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Don't let Michael Jordan nostalgia make you miss out on LeBron's greatness

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Don't let Michael Jordan nostalgia make you miss out on LeBron's greatness

LeBron James continues to make history, and people continue to find reasons to downgrade it. 

Wednesday night, James passed Michael Jordan to move into fourth place on the NBA's all-time points list, which means it's another squirt of lighter fluid on the "LeBron vs. Jordan" debate fire, but also another excuse for people to water a milestone down. 

The "LeBron vs. Jordan" argument is worthless right now. Fans are too emotionally invested in just one side, living in the moment.

Yes, it's ironic coming from someone that's regularly had this debate both on TV and radio (I might start it again on Wizards Outsiders  Friday, 6 PM on NBC Sports Washington Plus), but it's still true. 

Until LeBron's story is done being written, we can't truly compare his career to Jordan's.

Fans look at one career through the foggy glasses of nostalgia, while the other is dissected in real-time through the magnifying glass of social media. Opinions will be tainted until both careers are viewed only through our memories. 

Essentially, like fans forget the bad stuff with Jordan, soon the masses will overlook the majority of LeBron's failures, this season included.

Then we can really have a conversation. 

Yes, Jordan won six titles in six tries, but people forget things like his 11-for-27 shooting performance in a Game 4 loss in the 1997 NBA Finals. Or, the fact that he beat a Jazz team that scored just 54 points (seriously) for an entire game in the 1998 Finals.

Also, Robert Horry won seven, so let's pump the breaks on using titles in a team sport as the end-all-be-all to decide a player's value.

The last four NBA FInals have subjected LeBron to going through the most stacked team in NBA history. Jordan never played a team with more than two All-Stars. 

LeBron brought his team back from a 3-1 deficit to beat a Warriors franchise that won 73 games in the regular season, one more than Jordan's Bulls. LeBron also never lost in the first round of the playoffs, Jordan did.

We examine LeBron so intently that every play matters in the moment, but just remember the highlights from Jordan's time. 

#NBATwitter breaks down LeBron's effort on defense in his 16th season on a random Tuesday night but forgets that every team he's left has had massive fall-off with him no longer on the roster. The Cavs went from 61 wins to 19 the first time he left, and have the third-worst record in the NBA this year after getting dragged to the Finals in 2018. Oh, Miami also went from 54 to 37 wins when LeBron left South Beach, while Jordan's Bulls went from 57 to still 55 wins the first time he retired. 

LeBron is the first player in NBA history with over 30,000 career points, 8,000 career assists, and 8,000 career rebounds, which is why it took longer for him to pass Jordan on the scoring list. His game is totally different than Jordan's was, but fans would rather add up the extra games it took instead of acknowledging the list that only he occupies.

LeBron's mindset has been to make the best play first, not just a scoring play, and yet he still was able to climb into the Top-5. It's remarkable. 

"LeBron played in an era where no one can touch him" gets thrown around, but people forget that Jordan never played against a zone defense, which is used to stop isolation. 

Also, LeBron is huge and still a once-in-a-generation athlete, and could have played with any rules, so please stop that narrative. 

Look, nostalgia is a powerful emotion. How often do you think back on your childhood and say "man life was easy", when in reality, in that moment, you likely had a million things that you thought were terrible when you were going through it. It's human nature to forget the bad times with things we love. 

We can't have a true decision on whether it's Jordan or LeBron until both movies are done. 

Yes, this Lakers' season is horrendous, and plenty of blame goes on LeBron. Seeing him pass Michael in that uniform was just weird, and it should have been in Cleveland. But this era of player movement is the new norm in the NBA. This is a different league, and players have to adapt to a fast pace and constantly changing landscape if they want to succeed. This isn't the 90's anymore. Players jump teams and take control of their careers more than ever. 

Plus, it was just as weird to watch Jordan play in a Wizards uniform late in his career, an era that's forgotten outside of D.C. Those were years 14 and 15, and though he was older, it was one of those "star finishes career in random uniform" situations, which deep down is what LeBron is doing in L.A. anyway. The difference for LeBron is he's still widely considered the best player in the NBA, and Jordan had been retired for three seasons and that was just extra credit for his career. 

Think about it, the last time LeBron James didn't make the NBA Finals "Toy Story 3" was the No. 1 movie in America, "Tik Tok" by Kesha was the No. 1 song, and Instagram and Snapchat hadn't been launched yet. That's an incredible run that we just gloss over because some video on Twitter showed him sulking. 

So yes, arguments can be made on both sides, and we've all been there. For right now, in the middle of this milestone, let's take a second to just put away the magnifying glass, and look back at what LeBron has accomplished with our own nostalgia, realizing this will likely never be matched again. 

That right there, is how you truly measure greatness. 




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LeBron James had his worst-ever game against the Wizards in Lakers' loss

LeBron James had his worst-ever game against the Wizards in Lakers' loss

No Wizards fan needs to be reminded of the torment their favorite team has suffered at the hands of LeBron James for the last decade-and-a-half. He has eliminated them from the playoffs three times, scored 57 in their building and hit a variety of game-winning shots.

So, it should be considered no small feat what the Wizards did on Sunday night in their 128-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. They held James, arguably the league's best player, to only 13 points. That's his lowest scoring total ever against the Wizards franchise.

James has played the Wizards 65 times over the years, between the regular season and the playoffs. His previous career low vs. the Wizards was 14, back on Feb. 7 of 2004, when he was a rookie.

While in the Eastern Conference for his first 15 NBA seasons, James played the Wizards four times a year and often had the upper-hand. In his career, even with Sunday's loss, he is 30-19 against them with a 26.9 points per game average in the regular season. He is 12-4 vs. the Wizards in the playoffs.

Usually, James powers his way to the rim against the Wizards and scores at will. Not on Sunday night.

"I have no clue," head coach Scott Brooks said when asked for the secret to shutting him down.

"It seems like every night it's 40 points here. He makes shots. Last year, here I think he averaged [39.9 points, 11.0 assists and 10.0 rebounds]. He's a pretty good player."

James shot just 5-for-16 from the field on Sunday, good for 31.3 percent. He was 0-for-2 from three and had four turnovers with only three assists. He was a -21 in the box score.

Some of James' struggles could be attributed to fatigue, as the Lakers played the night before in Charlotte. And James did have an off-night with some missed shots he would otherwise make.

But the Wizards had a plan and it worked. They deployed Jeff Green to guard him in isolation. Green is not only the Wizards' best match from a physical standpoint, he knows James well having played with him last season with the Cavaliers.

Green did an excellent job matching James' physical style without fouling. He had only one foul on the night despite playing bump-and-run coverage on many of James' drives to the basket.

Green and the Wizards also took away his three-point looks by closing early and making him pass to teammates. James' two three-point attempts were a season-low.

"Give a lot of credit to Jeff. Jeff did a great job," guard John Wall said. "It was one game. We know he is how he is. Just gotta tip your hat for us, making him make tough shots and make plays tonight."

The Wizards wanted others to beat them from long range and James' teammates didn't come through. While James didn't get off many threes, other Lakers did. They just didn't hit them.

Josh Hart went 0-for-5 from long range. Lonzo Ball went 2-for-7 and Kyle Kuzma went 0-for-4. 

“I think we did a good job of making it difficult on [James], showing him a lot of bodies, active hands," guard Bradley Beal said.

With James in check, the Wizards took advantage. They forced 22 total turnovers and that allowed Wall to feast in transition. He scored a season-high 40 points and dished 14 assists.

For one night, the Wizards had James' number. After 16 years of domination, it was about time.


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Wizards vs. Lakers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards vs. Lakers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

The Wizards (11-18) host LeBron James and the Lakers (18-11) on Sunday, Dec. 15 inside Capital One Arena for the first of two matchups of the 2018-19 season.

The Wizards enter Sunday having lost four straight games, with the latest coming to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.

The Wizards were in the news this weekend for reasons off the court, trading Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday in exchange for forward Trevor Ariza. But since the deal has yet to become official, Ariza will not be in action for the Wizards when they host the Lakers on Sunday.

Sunday will mark the first time LeBron James takes the floor in Capital One Arena as a member of the Lakers, a building that James has had tremendous success over his career with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat.

It should be a good one when these two teams meet. Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, and more:


What: Washington Wizards vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
Time/Date: Sunday, 12/16/18 at 6:00 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Washington (6:00 p.m.)
Live stream: You can watch the Wizards vs. Lakers live stream on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and the MyTeams by NBC Sports App. Download MyTeams now for full postgame coverage and 24/7 Wizards news.
Radio: 1500 AM


5:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders 
5:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live
6:00 PM: Wizards vs. Lakers
8:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live 
9:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders 


Wizards: Dwight Howard (out, lumbar microdisectomy procedure)

Lakers: Brandon Ingram (out, ankle), Rajon Rondo (out, hand), Michael Beasley (out, personal)


Number of all-time Meetings: 197 games (6 playoff games)

Regular Season Record: Lakers lead series 118-73

Playoff Record: Lakers lead series 4-2

Last Meeting: Wizards beat Lakers 111-95 on 11/9/2017