Michael Jordan Ranked As NBA’s Top Player Of All-Time Over LeBron James

May 13, 2020, 10:17 AM | Updated: 10:43 am
Michael Jordan - LeBron James...
LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat hugs Michael Jordan after defeating the Charlotte Bobcats 109-98 in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Time Warner Cable Arena on April 28, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan was named as the NBA’s No. 1 player of all-time as ESPN ranked the hall of fame guard one spot ahead of current Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James.

In recent days, ESPN revealed portions of its top 74 NBA players of all-time list with the final 10 players being revealed on Wednesday, May 13.

Although James is still playing professional basketball, the debate between who’s the best player of all-time, Jordan or James, has heated up in past seasons.

No. 2 – LeBron James

James entered the NBA directly out of high school in 2003. “King James” was selected Cleveland Cavaliers with the first pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. As a highly-touted prep player, James entered the league with high expectations. Over his career that has spanned 17 seasons, James has lived up to those high expectations.

The forward joined the Miami Heat in 2010 and won two NBA titles during his time in South Beach. He returned to Cleveland in 2014 and lead the Cavs to a championship in 2016 after coming back from a 3-1 series deficit in the NBA Finals.

James appeared in eight straight NBA Finals from 2011-18.

“Standing 6-9 and weighing north of 250 pounds with a 40-inch vertical, James’ game is built on power, but his passing ability might be his strongest skill. The four-time MVP and three-time champion has reinvented how an athlete’s prime should be viewed; he had the Lakers in the thick of a title hunt as a 35-year-old playing in his 17th season,” wrote ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “His chase-down block in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals to help complete a 3-1 comeback against a Warriors team that won 73 games will forever encapsulate his will to win.”

Career Achievements

  • Three-time NBA champion (2012, 2013, 2016)
  • Three-time NBA Finals MVP (2012, 2013, 2016)
  • Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013)
  • 16-time NBA All-Star (2005-20)
  • Three-time NBA All-Star Game MVP (2006, 2008, 2018)
  • 12-time All-NBA First Team (2006, 2008-2018)
  • Two-time All-NBA Second Team (2005, 2007)
  • All-NBA Third Team (2019)
  • Five-time NBA All-Defensive First Team (2009-13)
  • NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2014)
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (2004)
  • NBA All-Rookie First Team (2004)
  • NBA scoring champion (2008)

James has played for the Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers during his NBA career. He was in the middle of his 17th season when the league halted play of the 2019-20 season in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

No. 1 – Michael Jordan

Jordan entered the NBA after playing college basketball for the North Carolina Tar Heels from 1981-84. He was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the third pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. His playing career spanned over three periods that featured two retirements from the game of basketball.

“His Airness” played for the Bulls from 1984-1993 and won three straight NBA titles before retiring for the first time. During his first basketball retirement, Jordan played Minor League Baseball for the Chicago White Sox organization.

“Air Jordan” returned to the Bulls in 1995 and won three consecutive titles before retiring again in 1998.

He returned to the NBA as a member of the Washington Wizards in 2001. Jordan retired for the final time after the 2002-03 season.

Jordan’s team won all six of his appearances in the NBA Finals.

“The greatest player of all time. Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA championships, winning six Finals MVP awards and five regular-season MVP honors while becoming a global icon on and off the floor,” wrote ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “Jordan’s brilliance on both ends of the court defined a generation of basketball and set a new standard for players following in his footsteps. His game transcended the sport.”

Career Achievements

  • Six-time NBA champion (1991-1993, 1996-1998)
  • Six-time NBA Finals MVP (1991-1993, 1996-1998)
  • Five-time NBA Most Valuable Player (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998)
  • 14-time NBA All-Star (1985-1993, 1996-1998, 2002, 2003)
  • Three-time NBA All-Star Game MVP (1988, 1996, 1998)
  • 10-time All-NBA First Team (1987-1993, 1996-1998)
  • All-NBA Second Team (1985)
  • NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1988)
  • Nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team (1988-1993, 1996-1998)
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1985)
  • NBA All-Rookie Team (1985)
  • 10-time NBA scoring champion (1987-1993, 1996-1998)
  • 3-time NBA steals leader (1988, 1990, 1993)
  • Two-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion (1987, 1988)
  • No. 23 jersey retired by Chicago Bulls (and Miami Heat despite never playing for the organization)
  • NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team

Jordan now owns the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. ESPN is currently airing a 10-part documentary on Jordan’s career called “The Last Dance.” The final two parts will be televised on Sunday, May 17 at 7 p.m. (MDT).

ESPN’s Top 10 NBA Players of All-Time

In addition to Jordan and James, ESPN’s top 10 NBA players of all-time were ranked in the following order:

  1. Michael Jordan
  2. LeBron James
  3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  4. Bill Russell
  5. Magic Johnson
  6. Wilt Chamberlain
  7. Larry Bird
  8. Tim Duncan
  9. Kobe Bryant
  10. Shaquille O’Neal


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