While Jordan scored more points per game than James, James is more of an all-around player, besting Jordan in rebounds per game and assists per game averages. LeBron is also a more efficient scorer, with an effective field goal percentage of .541 compared to Jordan's .509.
James has been an All-NBA selection every season since his rookie year, when he won the Rookie of the Year award coming straight out of high school. In 12 of these 15 seasons, he was on the first team.
LeBron has also faced tougher competition than Jordan since joining the league in 2003-players are bigger, faster, and stronger overall than they were in the 1980s and 90s.
Maybe the strongest case for LeBron being the "GOAT" is his own argument. In the 2016 NBA Finals, LeBron's Cleveland Cavaliers were down three games to one against the Golden State Warriors team (led by back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry) that held an unprecedented 73-9 record at the end of the regular season. James willed the Cavs to three straight wins, capturing the franchise's first ever title. It marked the first time in NBA Finals history that a team had come back from down 3-1 to win a title.
When Michael Jordan retired from basketball to pursue baseball in 1993, he had already put together an impressive career: two MVP awards, seven straight scoring titles, three straight NBA titles, three straight NBA Finals MVP awards, a Defensive Player of the Year award, seven straight All-NBA first team selections, and six straight NBA All-Defensive First Team selections in nine seasons. That included a rookie season in which Jordan won the ROTY and was selected to the All-NBA Second Team, and missed 64 games from a broken foot in his second season.
After missing the 1993-94 season playing Minor League Baseball, Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls to continue his basketball dominance. He played three straight full seasons from 1995-1998, winning three NBA scoring titles, three NBA Championships, three NBA Finals MVP awards, two MVP awards, three All-NBA First Team selections, and three All-NBA Defensive First Team selections.
Jordan's legendary NBA Finals performances solidified him as the greatest of his time. Whether it be his 69-point game in 1990, inspiring dunks from the free throw line, heroic 38-point "Flu Game" in the 1997 NBA Finals, or iconic performance to win the 1998 Finals and secure his second "three-peat;" "Air Jordan" is undeniably one of the best basketball players of all time.
Still, many point to Jordan's teammates as being more skilled than LeBron's. Although he was certainly the leader of these teams, Jordan was consistently helped by legends such as Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, and Dennis Rodman en route to his six titles.
Although LeBron James and Michael Jordan are the consensus first and second best players of all time, there is a special place for Kobe Bryant among the greats. While notorious for his lack of efficiency and high volume shooting, Kobe's unmatched relentlessness willed his teams to five NBA Championships.
Unlike James or Jordan, Bryant did not have a huge instant impact for his team. It took him until his third season to crack the starting lineup. In his fourth season, Kobe teamed up with legendary big man Shaquille O'Neal to win three straight NBA Championships from 2000-2002. Kobe became the youngest player ever to win three titles, earning widespread respect for his clutch shot-making abilities in the process.
Still, much of the credit went to Shaq instead of Kobe. The two had a public rivalry after Shaq left the Lakers to win a fourth ring.
Bryant's on- and off-court feuds with players and coaches were well-documented, but on the court he remained dominant. Kobe famously scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, the second-most points ever in a single game.
Bryant returned the Lakers to NBA Championship glory in 2009 and 2010, winning Finals MVP awards in both series.
At seven feet tall, Wilt Chamberlain physically dominated his opponents at every level of the game, constantly being fouled to prevent otherwise easy buckets.
Chamberlain also won the scoring title for the next five years, posting averages of 50.4 PPG and 25.7 RPG in 1961-62.
Although he only won two NBA Championships, Chamberlain was undeniably one of the greatest players of all time. In his prime, the only player who had a chance of stopping him was the legendary Bill Russell.
Chamberlain's most impressive feat, though, may be his 100-point game in 1962. While he may not have as much hardware as others, it's hard to argue that Wilt isn't the greatest statistical player of all time.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, formerly known as Lew Alcindor, makes this list because of his incredibly successful and lengthy career. In his 20 NBA seasons, Abdul-Jabbar amassed 19 All-Star Game appearances, 15 All-NBA selections, six MVP awards, and six NBA Championships (one with the Bucks; five with the Lakers).
Abdul-Jabbar sits atop the NBA career record books for points scored, minutes played, field goals, field goal attempts, 2-point field goals, 2-point field goal attempts, offensive win shares, and total win shares. He is also third in total blocks, although the stat was not recorded until his fifth season in the league.
Abdul-Jabbar teamed up with Earvin "Magic" Johnson to win five NBA titles from 1980-88 in what became known as the "Showtime Lakers" era.