Bill Laimbeer on whether he’d take LeBron James or Michael Jordan in their primes, via The Dan Patrick Show:
"There’s no question that I would take LeBron James. He can do more. Michael Jordan could score and make big shots and look spectacular at times with wild flying dunks. But LeBron can get you 18 rebounds. LeBron can get you 15 assists if he chooses to. Or he can score 50 if he wanted to. The triple-threat that he poses is just phenomenal. And his size – god, he just physically dominates. It’s impressive."
Laimbeer on Jordan’s 6-0 and LeBron’s 2-3 NBA Finals records:
"You look at what LeBron has in the Finals right now. You go tell me any team in the world with the role players that he has around him right now, anybody else in this league or anybody else in the world, could they have led the team that he has around him right now to the Finals? I don’t think so. Jordan couldn’t have led this team to the Finals."
Laimbeer on why LeBron could lead the Cavaliers to the Finals and Jordan couldn’t:
"LeBron, he rebounds. He gets all the rebounds."
Laimbeer on how how the Bad Boys would have defended LeBron:
"That’s a tough one. You can’t knock him down. He’ll knock you down. Nobody’s ever seen a physical specimen like LeBron. 6-8, 285, strong, jumps out of the gym, runs like the wind, Man, I’m in awe of this guy. Just take charges on him, I guess would be the best thing to do. Just get him in foul trouble somehow. Go at him when you’re on offense. Just limit his ability to play for 40 minutes. Get him down in the low 30s because of foul trouble or something. That’s really the only way you can stop him."
1. To me, it’s VERY close between Jordan and LeBron in their primes. I’d lean toward LeBron at this moment, but ask me again in five minutes, and my answer might change.
Jordan belongs ahead of LeBron on the all-time greatest list, because Jordan played longer. LeBron, just 30, has a chance to catch Jordan.
But when simply comparing primes, longevity is irrelevant. And that makes the competition extremely close.
2. Laimbeer is definitely correct that LeBron is more well-rounded than Jordan was. That doesn’t make LeBron better, though. Not all skills are created equal, and Jordan dominated at the ones that matter most – scoring, defending, mentality.
3. I think Jordan would have gotten a Cavaliers-caliber team to the Finals, maybe even this specific Cavaliers team.
Laimbeer seems to twist this point too far by bringing up rebounding. Yes, LeBron is a better rebounder than Jordan was. But this Cleveland team was built with that in mind. Everyone was put in place to complement LeBron. If the Cavaliers had Jordan, they probably would have sought rebounding help and not worried as much about getting wing defense from role players.
4. I love Laimbeer’s plan for stopping LeBron. Just after point out that LeBron is a physical tank unlike anyone we’ve ever seen, Laimbeer suggests taking charges against him as if it’s not a scary proposition. Laimbeer is one of the few people mentally and physically tough enough to believe that’s a good idea.