Gary Payton says LeBron James is ‘a better all-around player’ than Michael Jordan

Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers

NBA Hall-of-Famer Gary Payton believes LeBron James is a “better all-around player” than Michael Jordan but argues against comparisons in the first place.

It’s a question that sparks debate and endless argument: Who is better, LeBron James or Michael Jordan?

The latest to weigh in is Gary Payton.

“If you ask me who’s a better all-around basketball player? LeBron James by far,” Payton said on Scoop B Radio Overtime.

Put away your pitchforks, Jordan fans, there’s more to the statement than just that.

For Payton, Jordan and James are “two totally different basketball players.”

Gary Payton compared LeBron James and Michael Jordan but he’d rather not

The facts bear out regarding LeBron’s overall skill-set. He has a career average of 7.9 rebounds to Jordan’s 6.2. The Los Angeles Lakers star has averaged 7.4 assists to Jordan’s 5.3.

Payton also argued James is a better dribbler, in addition to his passing and rebounding advantage.

Meanwhile, Jordan’s skill as a scorer can’t be argued. He averaged 30.1 points per game despite a scoring dip in his return with the Wizards. He averaged 31.5 per game with the Chicago Bulls. James has averaged 27 points per game across his career.

Jordan has the statistical edge on defense. He averaged 2.3 steals per game. James averages 1.6.

Payton suggests nixing the James and Jordan comparisons in favor of a more accurate one.

“I think LeBron is more like Magic,” Payton said.

Of course, comparing James to Magic Johnson doesn’t allow for a Greatest Of All-Time debate, which is really what comes into play with James and Jordan.

Stylistically, they’re different, but which one is the best ever?

Jordan’s killer instinct arguably gives him the leg up where James’ versatility gives him a boost.

There will never be a satisfying answer to this one. It all depends on your perspective and what skills and accolades you value. Do you think the scorer with an all-time great clutch gene is the most important player? Or is the facilitator whose all-around game sets him apart more valuable?

Payton didn’t exactly answer that one.

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