This past Saturday, after the Raptors tied the game with less than ten seconds left, LeBron ripped the Raptors' hearts out with another iconic buzzer-beating shot. With that shot, LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers took a three to zero series lead.

The myth of Jordan

Before this even happened, I was a heavy advocate for LeBron being the greatest basketball player of all-time. On top of LeBron amassing enormous accomplishments, basketball writers and fans have dismissed many of Jordan's shortcomings.

Whenever someone suggests LeBron is the better player than Jordan, people immediately make a case that he's a perfect six for six in the NBA finals.

They seem to be making the case that if LeBron had only been to three NBA finals, and won those three, that his legacy would stand up to Jordan's more. They're essentially saying it's better to lose early in the playoffs than it is in the NBA finals. Maybe I'm wrong, but that seems backwards and just plain silly to me.

This narrative, however, has helped those who make the six for six argument because of what Jordan has done before the NBA finals throughout his career. For starters, Michael Jordan has three first-round exits, compared to LeBron's zero. People also bemoan LeBron's path to his 8 NBA finals appearances. They claim that Jordan's path was way more difficult. They cite teams such as Bird and the Celtics, the bad boy Pistons, and Dr. J's Sixers. Meanwhile, Jordan never beat Bird's Celtics to advance in the playoffs.

The year he finally beat the Pistons, they were old and had 48 regular season wins, the same amount of wins as this year's Indiana Pacers. Dr. J didn't even play more than two or three years into Jordan's career. Other teams, such as Reggie's Pacers or Ewing's Knicks, were teams with just one star. Both teams only had one all-star, while teams like the current Celtics, Raptors, and Sixers have multiple all-stars.

As it pertains to the NBA finals, I would say almost every team LeBron has faced is better than any team that Jordan faced in the NBA finals. The Mavericks would be the one team that I would say wasn't better than every team that Jordan faced in the NBA finals, but they were about as good as some of them. While we're on that topic, I'm one hundred percent willing to admit that, that is one of the worst blemishes on an all-world player's resume. LeBron shrunk in the big moment and failed to bring home a championship against a lesser team. Since then, however, LeBron has had an absurd run of seven straight NBA finals appearances and has put up unprecedented numbers to go along with it.

To start with Jordan's NBA finals opponents, the not so 'show time' Lakers had already lost Kareem, and James Worthy was hurt. Next was Clyde Drexler's Trailblazers with a supporting cast of Kevin Duckworth and Danny Ainge's nine and a half points per game. After that, it was the Phoenix Suns, who had all-time great Charles Barkley, but after that their next player was Richard Dumas, a solid but not great player.

After that NBA finals victory, Jordan retired for one and a half years before returning. Three years after retiring, he found himself in the NBA finals again, against Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and the Seattle Supersonics. The rest of their roster consisted of players like Frank Brickowski and Sam Perkins. This was a solid Supersonics team, but still only had one Hall of Fame player. The next two NBA finals, and Jordan's last two, were against the Utah Jazz. The Jazz were the only team Jordan faced in the NBA finals that had two hall of fame players on the active roster during the NBA finals. Those two players were John Stockton and Karl Malone. Stockton was 34 in the first one and 35 in the second. Malone was 33 in the first and 34 in the second. While they were still pretty great players, it's safe to say they were diminished and no longer in their prime. Aside from those two, the primary defender on Jordan that series was Jeff Hornacek, who wasnot exactly known to be a great defensive stopper.

LeBron's playoff resume

As for LeBron's NBA finals opponents, he started with the dynasty of the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are on a current streak of 21 straight seasons making it to the playoffs. The first time LeBron lost to them, when he was 22, they had three hall of fame players in their prime. It was a miracle that LeBron was there to begin with. He managed to singly take down a Pistons team, which reached six straight conference finals, in order to get there. He did get swept, but I don't believe that you can expect a 22 year old player to compete with three Hall of Famers when his starting lineup included Daniel Gibson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Sasha Pavlovic.

LeBron's next final appearance was against the Mavericks. As I mentioned, it was an incredibly large blemish on his record. He absolutely should have won, but Dirk Nowitzki is still an all-time great and they still had great players like Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and Shawn Marion. Also, as I mentioned, LeBron has more than redeemed himself.

His next NBA finals, and his first victory, was against the Oklahoma City Thunder. His opponents were rather young, and inexperienced, however, they were still extraordinarily talented. They had stars Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and another very good player in Serge Ibaka. He managed to beat them decisively in five games, and earned finals MVP.

The next year he faced the same Spurs team that bested him in his first appearance. This roster was a bit seasoned, but still had a very impressive, 62 win season. LeBron again won finals MVP after an incredible final series where he would have very strong numbers in the clutch, and would clinch the series with a mid-range jump shot to put the Spurs away.

After that, he reached the NBA finals again, and faced off against the Spurs. However, this time, his team had aged, and didn't survive the strain of a full season. Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, Dwayne Wade, and others, all dealt with injuries and were clearly fatigued and it showed as the Heat were swept, despite LeBron's 28.2 points per game and his eight rebounds.

After that year, LeBron returned to Cleveland and made the NBA finals right away. They faced off against a Golden State Warriors team that would make themselves into a dynasty. At this point they had Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson who were all-stars, and were supplemented by Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut and one of the deepest benches in the NBA. LeBron lost Kevin Love in the first round of the playoffs and then lost Kyrie in game one of the NBA finals. LeBron would still post an incredible 39 13 and eight. He looked so amazing that the NBA rewarded his primary defender with MVP, for holding him to that other worldly stat line.

They would rematch in next year's NBA finals and the 73 win Warriors would jump out to a commanding three to one lead. LeBron responded with back-to-back 41 point games and then closed game seven with a triple-double and perhaps the most clutch defensive play in final's history. He would earn his third finals MVP as he ended the city of Cleveland's historically long championship drought.

For a third straight year, the former 73 win team, and new weapon Kevin Durant, would face off against LeBron again. It was pretty clear that the Warriors were far too stacked and not even LeBron averaging a triple double could even propel the Cavaliers to another NBA finals win.

People make the case that LeBron isn't greater than Jordan because of these NBA finals losses. When you look at their opponents, however, it's clear that LeBron had it just as hard getting to the NBA finals, and a much more difficult time winning them.

The purely statistic driven argument

If you look at the statistical comparison over the course of their careers, both in the playoffs and in the regular season, LeBron has a much more impressive statistical resume. In terms of career totals, LeBron has already bested him in every playoff statistic. The only statistical category in which Jordan has a higher average is scoring, but he did it less efficiently as LeBron has better percentages from two and three and has a better true shooting percentage.

In terms of regular season stats, LeBron is the only player in NBA history to reach thirty thousand points, eight thousand rebounds, and eight thousand assists. Only four players have twenty-five-thousand six thousand and six-thousand and six-thousand, and Jordan isn't one of them. The only career total that LeBron hasn't passed Jordan in yet is scoring and he is more than on pace to do it.

Many people say that because LeBron didn't go to college, it helps him accumulate more stats. This is true, but it's very likely that Jordan wasn't ready for the NBA out of high-school. There was nothing forcing him to go to college. Moses Malone, who played around the same time, didn't go to college. I think that should be another argument for LeBron, not something that diminishes his stats. But, for now, let's pretend to accept that argument. If we just look at their stats through their first 1,072 games, the exact amount of games in Jordan's career. LeBron has more rebounds and assists, and shoots more efficiently. He has better 'clutch' statistics and shoots a better percentage on game winning shots.

But again, it's ridiculous to say that because LeBron is having an unprecedentedly long prime, it should be held against him in the conversation against Michael Jordan. Longevity is part of being great, and in that department, LeBron is the greatest ever because he has been the best player in the NBA for roughly 12 or 13 years and counting.

With LeBron having a clear statistical edge [VIDEO], and the unfounded notion of Jordan having an illustrious and unblemished playoff record, are what have LeBron above Jordan, for me. The reasons a lot of people don’t approach this conversation this way, is because LeBron is competing with a ghost. People are still enamored by the mythical history of Jordan. As a result, people leave out some of the facts, such as him never having to best Larry Bird, and that the Pistons weren't as strong as they were when they stood in his way. Perhaps the biggest hidden secret was when Jordan came back from playing baseball and was beaten badly in the playoffs by an up and coming Orlando Magic team. People can make the argument that he was rusty and not in basketball shape, but that didn't stop those same people from proclaiming his triumphant return when he dropped 55 in a game verses the Knicks in the previous series.

To his credit, he was an incredible player and probably the second greatest of all-time. He also paved the way and took the NBA to the next level from a publicity standpoint. But these things come to an end, and the greatness of LeBron's career has brought Jordan's reign as the greatest ever, to a close.