They say that great players see the game in slow motion, but the greatest players share that super power with everyone else. When Tom Brady threw up his hail mary attempt at the end of this year’s Super Bowl, time seemed to stand still as the ball floated through the air. When Ali rope a doped George Foreman at the Rumble in the Jungle, you could see the punch coming and then connecting, with all the detail and drama of if the punch were thrown in a movie. That’s the kind of effect LeBron had last night, as he wound his way up court and around the Toronto Raptors, and he seemed to hang in the air, a master of time and space, somehow measuring just the right amount of touch needed to kiss the ball off the glass and into the hoop. It was an extraordinary moment and an equally extraordinary shot, his lower body flying in one direction, his upper body hanging back, chest square to the basket with perfect form.

“How do you even decide to shoot that shot?” Cavs guard Kyle Korver said postgame. “How do you even decide?”

Last night and this morning, there has been a rush to fire out takes about Jordan vs. LeBron. I’ve had upwards of 10 text conversations with friends about the same thing. It’s a useless debate, and if anything, the argument alone proves LeBron’s worth. He and Jordan are in a class of their own, that much is inarguable. But they were different players playing in different times, and the game of basketball has changed so much in the 20 years since Jordan retired that it’s hard to imagine him playing now or LeBron playing then. How can you possibly compare their games? And besides, we have a tendency to glorify the present and reduce the past. We all want to experience the greatest ever, to live through hyperbole. Perspective is the enemy of that desire. Last year, the Washington Post ran a column with the headline “America really is more divided than ever.” Apparently even the Post forgot about the Civil War.

I’m not going to try to compare their careers. That’s a fool’s errand for anyone, but especially for me, because I never experienced Jordan in the same way that I’ve grown up with LeBron night in and night out. I still remember the day he was drafted and the first time I saw him live, at the 2004 Rising Stars challenge at Staples Center. There’s no way to replicate living through something, and no matter how much NBA TV you watch, you’ll almost never find a game on air in which Jordan lost.

What I can do is write about the experience of LeBron James. That’s what I know, and my, oh my, is it something. If you were to show an alien a basketball game without explaining the rules and ask them to point out the best player, they wouldn’t hesitate to answer LeBron. He looks different, moves different. He is the strongest and the fastest and the lightest on his feet. Everything feels too small for him, even though there are always players taller than he is. He can run from one end of the court to the other in what seems like four strides. I saw him once, from afar, at the Rams’ first game back in Los Angeles, and he seemed to have the same effect in life.  There’s a gravity to him.

(Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

The current iteration of LeBron may not be the best, but it is my favorite. He knows he’s the best player on the planet now, that there isn’t a thing on the court that he can’t do. When the Mavericks beat LeBron’s first Heat team in the Finals, they did so by forcing LeBron to shoot jumpers, and he couldn’t make them. Now he does it well. That’s one of the many things that have been amazing about LeBron over the years, is that as good as he was, he would always add a new wrinkle to his game every offseason, a new shot, a new post move. He was like Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, slowly collecting infinity stones until he controlled, time, space, mind…who knows what else? Now, we’re watching a player who has mastered every aspect of basketball, and when I write this same column a year from now, he’ll almost certainly have found a way to perfect the already perfect.

The Avengers is a fitting comparison for LeBron, actually. Seeing him play is a lot like those blockbuster super hero movies. Heroes are vanishing left and right. The villain is unstoppable and growing stronger. Still, there’s no doubt how it will end. You’re just there to see how they manage to pull it off. That’s what LeBron has done to basketball. Did we really doubt, just a week ago, that LeBron would even make it past the first round of the playoffs? Shouldn’t we know better by now?

Perhaps we do, but the stunts he pulls are getting more and more ludicrous. He’s playing on a team with little help, having to do it all, and 15 years of basketball and 33 years of life are yet to show any signs of hampering him. And he’s making it look easy. Last night, I was playing phone tag with my dad, a huge Michael Jordan fan, trying to get his reaction to the shot. Finally, I got a text from him.

“Whenever you asked me what it was like to watch MJ,” he said, “it was like this.”