Sports 101 is hosted by Mark Gram and Eric Pedigo Sunday mornings 9am - 11am on Sports Radio 1450. It's a discussion-based sports talk show that spans any and all sports. Eric and Mark offer up their opinions, ideas, and observations on all of sports' most intriquing topics. Whether you love it or hate it, agree or disagree, Eric and Mark love to get your take.
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Birthplace: Springfield, Illinois High School: Quincy High School Loves: Illinois sports, St. Louis Cardinals baseball, reading, and politics
Eric Pedigo Birthplace: Chatham, Illinois High School: Glenwood High School
Eric is a Chatham native and Glenwood graduate. He and his wife Amanda live in Glenarm with their three children. Eric started hosting a sports talk radio show on the internet in 2005. In 2008, he began co-hosting Fantasy Football 101 with Adam Stark, Mark Gram, and Nicorelli. Eric can be heard every Sunday morning from 9-11am on Sports Radio 1450.
LeBron vs Jordan: The World's First Objective Comparison
by Eric Pedigo,posted Feb 28 2013 12:39AM
I love basketball. As a child, I grew up idolizing Michael Jordan. I had every MJ poster on my wall I could get my hands on. When I ran out of room on my wall, I proceeded to cover the ceiling in my bedroom with even more posters. I was born in 1980, and I’m one of those weird people that can remember being 2 years old. I actually remember watching basketball BEFORE Jordan was in the NBA. So I can remember very well watching his whole career. I’ve never stopped loving or watching basketball, and I can honestly say he is the best player to ever play the game. No one has really even come close, until now that is.
What would your opinion be of a highly touted lottery pick, drafted specifically to lead his team to greatness, who spent over half a decade in the league dazzling fans with highlight dunks and obtaining a few individual awards along the way, even leading his team deep into the postseason, but couldn’t get over that hump and win a title until he joined forces with a few supremely talented players? Would you think that player was a bust, or a failure? Do you realize those questions apply to both LeBron AND Jordan? The similarities between the two are almost endless, right down to their age when winning their first titles- Michael was 28, LeBron was 27. Granted, their playing styles are quite different, aside from their unbelievable jumping ability of course. But the course of their careers, to this point, is almost identical.
The common misconception is that Michael was able to win titles by himself, while LeBron had to “abandon” his hometown team to join forces with other superstars before he could win. The truth, of course, is that no one has ever been great enough to win a title on their own. Not Bird, not Magic, not Kobe, not Russell, not Wilt, not Kareem, not Duncan, not Shaq, not LeBron, and not MJ. No team wins titles without more than one Hall-of-Famer on the roster. Not just good players, Hall-of-Famers. Sure LeBron needed Wade and Bosh, but Michael needed Pippen, then Pippen and Rodman for the last three. Speaking of Pippen, a little known fact is that he was actually drafted by Seattle 5th overall in 1987. The Bulls traded away Olden Polynice and future picks to acquire Scottie. Can you guess who the 5th overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft was? Yep, Dwyane Wade. The only real difference is that the Bulls went out of their way to get Jordan a running mate, while LeBron had to leave to get his. But there really isn’t any difference in the surrounding talent they both needed to win.
A big part of the reason so many people refuse to embrace LeBron is undoubtedly “The Decision”. In a sports world filled with athletes who are legitimate criminals, fans have unexplainable disdain for a guy who announced his team choice on live television. What most people don’t know is that ESPN approached LeBron’s “people” with the idea for a TV special where LeBron would announce to the world which team he would be playing for. Realizing that this was likely the biggest free agent signing of all time, ESPN saw an opportunity to capitalize. When the idea got to LeBron, he agreed to do it only if all of the proceeds went to charity. That part of the story is typically omitted when “LeBron bashing” is taking place, including when it’s done by ESPN personalities. The event was seen by more than 10 million people (Take that World Series), and raised over 5 million dollars for The Boys and Girls Club. Most people saw it as LeBron trying to draw even more attention to himself, due strictly to his enormous ego. But ask yourself, has LeBron ever needed a way to draw more attention to himself than he already does? He was already one of the most talked about athletes on the planet, why would he devise a scheme to attract even more exposure? ESPN wanted the ratings and profit that his announcement would bring, LeBron found a way to give that profit to charity. What a self-centered jerk, am I right?
The problem with hating LeBron for “The Decision” is that our hatred spills over into how we view him as a player. We often let our emotions get in the way of our objectivity. We loved Jordan on and off the court. There were no attached feelings of negativity to skew how we viewed him as a player. We knew a little of his gambling habits, but it was never enough to vilify him in the public eye. Would we have viewed him differently if we were aware of all of the infidelity that eventually ended his marriage? Still though, why does any of this matter when evaluating how great a player is? Why can’t we just appreciate when we’re watching a once-in-a-generation player at the top of his game?
So the pressing issue at hand still remains: Who’s better? Jordan has 6 rings, LeBron has just 1. But forget the rings. The honest eyeball test will tell you that a matchup between the two, while both in their prime, would be incredibly close. Each has certain things they do better than the other. LeBron is bigger, stronger, faster, a better passer, and a better rebounder. Both are amazing defenders, and Jordan was a more creative and determined scorer. If they went head-to-head 10 times, it’s unlikely one would end up with the upper hand. So the ultimate winner is us as fans. We’ve been lucky enough to witness 2 men who will likely go down as the 2 greatest players of all time, all within a 30 year span. Maybe quit trying to elevate one over the other and just enjoy the show.