When Michael Jordan finally retired in 2003 as a member of the Washington Wizards, he left a lasting impression that no one touched for years after. Whether it was his scoring, his perimeter defense, or the way he glided through the air, he was always the best at everything he did. He was the benchmark that superstars and NBA hopefuls alike dreamed of being. Every new star is challenged with the same question: “Will you be the next Michael Jordan?” But no one ever came close, until LeBron James came along.

James was hyped up before he even finished high school. He was known nationwide, and Sports Illustrated dubbed him “The Chosen One” when he was put on the cover of one of their magazines. At Saint Vincent Mary’s High School, he absolutely dominated. He threw down highlight reel dunks over defenseless opponents, leading his team to three straight championships.

In 2003, LeBron faced a choice. He could go to college and pick one of the many scholarship offers he had, or he could make the jump straight to the NBA. He chose the NBA, becoming the last player to go directly from high school to the NBA. James was drafted first overall by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.

Fast forward to 2011, where James has jumped ship to the Miami Heat to play alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He had a memorable career up until that point, but had never won a ring, which was the main argument barring him from the greatest of all time list. He had everything else. His scoring was off the charts; his passing was even better than Jordan’s, and his court savvy and leadership were incredible and still growing. The championship argument changed quickly, as he won two championships in the next four years, making the finals all four of those years. He then went back to the Cavs, making the finals the next three years. He was officially one of the highest on everyone’s list of the greatest of all time. He had three rings, had become the all-time playoff scoring leader, won four MVPs, and earned himself 13 All-Star selections.

He was easily one of the best ever, fighting with Jordan for the top of the list.

After Michael Jordan said he ranks Kobe Bryant higher than LeBron in his all time list because “Five rings beats three” former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose stated:

“Yes. But also for fans, for media, and for players, that logic is so tired. And also just look at it this way. Robert Horry, who was never an All-Star, who is not in the Hall of Fame, has more rings than Michael Jordan”

When asked by partner David Jacoby if Jordan was saying these things because LeBron was threatening Jordan’s legacy, Rose responded with:

“Absolutely, but also we have to respect the fact that LeBron James was the best player on every team that he had that won a championship. Probably been the best player on every team he’s ever played on. It’s hard, especially early in his career; can you name two of the starters that went to the Finals when they lost to the Spurs?”

Has LeBron surpassed Jordan? Not yet. But if he continues at the pace he has been on for the past 14 years, he’ll be there someday.

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Love the NBA. Follow me on twitter @tscoerr

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