Former Cleveland Cavaliers player JR Smith had his say on the Michael Jordan – LeBron James debate saying they cannot be compared. In an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show on Monday, he explained what separates James from other greats like Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
“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,” he said of James.
Smith believed Bryant and Jordan were very similar to each other in terms of their style of play. They were primarily scorers, he believed.
“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.”
“You can’t compare a lion and a tiger”: JR Smith on Michael Jordan and LeBron James
They were indeed great shooters and their teams were built around their shooting. Both Bryant and Jordan had five 60-point games in their career. Bryant had, quite famously, ended his career with 60 points against Utah Jazz in 2016. Over his 20-year career, Bryant has averaged 25 points per game. Meanwhile, Jordan averaged 30 points per game in 1072 games that he played.
But James was far from being a bad shooter. However, his roles over the years, as Smith explained, haven’t been the same as Jordan or Bryant.
“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 said. “The lion is the king of the jungle. Everybody bows down to the lion. But that doesn’t stop the tiger from saying ‘I’m a bad motherf**ker too.’”
Smith’s metaphor of Lion and Tiger in the jungle seems to be a unique one. Over the years, there have been many experts and fans talking about Michael Jordan and LeBron James. It has never yielded an answer and it might never yield one at all. They will, however, remain as two of the greatest to have played the game.