Let’s face it; the NBA has been going down hill since Michael Jordan left the Bulls. As excited as a lot of people were when he returned to the NBA as a decrepit old man with the Wizards, it just wasn’t the same. The saddest part about that was he thought he could do some good and his team was honestly better without him. He ruined the possible great career of Kwame Brown and set the team back two years once he retired for good. Also, his streak of double digit scoring games came to an end.

While Jordan was aging in the NBA, everybody was looking for the man to replace him. First was Penny Hardaway who seemed to be more of a Scottie Pippen. Penny hasn’t averaged 20ppg since Shaq bolted for L.A. and by the time he was supposed to reach his peak, he lost the majority of his athleticism and was constantly injured.

My personal favorite of the “NEXT MJ” group is Grant Hill. Grant Hill was a fantastic shooter who’s rebound and assist statistics were always better than Jordan’s but never out scored him. And like a lot of people on this list, he has been injury ridden for quite awhile. Hill has quite possibly the most famous ankle in the NBA. Hill’s major problem thought is that he only has 15 playoff win’s and hasn’t been close to winning a championship.

Then there’s Kobe Bryant. Kobe has already had a fantastic career and has won three NBA Championships. He has had more 50 point games than I can count, led the league in scoring, and can dunk just as good as Jordan. Plus, both are know for being a little bit of ball hogs, although Bryant is famous for it. Sounds pretty close right? Well, something that Jordan would not do is force the most dominant center ever to leave and cause Phil Jackson to have a breakdown. Bryant needs to be more consistent and a better shooter to prove he is worthy. He also needs to be better at utilizing the talent around him.

Other’s worth mentioning are: Tracy McGrady, Jerry Stackhouse, and Vince Carter have all drawn comparisons to MJ.

LJ

There is also talk about Lebron James. But Lebron is slightly more unique. Lebron is the only person to be listed who comes close in averaging the same steals and Jordan. He also has a higher point per game average than every player on the list, even Bryant, but is probably the last person on this list to be considered a ball hog because he also leads this list in assists (including Jordan). Statistically speaking, he is easily the closest to a triple double average then any player who draws the comparisons on is MJ himself.

Each year the Cleveland Cavs have improved and push deeper into the playoffs. This year is no exception since they have yet to lose a game. The only thing he lacks is the championship, but he is only 22 years old and Jordan didn’t win his first until he was 28.

So why does the NBA need Lebron so bad? Lebron brings in revenue. Everybody wants to watch the Cavs play. Which hasn’t been said since Mark Price was nailing 3’s and Brad Daughtery was pulling down rebounds. I haven’t seen so many kid’s in #23 jerseys since 1997. It seems that the NBA is starting to get a fan base again. The NBA has always been okay, but it seems like it has lacked some truly great players for the past decade. Sure Shaq is going to go to the hall of fame, there isn’t a center out there to challenge him And Dirk, Nash, Kidd, McGrady, Yao, and others are great, but when it comes down to it, would the NBA world be devastated if Dirk Nowitzki, this years MVP, had a career ending knee injury during the off-season? With the exception of Mark Cuban and Mavericks fans, probably not. Like most players, Dirk is replaceable. But if Lebron James had the same thing happen, it would kill the NBA. There is only one Lebron.

– Colin Hansen (gobucki@gmail.com)

www.oceakin.com

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