Michael Jordan has a max bench press of 300lbs and 250lb LeBron James reportedly can bench press significantly less than that.
A major point of contention on the GOAT debate between Michael Jordan and LeBron James is the latter’s hypothetical ability to adapt to playing in the ‘harsh’ 80s and 90s. While there were several rules that allowed hand-checking and crowding underneath the rim to stop players from driving in, James would have thrived.
A rookie Michael Jordan who was no more 200lbs averaged 28+ points per game on mid-range shots and drives to the rim. Dropping a full-fledged 6’9, 250lbs LeBron James in that era would have resulted in a near tyrannical reign over the NBA from ‘The King’. Like Lou Williams said, drop him in the 70s and he wins 10+ championships, no problem.
Coming back to the strength aspect of it, LeBron, on paper, should be stronger than Michael Jordan. That’s what the eye test would have you believe. However, according to their physical tests that are scarcely available online, this might not be the case.
LeBron James may have a lower bench press max than Michael Jordan.
LeBron James as a high schooler looked like he was more than just NBA ready. Depending on his age and the toll he would be taking on his body going into a new season, he would adjust his workouts and his diets. While his average weight is usually around 250lbs, he’s definitely had seasons where he’s been close to 265lbs and others where he slimmed down (such as this 2022-23 season).
Michael Jordan on the other hand, had a different journey when it came to acquiring his strength. After repeated encounters with the likes of Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer, MJ employed the help of Tim Grover to put on size so as to dish out his own brand of punishment. They would put on 5lbs of muscles and eventually get him to around 215-220lbs prior to the 1990-91 season.
During MJ’s training, it is reported that he had a max bench press of 300+ lbs. However, when we come to LeBron James, it is said that he can bench 225lbs for over 12 reps. While there is nearly a 100lb difference here, it should be noted that doing 15 reps of 225 would mean that your PR would be considerable higher than that.
There has been no concrete reporting on how much James cam bench on his PR but going by these raw numbers, looks like ‘the ghost from Chicago’ has ‘the kid from Akron’ beat.