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LeBron still has work to do
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The NBA Finals are over and once again, LeBron James is the MVP.

What say you, Magic Johnson?

"The only thing left for LeBron is where is he going to finish? Will he become the greatest that's ever played? Can I catch Michael? That's what this is about for LeBron."

Here's a fun exercise. Type the words "LeBron" and "Jordan" into Google.

In less than a second, Google will have 81 million results for you to choose from.

One of those offerings appeared in Friday's USA Today. The title of the column reads, "LeBron James is actually better than Michael Jordan was then."

You can pour as much water on the flames as you want. This fire isn't going out any time soon.

In an Air Jordan commercial a few years ago, MJ said, "Maybe I destroyed the game."

In a way, he kind of did, didn't he? We'll never be able to enjoy LeBron for LeBron. He'll always be compared to "His Airness" and so will every great player that comes after LeBron (That means you, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard).

But didn't LeBron bring some of this attention on himself? Even three years later, The Decision remains as big a part of LeBron's legacy as the two rings on his fingers.

That's not to say Michael Jordan never got help along the way. Two of his teammates (Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman) are enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

But the James/Wade/Bosh dynamic has undoubtedly changed the way we look at LeBron's resume.

Even if his opponents hated him (most of them were too busy being in awe to feel that way), the general public still worshiped Jordan in a way that LeBron has never experienced. Three years after The Decision, we're still not completely over it.

We don't know whether to trust LeBron or not. Some people still think he might bolt for Los Angeles after next season.

Almost all of the greats, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Jordan (we're not counting his stint with the Wizards), stayed in one city for their entire career. They didn't have to leave town to build a dynasty.

LeBron did.

But that's only part of it. The other part is much simpler.

On the court, LeBron has been incredible. But not as incredible as MJ.

Jordan never lost an NBA Finals. He was a perfect 6-0. LeBron has lost twice already.

Jordan and the Bulls were rarely challenged during their eight-year reign of dominance from 1990 to 1998. In six Finals appearances, the Bulls never had to play a Game 7. Miami needed a last minute Spurs meltdown to even make it to Game 7.

People forget just how versatile MJ was. During the 1991 NBA Finals, Jordan (who was the same age as LeBron is now) averaged a marvelous 31.2 ppg on 55.8 percent shooting with 11.4 apg and 6.6 rpg. LeBron posted 25.3 ppg, 10.9 rpg and 7.0 apg in the 2013 Finals. He shot 44.7 percent from the field in the series.

Jordan's lowest scoring output in that series (a 4-1 series win over the Magic Johnson-led L.A. Lakers) was 28 points in Game 4. He also had 13 assists in that game. LeBron scored fewer than 20 points three times against San Antonio.

The outcome was never in doubt when Jordan was on the court. Even in the closing seconds, I wasn't sure if the Heat would hold on.

Jordan made it look easy. LeBron didn't.

Is LeBron the best player on the planet right now? Yes.

Is he the best fantasy player? You better believe it.

But better than Jordan? Not yet.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.