CultureSunday 05.22.22

The Real Jordan vs. LeBron Debate: Who's Happier?

In 1984, the NBA’s Chicago Bulls drafted a player by the name of Michael Jordan. The North Carolina Tar Heels alumnus was only picked third overall, an almost comical piece of trivia given the level of dominance he would impose on the game and the recognition he would gain on a global scale.

LeBron James, in contrast, was a first pick right out of high school in 2003.

But LZ and Will don’t want to retread a tired conversation about which athlete is better. Instead they discuss Jordan and James as men first and athletes second.

The biggest difference between them isn’t that Michael has won six championships to LeBron’s four (and earned six Finals MVPs to LeBron’s four). Rather, it's that Michael Jordan, according to many portraits drawn by sports reporters (and by the Jordan-approved miniseries, The Last Dance) appears miserable. LeBron is socially engaged with the world around him. Jordan is consumed by a never-ending desire to win.

“It feels as if he's motivated by a hate for losing, and LeBron appears to be more motivated by an enjoyment of victory,” LZ says. “I know I sound like I'm splitting hairs, but I really feel that a person who hates to lose will do some of the things that we've heard about Michael Jordan in terms of constantly trying to gamble.”

LZ and Will talk about whether Michael Jordan may be the unhappiest superstar of them all.

The Long Game