It's that time of the year again when the latest superstar, a la LeBron James, is compared to Michael Jordan.
It's so ridiculous to me because before James can be compared to Jordan, he has to prove he's better than players such Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Bill Russell and Tim Duncan.
I've always thought that just hopscotching over legends such as Magic or Kareem Abdul Jabbar or Kevin McHale is an injustice to all these great players. I'm not saying you can't compare James to Jordan, but the comparisons shouldn't start and end there.
The comparison of LeBron's game to Magic Johnson, who won 5 rings, seems more appropriate since their games are more similar.
The yearly practice of comparing a promising superstar to Jordan is often premature. Remember Grant Hill, Kobe Bryant and Harold "Baby Jordan" Miner, who was spectacular at dunking?
The comparisons are both fun and flattering, but unrealistic.
If Jordan played in today's game without a forearm in his back and no hand-checking, MJ would average 35 to 40 points per game as opposed to his 30.1 career average.
Let's not forget James is chasing another terrific current player in Tim Duncan, who has four rings.
If the San Antonio Spurs hadn't given away Game 6 last year in the NBA Finals, I probably wouldn't be writing this column right now, and Duncan would have 5 rings. And LeBron James and his cohorts would have been getting toasted all year because they couldn't win a second championship.
But things went LeBron's way, and Duncan is only two rings ahead right now.
The Miami Heat aren't happy the Spurs are getting a lot of love, and the spreading perception is San Antonio blew it last year and Miami backed into its championship.
The usually reserved Tim Duncan, speaking out how they blew it and vowing to get the job done this year, is somewhat surprising as the series gets underway.
Did the Utah Jazz's Karl Malone or John Stockton say anything similar when they met the Bulls in the 1998 Finals after losing the series in 1997? I don't think so.
If the Jordan-led Bulls played the Heat, it's simple: the Bulls win the slugfest 4-3.
Horace Grant said the other day it would be no contest, but I disagree. Let's not pretend the Bulls didn't play in several difficult series during their championship run, but the common denominator was always Jordan.
The real match up to watch would have been between Dwyane Wade and Scottie Pippen. But remember that the seemingly forgotten Ron Harper, a great pickup by Jerry Krause, played in the first 3-peat, so perhaps the matchup with Wade would have been with Harper.
The comparisons are fun, but the Bulls would beat the Heat because of Jordan, who still is the toughest competitor around.
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• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.