Keidel: LeBron James Vs. Michael Jordan

By Jason Keidel

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Whenever we mention a player as possibly the greatest ever, our fathers always hurl a (pre)historic figure our way.

When we say Barry Sanders, he says Jim Brown. When we say Shaq, he says Wilt. When we say Bonds, he says Mays.

So let the blasphemy begin when we ponder LeBron James’s place in the pantheon. Is he about to become the best? Is he a year or two from hurdling His Airness?

Michael Jordan, his eminence, excellence, and the exemplar of modern basketball, is the unquestioned king. But can King James leave the game with just one more jewel in his crown?

It’s all subjective, of course. But one of our myriad pleasures in sports is comparisons, top-ten lists, and endless debate. It’s not always linear or logical, so we lean on stats and rings to assess royalty.

But if NBA titles were the main metric, then Bill Russell is the unquestioned boss of basketball. So we need an amalgam of numbers and titles to state a case for anyone as the gold standard. We need more than stats; we need equal measures of hardware and hardihood for the hardwood supremacy.

Jordan, the de facto logo, his high, wide-legged visage stamped on millions of sneakers, made millions of dollars, and won millions of hearts. When he retired, it was hard for even the most calcified soul to say he saw a better basketball player.

Both won their first titles when they were 27-years-old. Jordan won three in a row, LeBron won two, lost the three-peat to San Antonio. At 27, Jordan had three NBA MVP awards, LeBron also had three. (LeBron has four overall, while Jordan retired with five.) Jordan had won five scoring titles. LeBron has won one. Jordan had won a Defensive Player of the Year award. LeBron has not.

Jordan, of course, won six NBA titles, and lost none. LeBron has won two NBA Finals, and lost three.

It’s a slightly skewed comparison, since Jordan was 21 when he entered the league, while LeBron was 18. At age 28, Jordan had scored 19,000 points, had 1,594 steals, 623 blocks, 3,507 assists, 3,697 rebounds, hit 52% of his shots, in 589 games. LeBron had 20,804, 1,306 steals, 638 blocks, 5,227 assists, 5,481 rebounds, hit 49% of his shots, in 755 games.

With an extra two seasons worth of games under his belt, the numbers predictably tilt toward LeBron. But not by much.

So, LeBron has some work to do. Jordan was 29 when he won his third championship. Should LeBron lead Cleveland to the title this year, he will have his third ring at 30, equaling Jordan at the same age.

Jordan went on to win five more scoring titles, giving him ten, a number LeBron will never come near. Since his game spreads like butter across the box score, LeBron will never be as robust a scorer as Jordan. LeBron will retire with more assists and rebounds, but it’s the final game of the final round that will ultimately nudge the needle toward either icon.

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And LeBron isn’t going to take a hiatus to play our pastime. if we use 27 or 28 as a baseline, it won’t give us a clear winner by age 30, but since Father Time and Mother Nature tag-team every athlete, most will agree that LeBron, at 30, has about four or five years to make it to Michael-Land.

Should LeBron lose in the NBA Finals (most concede Cleveland will beat Atlanta to get there), then he will be a dubious 2-4 in the Finals, and will need to win at least three NBA championships in the next five years to share an orbit with His Airness.

Jordan retired with 32,292 points (all but about 3,000 of which scored with the Bulls), six rings, six NBA Finals MVP awards, ten scoring titles, five NBA MVP awards, and was a 14-time All-Star.

LeBron has scored 24,913 points, has two rings, two-time NBA Finals MVP, has four NBA MVP awards, one scoring title, and is an 11-time All-Star.

Jordan also averaged 33.4 points in the playoffs (5,987 total), in 179 games. LeBron has averaged 27.9 points in the playoffs (4,715 total) in 169 games.

So if you thrash through the swamp of statistics, you’ll see that the numbers are comparable, until you get to the final round of the playoffs. Like it or not, fair or not, Jordan’s flawless Finals play is what distinguishes him from anyone since Bill Russell.

Kobe Bryant is a notch below Jordan because he never got that sixth ring. LeBron gets copious credit for taking Cleveland’s forlorn franchise to the NBA Finals the first time, getting stomped by San Antonio, while perhaps no one other than LeBron would have started for the Spurs.

LeBron had no Pippen or Shaq, but Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh were rather credible copilots. And while LeBron should get kudos for making it to the Finals four straight times, he takes a hit for losing two of them. Kobe lost twice, but won five, and Jordan never tasted defeat.

Kevin Love is out and Kyrie Irving is hurt, putting LeBron in a familiar role as Batman sans Robin. But LeBron asked for this. He was excoriated for fleeing his hometown and home team for palm trees and Pat Riley. Then he was hailed as returning royalty when he took his name, game, and 21 million Twitter flock back to Akron.

There’s the physical. Now, the metaphysical. Did you ever get the sense that LeBron would die on the court, that he’s willing to sacrifice his friendships and following to squeeze those extra two points in the final two minutes out of his teammates? Does he care too much about his friends and fans to be the hardened assassin that defined Jordan’s career? It seems like eons ago, but LeBron did disappear in his first NBA Finals appearance with the Heat, losing to an older and inferior Mavericks team, despite being in charge of the series after three games. It will take talent and temerity for LeBron to breech the barrier between himself and His Airness.

So the next few years are indeed a referendum on his place on the Mt. Rushmore of NBA players. Once he made his move to Miami, took his talents to South Beach, he forfeited any sense of sympathy. He played the mercenary, the hired gun, whose soul was for sale despite his assertions that Ohio was his heart.

Maybe winning it all this June won’t make him Michael Jordan. But if LeBron somehow brings Cleveland its first title in any team sport since 1964, he won’t have to “be like Mike” to be a hero. And it will be a perfect platform to take flight and, maybe, match his might with His Airness.

***

Jason writes a weekly column for CBS Local Sports. He is a native New Yorker, sans the elitist sensibilities, and believes there’s a world west of the Hudson River. A Yankees devotee and Steelers groupie, he has been scouring the forest of fertile NYC sports sections since the 1970s. He has written over 500 columns for WFAN/CBS NY, and also worked as a freelance writer for Sports Illustrated and Newsday subsidiary amNew York. He made his bones as a boxing writer, occasionally covering fights in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, but mostly inside Madison Square Garden.

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Brothers Johnson’s Louis Johnson, Michael Jackson Bassist, Dead at 60

Louis Johnson, founding member of funk band the Brothers Johnson and an in-demand bassist who appeared on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” died on Thursday, May 21st. He was 60. His death was confirmed by his nephew Troy on Instagram, though a cause of death has yet to be revealed.

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“I’ve never been given parts to play in my whole life. I’m the most rare bass player in the whole world,” Johnson told Rolling Stone contributing writer Steve Knopper in 2013 for the upcoming book MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson. “No one ever gave me music paper to read; no one ever gave me anything to read. They tell me, ‘Here’s a track, play what you want.'”

The Los Angeles-based Brothers Johnson, a group featuring Louis and his brother George, got their start backing up Quincy Jones before releasing their acclaimed, Jones-produced debut LP Look Out for #1 in 1976. Over the next five years, the Brothers Johnson racked up three Number One hits on the R&B charts: 1976’s “I’ll Be Good to You,” their 1977 cover of Shuggie Otis’ “Strawberry Letter 23,” and 1980’s smash “Stomp!” (Their rendition of “Strawberry Letter 23″ was later featured prominently in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.) The Brothers Johnson’s 1980 album Light Up the Night, featuring “This Had to Be” co-written by Michael Jackson and featuring the King of Pop on background vocals, ascended to the top of the R&B album charts.

“Louis ‘Thunder Thumbs’ Johnson was one of the greatest bass players to ever pick up the instrument,” Jones tells Rolling Stone. “As a member of the Brothers Johnson, we shared decades of magical times working together in the studio and touring the world. From my albums Body Heat and Mellow Madness, to their platinum albums Look Out for #1Right On Time, Blam and Light Up the Night, which I produced, to Michael’s solo debut Off the Wall, I considered Louis a core member of my production team. He was a dear and beloved friend and brother, and I will miss his presence and joy of life every day.”

After the brothers parted ways in the early Eighties to pursue solo careers, Louis became known for his bass-playing prowess, emerging as a prolific, in-demand session musician. Johnson served as the primary bassist on Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall and later lent his skills to Jackson’s Thriller (“Billie Jean,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” “P.Y.T.”), Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards to Broad Street soundtrack and the all-star “We Are the World” collaboration.

“When I went to the session with ‘Billie Jean,’ I took like 10 basses and I lined ‘em up. I’d say, ‘Michael, pick one,'” Johnson told Rolling Stone. “He’d pick one with the zebra wood on it. It had 12 different kinds of wood, different layers. It was dark brown and tan and light-colored, and it looked like a tiger or a zebra. Michael picked it because it sounded good. I hot-rodded it. I beefed it up and put extra magnets underneath the pickups. I did all the things I knew how to do to get the best sound. That’s how come the bass sounded like that.”

Johnson is also credited with creating the bass line from Michael McDonald’s hit version of Leiber & Stoller’s “I Keep Forgettin’,” a melody that was later sampled by Warren G and Nate Dogg for “Regulate.” Over his long career, Johnson also worked with Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Herb Alpert and George Benson.

“I had access to all musicians and artists, from Barbra Streisand to Paul McCartney to Michael Jackson,” Johnson told Rolling Stone. “It was like an open door. The Lord blessed me with that — I prayed to God and my prayer he answered. He said, ‘OK, you got the whole world now.’ Every time I’d get in the car to go somewhere, I’d hear me playing the bass… I was all over the place. I released the funk on everybody.”

As news of Johnson’s death spread, hip-hop artists, funk legends and bassists inspired by “Thunder Thumbs” showed love on social media. “Thank you for blessing me and the world with your original #funk. RIP,” Lenny Kravitz tweeted, while Bootsy Collins added, “Another Brick in our music foundation has left the building. Mr. ‘Louis Johnson.'” Slave’s Steve Arrington wrote, “Just heard the great bass player and song writer Louis Johnson has passed away. Awe man….Going to miss U Thunder Thumbs.” My Morning Jacket bassist Tom Blankenship and the Roots’ Questlove wrote similar tributes to Johnson.

Additional reporting by Steve Knopper

Catalin Alexandru Duru Sets Guinness World Record for Farthest Journey by Hoverboard

Doc Brown and Marty McFly would be so proud. Recently, Catalin Alexandru Duru set a new Guinness World Record for Farthest Journey by Hoverboard. Duru was riding a prototype that he himself created, attempting to set the mark by journeying over Quebec’s Lake Ouareau. Catalin had to travel 164 feet to make the achievement, as he did so easily, making it 905 feet and 2 inches.

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Duru has dubbed his machine as the first real-life hoverboard — although Tony Hawk supposedly tried out the world’s first — as he claims the board can be used anywhere, although he generally tests it over water. It’s now 2015, weren’t we supposed to have these years ago?

The post Catalin Alexandru Duru Sets Guinness World Record for Farthest Journey by Hoverboard appeared first on Highsnobiety.

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Kelvin Benjamin Injury: Updates on Panthers WR’s Hamstring and Return

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is dealing with a hamstring injury and will likely miss organized team activities next week to give the ailment a chance to heal.  

Continue for updates.


Team Confirms Injury

Friday, May 22

Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer reports Benjamin strained a hamstring last week, and it’s now been confirmed by a Panthers spokesperson: “Second-year receiver Kelvin Benjamin strained his hamstring last week, a team spokesman confirmed. As a precaution, he likely won’t participate in next week’s activities, though he has been with the team on the field and in the locker room recently.”

Benjamin made an instant impact as a rookie for Carolina last season. He racked up 73 catches for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns.

He’s once again expected to serve as a key target this fall, so it wouldn’t make any sense to take even a minor risk with his health at this stage of the offseason. The Panthers are best off forcing him to sit out OTAs, even if it’s just a precautionary move.

Benjamin should be fine for training camp, barring any setbacks.

 

Kelvin Benjamin Injury: Updates on Panthers WR’s Hamstring and Return

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is dealing with a hamstring injury and will likely miss organized team activities next week to give the ailment a chance to heal.  

Continue for updates.


Team Confirms Injury

Friday, May 22

Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer reports Benjamin strained a hamstring last week, and it’s now been confirmed by a Panthers spokesperson: “Second-year receiver Kelvin Benjamin strained his hamstring last week, a team spokesman confirmed. As a precaution, he likely won’t participate in next week’s activities, though he has been with the team on the field and in the locker room recently.”

Benjamin made an instant impact as a rookie for Carolina last season. He racked up 73 catches for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns.

He’s once again expected to serve as a key target this fall, so it wouldn’t make any sense to take even a minor risk with his health at this stage of the offseason. The Panthers are best off forcing him to sit out OTAs, even if it’s just a precautionary move.

Benjamin should be fine for training camp, barring any setbacks.

 

This Dad Surprised His Daughter with a Game of Catch Instead of Traditional Father-Daughter Wedding Dance

Jim Mickunas and his daughter weren’t the dancing type — so they busted out a ball and some baseball mitts. All images and written content is property of the listed RSS FEED if you would like more on this story and images please click the listed feed. http://movies.thefablife.com/feed/

Now’s the Time to Order a Customized Edie Parker Clutch

Edie-Parker-Customizable-Clutch-Order

At this point, it seems like every famous fashion editor and female celebrity in Hollywood has a red carpet-ready Edie Parker clutch bearing either her name or that of her latest project. If you’ve ever wanted to make one of your very own or see what your ideal design would look like, Neiman Marcus has a handy tool that will let you do both.

Neiman Marcus’ tool will let you customize either a Jean (shorter) or Flavia (longer) box clutch for $1,795 or $1,995, respectively, and it’ll show you what your prospective clutch will look like with your color, finish and personalization choices. The Jean will hold five characters, while the Flavia holds 10, and both can be rendered in several colors and finished of hand-poured acrylic. Each clutch will take 6 to 8 weeks to arrive once ordered, and because each one is custom-made, the orders cannot be canceled or returned. As with most things in life, it’s best to be decisive.

If you’ve never held one of Edie Parker’s clutches in your hands, I can assure you that they’re really cool–luxurious, retro-modern, well-made. If you’ve been thinking you might like a one-of-a-kind version for yourself, now’s the time to do it.

What would you put on your Edie Parker clutch? If you’ve got something in mind, order your own via Neiman Marcus. There’s no indication on the site of when this opportunity ends, but in the past, custom-order windows have generally been a limited-time proposition. Something to keep in mind if you have an order to place!

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Letting The Freedom Of Truth Uncover The Value Of Life

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