Did Michael Jordan really face tougher playoff competition than LeBron James?

Did Michael Jordan really face tougher playoff competition than LeBron James?

Research

Did Michael Jordan really face tougher playoff competition than LeBron James?

When arguing why LeBron James doesn’t belong in the conversation with Michael Jordan when discussing all-time NBA greats, you will typically hear about MJ’s championships and his Finals’ infallibility.

Without a question, MJ has the upper hand there with six titles to LeBron’s three and a 100 percent record in championship series to King James’ 3-of-7.

With LeBron moving to No. 1 ahead of Jordan on the all-time playoff scoring list, we’re now hearing more and more about how MJ had to play much tougher competition in the Eastern Conference than LBJ ever did.

But is that right?

We crunched some numbers to shed some light on the matter.

First, we went through the whole list of playoff opponents of Jordan and James. The combined regular-season record of MJ’s postseason rivals was 1,981-1,053. LeBron James’? 2,070-1,227

So yeah, MJ’s opponents did slightly better in the regular season on average than LeBron’s.

In his playoff career, Jordan faced nine 60-win teams and only lost two of those series. Outside of the Warriors this season, LeBron has played seven 60-win squads… with a 3-4 record.

If we look at the star power they had in front during their postseason runs, things are pretty balanced. We looked up the number of All-Star appearances, All-NBA 1st/2nd Team selections and MVP trophies opponents racked up the years they faced either Jordan or James in the playoffs.

That’s basically a tie.

MJ met Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone in the playoffs in seasons in which they won the Maurice Podoloff trophy. LeBron did the same thing with Derrick Rose and twice with Stephen Curry.

So what’s your take?

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