the passion of basketball enthusiasts worldwide, emphasizing the impact these two legendary players have had on the sport.

LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan (2024)


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