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Who wins the four biggest player-comparison arguments in sport?

WHEN it comes to sport, few topics generate heated discussions quite like a player comparison.

We have selected five of the biggest ‘who would you rather’ conundrums, poured over the facts and presented our reasoning as to why our athlete comes out on top.

If we can stop a single argument on the ‘who is better’ debate, we have done our jobs.

LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan

When the discussion on who the greatest basketball player of all-time comes up, the man that everyone goes with is Michael Jordan. However, the man they call the King is putting up a fantastic argument to dethrone the great MJ.

LeBron James is without question the best player to enter the NBA since Jordan’s retirement.

James has a magnificent mix of athleticism, height, power and an insatiable thirst to become the greatest of all-time.

LeBron’s record is immense; he has two NBA championships, two finals MVPs, four season MVP awards, a scoring title and has featured in 11 All-NBA teams. Those records are enough to eclipse almost every player in the game.

Anyone that is, but Michael Jordan.

MJ has been the season MVP five times, scoring leader for the league an incredible 11 times, he has been selected in All-NBA teams 11 times, has been the steals leader in the league three times and has been awarded the NBA defensive player of the year once.

Oh, and six rings coupled with six finals MVPs makes for pretty good reading too.

LeBron James is without question in the conversation when we talk about the greatest players of all-time, but when it comes to the absolute best in the history of the game, no one comes close to Jordan.

Verdict: Michael Jordan

Gary Ablett vs. Gary Ablett junior

One is known as God, the other as the little master.

Objectively, the two Abletts are without question among the all-time greatest players in the game’s history, but who stands supreme in the battle for family bragging rights?

Both men were considered unfulfilled talents at the beginning of their careers, but as their campaigns at the highest level progressed, so did the on-field fortunes.

Ablett senior was an effortless footballer – he had the ability on the field that few could match, with an uncanny goal sense and a hardened edge that made him an incredibly daunting opponent.

Ablett junior, while possessing his father’s talent, developed a hard-working mentality which saw him amass an enormous amount of statistics through the midfield as well as providing magic up forward.

Ablett junior throughout his career has been able to achieve two things his father never could – individual and team success – winning two Brownlow medals and two premierships.

One thing senior has over junior is a Norm Smith medal, but given he won it in the 1989 Grand Final that the Cats lost, the award has an intrinsic bittersweet memory.

Unfortunately we were tasked with splitting the father/son duo, and we have settled on junior – it is hard to argue with his dual premiership and Brownlow medal trophy case, and while his father had unlimited talent, he never reached individualistic heights of his son.

Verdict: Gary Ablett junior

Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning

When it comes to discussing American football, two men are at the front and centre of every debate as to which Quarterback has the right to be known as the greatest of all-time.

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have developed and intense rivalry on the field, having met numerous times across their long and illustrious careers.

The two have played each other 16 times, with Brady winning 11 of those matches against Manning.

Manning has been league MVP an astonishing six times, while Brady has held that mantle just twice.

When looked at purely by the amount of team success he has had, Tom Brady’s resume sits well above Manning’s, but that may be because he has not had the quality of personnel around him.

Manning’s pure numbers put him at the top of just about every Quarterback statistic there is, and while he may only have one Superbowl ring from three attempts, he is the superior QB.

Verdict: Peyton Manning

Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi

Whenever the discussion arises on who the greatest player is in football, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are forever linked.

They are the two biggest stars in football that play for the most recognisable clubs in the world; they have won just about every award in the game (other than the World Cup) and clearly stand head and shoulders above all players in their era.

Messi possesses incredible balance, has unprecedented ball control and can score goals that defy logic.

The Argentinian is one of the greatest exponents of the free kick too, with his ability to find the back of the net from just about any spot unprecedented.

Ronaldo is the consummate athlete. His burst of speed and supreme skills makes him one of the greatest players to ever take to the pitch.

His ability to find the back of the net with regularity has seen him average over a goal a game in La Liga – the greatest scoring ratio in the history of the league.

Both men would sit comfortably atop the list of the greatest footballers of all-time, but the edge goes to Messi; whose natural talent and team-first mentality places him slightly above the sometimes selfish Ronaldo.

Verdict: Lionel Messi

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