Who ya got? Jordan or LeBron? As the unanswerable GOAT debate continues to unfold, let’s defer to NBA 2K18 for some insight on the issue.
In the wake of LeBron’s ridiculous 2018 playoff tear, the debate to determine the NBA’s Greatest of All-Time has heated up once again. Even in the immediate aftermath of Cleveland’s Game 7 victory in Boston on Sunday night, which sealed LeBron’s eighth consecutive Finals trip, peripheral skirmishes began breaking out on NBA Twitter. This isn’t a new phenomenon of course. Battles between the Michael Jordan and LeBron James camps have erupted from time to time over the years, particularly since LeBron’s Cavaliers dethroned the 73-win Warriors back in 2016.
Over the past few months though, sports media has devoted a particularly large amount of bandwidth to this question. ESPN’s Get Up raises the issue every few weeks. The Ringer dedicated a full week of content to the Jordan-LeBron question back in February. The Pardon My Take podcast of Barstool Sports launched. And of course, the Twitter sniping escalates every few weeks.
At this point we’ve heard every argument ad nauseum and of course, nobody that has a set view on the issue has shown any willingness to concede an inch of space. Such debates are generally impossible to resolve and tend to devolve into shouting matches that shatter friendships! It’s all in good fun though.
So why not add some more fuel to fire? Where does basketball’s premier video game franchise stand on the matter? Whom does NBA 2K18 back in the GOAT debate, Jordan or LeBron? We simulated a seven-game series that featured five Jordans taking on five LeBrons. While this may not be the best way to shed some light on our dilemma, it’s certainly more fun than listening to talking heads drone on and on! Since Jordan has been the consensus GOAT for the better part of three decades, Team MJ had home court advantage. Here’s how things played out:
The GOAT series
Round one of this titanic clash went to Team Jordan. The MJs put on a passing clinic in the series opener, assisting on 48 out of 51 made baskets. After nailing a 3-pointer with one second left in regulation to tie, the LeBrons couldn’t keep up in OT, committing multiple turnovers and letting MJ get to the line. The bards of NBA lore have already begun to sing praises to the MJs:
Jordan, his Airness
dropping dimes on LeBron James
The LeBrons came back with a vengeance in Game 2, dominating from start to finish in a comfortable victory. They crushed the glass in this contest, and got to the line all day, building a 12-point lead by halftime and then cruising for the rest of the game.
Perhaps this was Bron’s Plan all along:
Game 3 made for another nail biter as the Jordans called upon their collective clutch gene to pull out a 97-95 victory in Cleveland. For Team LeBron, the night was dark and full of errors; though they dominated the boards once again, the LBJs committed an unthinkable 31 turnovers in the loss at home!!
Game 4: Team LeBron 97 – Team Jordan 81 (tied 2-2)
As we’ve seen so many times in the past, LeBron followed up a tough playoff loss with a huge victory. The LeBrons locked down Team Jordan in a ridiculous defensive performance. Team LBJ also lit the world aflame from deep, burying 10 out of 18 attempted 3-pointers in Game 4. The Jordans didn’t even get up 10 shots from 3-point land, making only 2 out of 9 attempts.
The two teams delivered another classic in Game 5, as Team LeBron outlasted the Jordans in Chicago. The LeBrons led by six with 20 seconds left, but almost fumbled the game away with some misses at the line. Team Jordan hit three shots from deep in those last 20 seconds, but still fell short 122-120. Unfortunately for Team MJ, those 3-pointers were their first makes from deep in the entire game. As Game 6 in Cleveland looms large… the plot thickens.
Bulls lose! Jordans lose! Team LeBron just eeked past the finish line in another game for the ages in Cleveland. The MJs staged a gutsy comeback after getting outplayed for the first three quarters of the game. Team Jordan was down eight points heading into the fourth and then erupted offensively, taking a 95-90 lead with 2:30 left to play in a slugfest of a game. But then the LeBrons stifled the MJs the rest of the way. They outscored the Jordans 11-4 in the dying embers of the game and pulling out a hard-fought victory and taking the series 4 games to 2.