I don’t think there would be much of an argument if you said that the Patriots’ Tom Brady and the Bulls’ Michael Jordan are the two best championship performers in their generations. Who would you choose if you had to pick the true “GOAT”: Brady or Jordan?
Aaron Mansfield, a columnist for Complex.com has his opinion on the subject. Mansfield wrote; “I believe it’s impossible to answer because you can’t truly compare athletes who play two different games.” Mansfield goes on to make the point that; “there’s no way to create a perfectly ‘valid’ and ‘realistic’ comparison between Jordan and Brady.”
I agree that comparing them might prove to be difficult. However, why can’t we look at their championship numbers to formulate an opinion? That just might prove to be futile, but let’s give it a shot anyway. We can start with their championships, and evaluate the numbers. Brady is still playing and performing at a championship level. The book on his championship run has yet to be completed.
Michael Jordan’s six championship appearances with 6 championships won, is the Holy Grail that pushes Lebron to a near 2nd as the NBA ‘GOAT’. You can make a case for Bill Russell as the GOAT if you base it on rings alone. Russell has 11 rings, but played on a Celtic’s team stacked with talent, and Red Auerbach as his coach. The fact remains that Jordan is six for six, who else has done that?
Brady has won six championships in 9 Super Bowl appearances. Is it proper to penalize Brady for losing 3 championship games? The Vikings and Bills have made 4 Super Bowls appearances each. Neither team has won the big game, with the Bills losing four Super Bowls in a row.
Jordan has made the championship round in only 6 of 15 seasons, while Brady made it in 9 of 19. Under Brady the Patriots have 17 division titles, and played in 13 division title games. Jordan made the playoffs 12 times under Jordan, and were often first round eliminations. Jordan’s first two conference finals saw them physically mauled, manhandled, and abused in losses to the Pistons. Brady had the benefit of playing in a weaker division, and several 1st round byes as a result. Jordan’s road to make it to the conference finals was much tougher, based solely on the teams they had to face, just to get there.
Brady is the first NFL player with 6 championship rings. Jordan however, is 10th in the NBA, with the aforementioned Bill Russell being number one with his 11 rings. Like I said previously, Jordan who really only had Pippen played with a bunch of role players, while Russell had a stacked Celtic team. With that said, we’ll move onto Championship MVP Awards.
Jordan has six final’s MVP honors, while Brady has 4 MVP honors in 9 Championship appearances. In the finals Jordan was a juggernaut. His championship scoring per game average sits at an impressive 33 points per game, 6.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists,and 1.8 steals per game. Jordan also elevated his three point season percentage from 33% up to 37% in the championship rounds. Simply put Jordan always shows up in the playoffs, flu or no flu. My sincere apologies go out to the Utah Jazz fans. Cough, Cough!
Mansfield clearly makes a valid point about Brady. With the exception of his first playoff appearance in 2001, when Brady was more of a game manager, Brady has excelled in his Super Bowl appearances, even playing well in his team’s losses. However we can’t forget Deion Branch was the 2005 Super Bowl MVP, while Julian Edelmann was the MVP of Super Bowl LIII.
If you look back at both superstar’s single greatest seasons, I think we get a bit closer to making the determination of who the “GOAT” truly may be. In 2007 the Patriots had Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Troy Brown, Sammy Morris, and a very talented Patriots’ defense. That season the Patriots won games by an average of 37-17. Brady had an incredible season, throwing for 4,806 yards, with 50 TD’s and only 8 INT’s. He also had an insane passer rating of 117.2. Brady also led a team through an undefeated 16-0 regular season, with 2 wins in the playoffs, entering the Super Bowl with an unprecedented 18-0 record. The Patriots lost the championship game to Eli Manning’s Giants, who made it to the Super Bowl as a NFC wild card team.
Jordan has had way too many outstanding seasons. For many of those seasons, Scottie Pippen was his only all star caliber teammate. Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc, and Dennis Rodman made singular appearances for the Bulls, but for the most part Jordan and Pippen were regular invites as All Star reps. I agree with Mansfield that 87-88 might just be his single greatest season. Coincidentally, that would be the season that Pippen joined the Bulls also. Jordan averaged 35 points per game, 5.9 assists per game, along with 5.5 rebounds per game. Jordan won the league MVP, Defensive Player of The Year, after leading the league in steals per game. He also won the Slam Dunk Contest when Chicago hosted the All-Star game, and in case you forgot, Jordan was also the game’s MVP.
When it comes down to longevity Brady has the edge. At 41 years old Brady has led his team to 3 straight Super Bowls. Jordan was ages 38-40 when he played for the Washington Wizards. Michael played fairly well, but he was a bit long in the tooth for his age, and a long way from NBA finals or MVP Jordan. I believe Michael was also road weary from the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley like cult following he endured. Nonetheless Michael was 30 -7 in playoff series, while Brady was 30-10 in individual playoff games. It’s fair to say Jordan gets the edge when talking playoff series wins.
If you want to compare all star appearances I can honestly say Jordan takes a win. Jordan appeared in 14 of 15 All-Star games. The only year he didn’t was the 94-95 season, when Jordan returned from his baseball sabbatical, at the midpoint of the season, post All-Star game. Brady was selected 14 times in 19 seasons. Had Jordan not left to play baseball, he undoubtedly would’ve been an all star in 94-95.
If you look at career scoring, Brady is 2nd all time, behind Drew Brees. Brady can still pass him if he plays well. With 544 touchdown passes, Brady is six touchdown passes behind Brees.
Jordan is 4th in points all time with 32,292 points. Only Lebron James is close to catching him. Lebron has played more years and games than Jordan, and we can’t forget Jordan took 1.5 years off to play baseball. Dirk Nowitzki is behind James, and his NBA career is over.
If we look back at their most memorable moments I agree with Mansfield once again. I will always believe that Jordan’s game winning shot at Utah is Jordan’s best moment. I would give the nod to the game winning shot over Cleveland’s Craig Ehlo, had Jordan not played that game six in Utah with the flu. Jordan almost didn’t play that night, and thank god for Bulls’ fans that he did.
I agree with Mansfield that Brady’s memorable moment was his 28-3 comeback against the Falcons, in the 2017 Super Bowl. I’m going to give the edge to Jordan, even though Mansfield thinks otherwise. Jordan was amazing in that game six.
Who is the True GOAT/
So who is the ‘GOAT’? Brady thinks it’s Jordan. Brady once told Westwood One: “He’s at another level than me.” Brady went on to say; “As a kid Jordan amazed me with his play.” He concluded his comments by saying; “I could never see myself that way.”
Based on Jordan’s championship performances, I give the “GOAT” moniker to Jordan. Jordan never lost in the big championship moments, while Brady lost twice to Eli Manning and the less talented Giants, while he also lost to Nick Foles in 2018.
I will agree with Fox Sports Radio’s Travis Clay in all fairness. Travis stated: “If Brady would continue to play at a high level until he’s 45 years old, you can make a strong argument that he’s the greatest team sport athlete of all time.” If that were to happen Travis added; “The boring Jordan vs. Lebron debate might turn into Tom Brady vs. the athletic world.” Even though I believe Jordan edges out Brady, I will concede Travis’ point until the final chapter of Brady’s career has been written.