Originally Posted by KC_Connection
Stats allow us to compare the two players on equal footing and allow a story to be told about the two players without having to rely on memory or mythologizing (and without being impacted by nostalgia or their respective media images). It's a fair, objective, and unbiased way to compare.
When an argument boils down to MJ is the greatest player of all time just because he is, it doesn't work. It's not some kind of self-evident fact, it needs to be proven like anything else (or else you wind up looking like some Yankees fans who baselessly believe Jeter is the greatest SS to ever play). MJ's stats and his obviously his team's titles make that argument work, just as LeBron's (wherever he ends up with) will do the same at the end of his career.
The idea that they should be compared apples to apples based on a bunch of statistics is completely inaccurate.
Joe Montana never ONCE threw for over 4,000 yards in a single season. Marino did it 5 times (and almost did it two times after that). Ben Roethlisberger has an absolutely atrocious TD to INT ratio compared to a lot of playoff QBs.
Tim Duncan has only led the league in Rebounds once. And never led the league in points. Does that mean he wasn't a good player? LeBron is probably a better defender than Jordan. Does that get factored in? Jordan smokes pretty much every player ever when it comes to game winning shots. Does that get factored in? What about leadership? How does that rank statistically? Supporting cast -- we're already getting into subjective arguments about which supporting cast is better.
Nobody relies purely on statistics. Otherwise, Karl Malone and Kareem would be put ahead of even MJ. The true benchmark is that if you were to start a franchise today and could sign one player to the same dollar contract, by career end, who would you take? Again, LeBron is going to have to do more than produce and win a few rings to beat out Jordan on that, and it's going to have to be more than just padding the stat line.