Chicago Bulls: JR Smith wrong about LeBron vs. MJ debate

JR Smith, LeBron James (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
JR Smith, LeBron James (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

JR Smith recently gave his thoughts on the comps between Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan and his ex-teammate and Laker LeBron James.

A debate that is raging strong right now details who the greatest NBA player of all-time is. And this debate pretty much always rages on between the Chicago Bulls all-time great shooting guard Michael Jordan and Los Angeles Lakers superstar forward LeBron James. And a former teammate of LeBron’s back in the day with the Cleveland Cavaliers, veteran free agent shooting guard JR Smith, recently gave his take on the comparisons of MJ and James, along with former Lakers great shooting guard and Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant.

On June 2, Smith joined up with the former Indianapolis Colts punter and talk show host Pat McAfee, on the “Pat McAfee Show”, to further the “GOAT debate”.

Here’s some of what Smith had to say on the matter (monologue thanks to Clutchpoints).

"“He holds you accountable. One thing about Bron is he leads by example with his work ethic. His biggest attribute is being able to pull people along with his work ethic,” the 6-foot-6 shooter said.“Obviously, it’s easier for the better players to do it. But for my existence, Jordan didn’t do it. Kobe didn’t do it. A lot of players that had that “killer mentality” aren’t that type of person to do it,” he added."

Smith hits on the point that he feels like Jordan and Kobe are great scorers, but LeBron is a more well-rounded player than the other two. He also makes the point of the accountability factor with LeBron as a teammate.

"“He’s not a scorer. A scorer is a person who has a one-track mind to do an individual thing. Like a sniper,” JR Smith said about LeBron.“Jordan and Kobe, they did play defense but they’re scorers. They put up 50, 60, 70 points a night. When you get somebody so well-rounded, rebounding, scoring, passing, dribbling, a good teammate. It’s a totally different atmosphere. He’s a totally different person than those guys. There’s no comparison. Because you can’t compare a lion and a tiger. They’re both cats but they are not the same.”"

Smith also made an interesting comparison between scorers like Jordan and Kobe and then LeBron. He’s basically saying that you can’t compare apples to oranges.

But there are flaws to that logic, along with saying that what separates LeBron from the likes of Jordan and Kobe is the accountability factor. The problem there is that Jordan was almost best-known for the high standard that he held his teammates to back in the 1990’s with all those great Bulls dynasty teams.

And Jordan was still a very well-rounded player that nabbed three steals titles, nine All-Defensive Team selections, and one Defensive Player of the Year award. He also registered a career defensive box plus/minus rating north of 2.0. LeBron’s career defensive box plus/minus rating sits at 1.8, his career defensive rating is lower than Jordan’s, and he has yet to win a Defensive Player of the Year award.

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Jordan is also a better career scorer than LeBron, and has that well-known better record in the NBA Finals. Both are great players, but JR doesn’t make the strongest case for why LeBron is better than Jordan or even Kobe in this particular argument.