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Poll: 73% of fans believe Michael Jordan was a better player than LeBron James

A poll conducted by ESPN in conjunction with the conclusion of its runaway hit documentary “The Last Dance” finds that a majority of NBA fans believe that when it comes to a comparison between Michael Jordan and LeBron James, His Airness is the superior overall player.

In fact, there was no single metric covering both on- and off-the court qualities in which fans participating in the poll found James to be better than Jordan.

To help account for any potential bias due to generational differences in assessing the careers of Jordan and James, the poll split the 600 respondents into two age-defined groups: 18-34 and 35 and older. To no surprise, Jordan was overwhelmingly favored in the older age group, with 79% of respondents picking Jordan as the superior player.

What is surprising, however, is that 66% of respondents in the younger age group still preferred Jordan.

All things being equal, one would suspect that recency bias would favor James in a best-player showdown with Jordan, especially among younger fans.

However, it appears that the popularity of “The Last Dance,” a wildly popular 10-part docuseries that chronicled Jordan’s final season with the Bulls and other aspects of his iconic career, may have swayed fans to lean in even further into the notion of MJ’s superiority over James.

However, the poll has had its fair share of detractors on social media, particularly due to one metric that critics argue ridiculously and unfairly favors Jordan over James.

The case can be made that pitting players from different eras is nothing more than a trivial, academic exercise. No definitive conclusion arguably can ever be reached due to the respective eras’ differing styles of play, different rules, the list goes on and on.

Jordan clearly came out on top of a head-to-head battle with James in this poll. When it came to the NBA’s overall GOAT debate, 65% of respondents still favored Jordan over James, with 14% believing it’s James and 13% saying it’s too close to call. Only 8% of respondents opted for a different player.