Is LeBron James truly a clutch player like Michael Jordan?
Now in his 20th season, LeBron was called a clutch player by a reporter representing ESPN Brazil, and even though he laughed sarcastically, he truly felt like that comment was a long time coming. The media and online influencers have been demoting LeBron’s talents in the clutch for years.
The real question that should be asked is, what makes a player clutch? Is it just the scoring, or is there more to it? In terms of scoring in the clutch, there is no debate about it, Michael Jordan is the go-to guy. Some stats may show LeBron being better by a small percentage, but most seem to forget LeBron’s long career. He has had more game opportunities since Michael only played thirteen seasons, in contrast to LeBron’s 20, and is still going. If you factor this in, LeBron’s 6th Game-winner that barely surpassed MJ is not that impressive.
We look at the stats the same way we review Kobe’s stats compared to MJ’s. In the case of Kobe Bryant, it truly isn’t a debate of who is more clutch since the fact that Kobe’s attempts at game-winners trump Michael’s, so the debate of who is more clutch is not needed. While LeBron attempted the same amount of shots as Michael and has one more game-winner shouldn’t be the nail in the coffin for the GOAT debate.
Let’s reiterate some facts, LeBron has been in the league for seven more years than MJ and has played 266 playoff games to Michael’s 179. That is an extra 87 games, of which 197 of them were within a 10-point margin giving LeBron a huge advantage, yet he barely seems to edge out Michael. The stats don’t lie; LeBron, on occasion, scored great game-winners, but when you look, all of them were unintentional or were due to his lack of options. There is no such thing as luck regarding talented players like LeBron, but data do not back up the intention of winning the game. While Michael, not only has shown to be more effective in the clutch on the field per game ratio, his trophy cabinet still outweighs LeBron’s. He has won more MVP trophies, Final MVPs, NBA Championships, Scoring titles, and DPOTY, to name a few.
LeBron will always be in the discussion for the Greatest of all time, but Michael will always have that edge, and all the stats thrown out there without any context create a debate that should not exist. LeBron is a better all-around player, but that doesn’t make you clutch or the GOAT of Basketball, especially when he has had a history of depending on others to make the clutch plays for him, and the incident of the 2011 NBA finals is definitely not to be forgotten. The best comparison would be Chris Paul. While he is the best all-around Point Guard of all time, he is still missing specific attributes and trophies that could make him the Goat of point guards.