The moonshine must be good up in Montana.
SportsRadioInterviews.com has Jackson's comparative assessment between the NBA's current best and the Greatest Of All Time.
James is 27 and coming on like a freight train. As noted when Wade first made his comments, 27 was a critical age for Jordan, as it represented the high-water mark of personal production for his career. He went on to win ring after ring after ring, but his personal accumulations started to slack at that point, receding from his impossible to maintain early-career standard and briefly disappearing when he tried his hand at minor league baseball and then hung it up for a second time before launching an unfortunate comeback with the Washington Wizards that everyone has agreed to forget.
The main thrust of Jackson's argument, then, is spot on, even if he's granting James this massive stage a bit too early. James has the capability to accumulate accomplishments that could eventually far exceed Jordan's standards. If he doesn't get bored with basketball, doesn't take time off, continues to put up the same absurd stat lines that he has managed throughout his career and stays healthy, his final career numbers could blow Jordan's out of the water.
That won't be nearly enough for him to win the final "Jordan vs. James" argument, though. That will be all about rings. Jordan exists at the nexus between personal accomplishments and team glory. Going 6-0 in the Finals is the modern NBA's most pristine mark. James has already lost two Finals, and he has alienated a solid portion of the basketball intelligentsia along the way, especially for the forgettable summer of 2010. Even if James continues on a Wilt Chamberlain-esque course of statistical domination, he's facing an uphill battle for public opinion. Is six rings definitely enough if he has two Finals losses already to his name? Would 7-2 in the Finals be enough to topple the Jordan mythology and the now untouchable 6-0?
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has faced the same dilemma, and he's an excellent case study here. Bryant, too, has lost on the NBA's biggest stage, where Jordan did not. Should the new-look Lakers take the 2013 championship, giving Bryant his sixth title, will anyone outside of Southern California believe that achievement pushes Bryant past Jordan? Of course not. The nit-picking -- Bryant had way more help; he wasn't perfect in the Finals; he wasn't the No. 1 guy during the early championship years, etc. -- would rule the day.
That's the obstacle for James. To top a legend, you need to destroy it handily. We all know that history will grant Jordan every benefit of the doubt and every 50/50 call.