The great debate

By Brandon Bush

 

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been focusing my column space more on local sports rather than national stories as keeping our attention on our coverage area should be our first priority.

However, this is easier said than done; we’ve arrived at summer and that means very little activity around our area as far as sports go. The most action we’re seeing right now is summer workouts, games at the recreation departments and other various, isolated instances.

For this reason, I’m breaking my rule and delving into the wild west of the sports world this week. But first, let me throw in just a bit of local stuff so this column isn’t a total departure.

I had the privilege of covering yet another Putnam County athlete signing a letter of intent to play at the next level. Rykia Pennamon of the Lady War Eagles basketball team will play basketball at South Georgia Technical College. Pennamon was one of the central players of the Lady Eagles’ team this year and played a major role in the team earning 20 wins this season and earning a spot in the state playoffs.

A few career totals for Pennamon include 1,585 points, 770 rebounds, 245 assists, 211 steals and 41 blocks. Given how well she’s done in her time at Putnam County, there is no doubt in my mind that she will be a huge gain for South Georgia Tech.

Despite her departure, I also don’t doubt that the Lady War Eagles will have another successful year on the court this year.

So, congratulations to Rykia Pennamon on her accomplishment, and I think I speak for most of Putnam County when I say I hope you have the best of luck at the next level.

While we’re on the subject of basketball, let’s get into the main topic of this column since the biggest basketball series of the year just wrapped up.

If you keep up with the NBA at all, you’re probably familiar with the fact that we had yet another Finals series between the Golden State Warriors and LeBron James (if the Cavaliers actually had any other noteworthy players, maybe I’d mention the whole team here). Season four of “Cavs vs. Warriors” was a bit unique, however, as it marks the first time since 2007 that James was swept in an NBA finals (it was his first NBA Finals appearance of his career and he was swept by my man Tim Duncan and San Antonio. Go Spurs).

As always, there’s been plenty of discussion and controversy surrounding the end of another NBA season. Whether James wins or loses (because it’s pretty much expected of him to go to the Finals every year), the inevitable debate always resurfaces: Is LeBron James the greatest player of all time, even greater than the legendary Michael Jordan himself?

Supporters of the idea that Jordan has been eclipsed by James cite a number of reasons: statistics, his ability to score anywhere from 30-50 points in a game at will, his ability to win championships on multiple teams, for making an otherwise awful Cavaliers team relevant almost single handedly and, among one of his greatest achievements in his career, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Warriors in their second matchup to give the city of Cleveland its first professional sports championship in 52 years. These are, of course, only scratching the surface of the many phenomenal things James has done in his career, which still has time remaining.

However, many still cite Jordan’s six rings, his own statistical feats and the empire he created as a basketball player as reasons why he will always reign supreme. Detractors of James will also point out that Jordan has won every NBA Finals he’s appeared in while James has three Finals wins and six losses (these same people don’t account for Jordon being knocked out of the first round many times, which is unheard of in James’ career).

I love basketball to death, but I’m still no expert (football players aren’t always ideal on the court) and the monotony of Warriors vs. Cavaliers for four straight years has burnt me out on NBA a bit. As such, I won’t go into the finer details of this debate as we will be here all day.

I will, however, humor you on my opinion on the matter. So, do I think LeBron is better than M.J.?

Yes and no; right off the bat, the comparison doesn’t make sense because James and Jordan play different positions (James is a forward while Jordan was a guard). Not only that, but the landscape of the NBA was drastically different in Jordan's time than now (I doubt Jordan ever had to deal with a monstrosity like the stacked Golden State Warriors led by Kevin Durant and Steph Curry).

I think it’s fair to say that Jordan was the greatest of his time and James is the greatest now, and I think that comparing them is a disservice to the accomplishments of both. However, if I had to choose, I think I’d have to side with the traditionalists who claim Jordan is still king.

At the end of the day, Jordon rose to the top with half the drama and theatrics that follows James on a daily basis. Jordan had a career that changed the entire NBA and while it is possible James can get to that point, he is not there now in my opinion.

I’ll leave you by opening this can of worms: both Jordan and James are better than Kobe Bryant. Sorry, but you can thank Shaq for half of Kobe’s career.

With this bit of world sports news out of the way, I hope to find more interesting things around Lake Country to keep you entertained with next week. Until then, have a good week and pray that “Warriors vs. Cavaliers” isn’t renewed for a fifth season next year.

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