A Public Policy Polling national survey reveals 34 percent of NBA fans believe Michael Jordan can beat LeBron James in a game of one-on-one.

That would be easy to believe if Jordan were in his prime.

However, the survey says a present-day Michael Jordan—all of 52 years old—is to be taken into consideration.


This just goes to show some fans either believe Jordan is really the basketball demigod or they’re out of touch with reality.

Prior to Game 6 of the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls second-round playoff series at the United Center on May 14, James told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin he doesn’t really dwell on comparisons with MJ:

I do think about what he was able to accomplish, but I don’t think about comparable. I don’t focus on that. But definitely, during the national anthem, things of that nature, I get caught looking up there [in the rafters], looking at the championship banners and looking at his jersey retired.

You know, absolutely, it’s impossible for me not to. He’s a guy that I always admired and looked up to growing up.

I guess, I mean, no really, I don’t know. I don’t really like, base my career off someone else’s and what they were able to do to a franchise.

Even if LBJ doesn’t pay much attention to the comparisons with a legend of Jordan’s stature, they’re inevitable especially now that James is a four-time MVP and two-time NBA champion himself.


National Survey Reveals 34 Percent of NBA Fans Believe Today’s Michael Jordan Can Beat LeBron James In a Game of One-On-One

Public Policy Polling, a company based in Raleigh, N.C., released the results of a national survey on May 14 revealing 34 percent of NBA fans believe today’s Michael Jordan can beat LeBron James in a one-on-one scrimmage game.


The survey starts off by revealing which the most popular sports in the United States are:

  1. NFL football: 56 percent
  2. MLB baseball: 46 percent
  3. NBA basketball: 37 percent
  4. Golf: 23 percent
  5. NHL hockey: 22 percent
  6. Boxing: 22 percent

It then shows which teams NBA fans believe will emerge as NBA champions in 2015 as well who their favorite players are:

NBA fans are pretty closely divided on who they want to the league title this year—19% say they’re pulling for the (Golden State) Warriors, 15% for the Cavaliers, 12% for the (Los Angeles) Clippers, 11% for the (Atlanta) Hawks, 5% each for the (Houston) Rockets and (Memphis) Grizzlies, and 4% for the (Washington) Wizards.

That distribution of support is reminiscent of a poll on the Republican Presidential Field.

People are similarly divided when it comes to who their favorite player in the league is—19% pick Stephen Curry to 18% for LeBron James, 14% for Kobe Bryant, 13% for Kevin Durant, 10% for Tim Duncan, 5% for Derrick Rose and 4% each for Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Paul.

There’s a political divide with Democrats pulling for the Warriors and saying Curry is their favorite player and Republicans pulling for the Cavaliers and saying James is their favorite player.

Now, the survey gets to the juicy part:

There’s no such division when it comes to who NBA fans think is the best player of all time. 77% pick Michael Jordan on that question to only 14% who think it’s LeBron James.

In fact despite his being 52 years old, 34% of NBA fans think Jordan could beat James one on one now—as in the year 2015—to just 54% who think James would win despite being in the prime of his career.

The full survey results can be seen here.


The Parting Shot 

It’s always amusing to see surveys such as this go viral online.

However, they’re not always realistic. Or are they?
A video of Jordan working out with the then-Charlotte Bobcats in 2012 showed everyone he was still in tip-top shape.
STACK.com also featured Jordan’s workout regimen with his personal strength coach Tim Grover that same year.
In that same featured article, Jordan chimed in on how he think he’d fare against LBJ and other great players if he were 15 to 20 years younger:

I wish I could turn the clock back 15 or 20 years. There would be some lessons taught (laughs). That’s the beauty of competition.

I’ll leave it up to (everyone else) to make decisions or debate who’s better—LeBron, Kobe or Michael Jordan. That’s always going to be a debate no matter how you look at it. But if you ask me, I can easily and clearly tell you (smiles).

As previously mentioned, LBJ does not really want to be compared to Jordan. He wants to be his own man. So let’s leave it at that.

ESPN (via The Chicago Sun-Times) recently presented some stats comparing MJ and LBJ after the latter’s buzzer beater against the Bulls in Game 4 of this year’s playoffs.

They’re pretty close.

As for the Public Policy Polling survey, we will never know for sure if a 52-year-old Michael Jordan can beat a 30-year-old LeBron James today.

Even if Jordan is more than two decades older, it looks like this will be a tough call.

Somebody organize a charity one-on-one game between the two so we’ll find out.

As in right now.


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