6 foot 9 inches, 215 pounds, and the best player in the league. Magic Johnson in the 1987 was on top of the World. He had just won his first MVP and won his 4th championship. Next year, he would go on to win another championship and MVP. In the end, he had 5 Championships and 3 MVP's. Lebron James is 6 foot 8 inches, 240 pounds, and the best player in the league. He has won 4 MVP's and is going for his 5th. Lebron and Heat have won 2 straight Championships and are going for the three-peat.
Just by looking at Lebron's current situation and Magic's situation, I already see similarities. Both players are 6 foot 8 inches, same will-to-win, and they play the same way. I've always wanted to discover Magic's and Lebron's similarities, and I thought the best way to start is their personality.
Personality: Two or three years ago, this would definitely not be a similarity. Lebron was so frustrated not having and Championship, and had an entire city hating him for "The Decision." Now, he has two Championships (Possibly three in 3 months), 4 MVP's, and looks the happiest he has ever been in his life. Magic had the luck of the draw to be drafted by the Lakers and play along side great players right from his rookie year. Magic won the NBA Championship in 1980, 82, 85, 87, and 88. Through all those years, with the exception of feuding with a coach and 1984, Magic was always smiling. Their first instincts might be different, but right now, Lebron is the happiest man in the world.
Passing: Both players play basketball the right way. They can score, but they're always looking for teammates. Magic Johnson averaged 11.2 APG for his career, while Lebron averages 6.9 APG. Lebron has always said he just can't play the way Kobe and Jordan played. It's just not his first instinct. Even in his 61 point game, Lebron ha 5 assists! Magic was the same way. He could not shoot an open 15 footer, if his teammate was wide open under the basket. If you've never seen Magic or Lebron pass, then you're missing out on some beautiful basketball.
Lebron James passing Highlights: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sx5lTh3oWLQ
Magic Johnson passing highlights: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=v4Dm0lZTqCc
Rebounding: When two players are both the same height and almost the same weight, they should have close rebounding stats. Lebron can play small, but has played power forward for the Heat. Playing power forward helps Lebron grab rebounds, and he averaged 8 rebounds per game last year. Magic was rare. Big point guards find their way to rebounds, but it's still rare to see Magic grab 7 rebounds per game. Overall for their career, both average 7.3 rebounds per game. They also both grab 11% of the possible rebounds in the game. They definitely can get down low and play physical.
Triple Doubles: Magic Johnson was big enough to grab rebounds, talented enough to score, and was great enough of a passer to reach 10 assists. Lebron James is bigger than Magic, more talented at scoring, and a good passer, even compared to Magic. I wouldn't be surprised to see Lebron have more triple-doubles than Magic by the end of his career. Lebron currently is nearing 50 triple doubles, and Magic had a total of 138 triple-doubles in his career. Lebron might be far behind, but he still has a lot of time to catch up.
Lebron James Triple-Double in 2013 NBA Finals Game 5:
Magic Johnson Near Triple-Double (3 Assists away) in 1980 NBA Finals Game 6:
Diversity: Magic and Lebron can play point guard, shooting guard, small forward, point forward, or center. Magic has his amazing game in 1980 (Video of Magic's near triple-double) where he started at center, but finished at point guard. Lebron is the same way. He can go out and guard power forwards, and then take the ball up the court and run the pick and roll to perfection.
Clutch: Two years ago, I wouldn't have been able to put this under the similarities category. However, Lebron, like Magic, has developed being clutch in his prime. Some might say, "Magic was always clutch." However, do you remember the 1984 NBA Finals? "Tragic" Johnson was the headline of Boston as he dribbled away a chance to win the game (1984 NBA Finals Game 4). Later in the 4th quarter, he missed two important free throws to win the game. Magic's 1984 NBA Finals is Lebron's 2011 NBA Finals. Lebron missed key shots and failed in the series. Then he came back the next year in 2012, and won the NBA Finals. This was Magic Johnson's 1985 NBA Finals. It's amazing how similar they are/were as they matured.
Lebron James 2007 ECF Game 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8Fjn1j6qdM
Magic Johnson 1987 Sky Hook: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n1-KIcoIzU
Differences: Although Magic and Lebron are a lot alike, they do have differences.
Scoring: Magic was a pass first point guard. He always looked to pass before he scored. This limited his scoring. Lebron, on the other hand, is a mix of both. This allows Lebron to flourish on the scoring aspect. Lebron currently averages 27.6 PPG for his career, and led the league in scoring once. Magic averaged 19.5 PPG, but averages 7 less shot attempts a game.
Lebron James Scoring Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcOU9UgSpT4
Magic Johnson Scoring Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPdUxUKhuwQ
Defense: Lebron James has a huge advantage here. He has been on the All-NBA Defensive First Team 5 straight years. The only stat Magic can show off is he led the league in steals two years in a row. However, steals barely demonstrates great defense.
Three point shooting: Lebron used by like Magic from the three point line, and average 30% from the three. However, Lebron has greatly improved his shooting and has averaged 39% from three the past three seasons. Magic was never a great shooter, and averaged 30% from three point land.
Power: I struggled to decide whether or not to put this in the similarities or the differences. Lebron is powerful in he pushes defenders out of his way to get the basket. Magic was powerful as he posted up on smaller guards in the post. In a way, power isn't their difference, but how they demonstrate power.
Conclusion: Lebron was just as good as Magic in every similarity category (Except, possibly passing). He is also better than Magic in every difference between them. The only two advantages I can find for Magic are passing and championships. However, with the way Lebron is playing, I wouldn't be surprised to see Lebron surpass Magic AND Jordan for Championships in the next 10 years.
Winner: Lebron James