Any comparison between LeBron James and Michael Jordan is naturally made across eras. That is not only true when discussing playing styles on the court but also media coverage off it.
The difference in technology and media between those two eras is why James’ longtime friend and agent Rich Paul believes that his client has had it tougher than Jordan.
“LeBron is the first player to have to deal with a 24-7-365 news cycle of sports and opinions from those who are not even capable or carry the expertise to give a valid opinion,” Paul said on the podcast of former NBA player Gilbert Arenas this week.
Paul also said that James’ propensity to do things “how [he] decides to do it” and the fact that he came after Jordan and thus is constantly compared to him also factors into why Paul believes James is more criticized than Jordan.
“I just think LeBron’s antlers are in platinum and Michael’s may be in gold,” Paul said. “He had to be compared to Mike. Who did Mike have to be compared to?”
Skip Bayless reacted to Paul’s comments on Tuesday’s episode of “Undisputed” alongside co-hosts Michael Irvin, Keyshawn Johnson and Richard Sherman.
“Not only has LeBron not been hurt by social media, he has benefited hugely using social media,” Bayless said. “He has 158 million [Instagram] followers. He has 53 more million Twitter followers. A lot of those are just as gullible of fools as the people who are blogging out of control without any checks and balances. They are what I call the blind witnesses who actually are diluted and deluded into believing that LeBron is the ‘G.O.A.T.’ when it’s not even close.”
Bayless also pushed back on Paul’s belief that the Jordan comparison was unwillingly forced on LeBron.
“This whole idea that LeBron had to be compared to Michael, he didn’t,” Bayless said. “He asked to be. He chose to be. He was the first to say, ‘I want No. 23 and I’m going to steal his powder toss before games.’ You don’t think he was saying, ‘I got next’?
After publicly flirting with retirement following the Lakers’ loss to the eventual champion Nuggets in the Western Conference finals last summer, James is set to return for his 21st NBA season and sixth in Los Angeles this fall.
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