LeBron James: GOAT?

LeBron’s done it again. He’s made the NBA Finals for the seventh straight year. Last time LeBron wasn’t in the Finals, Sex and the City and Paranormal Activity were still things that people kind of enjoyed. An accomplishment like this hasn’t happened since Bill Russell in the ’60s.

LeBron is really good at basketball. He might be the best ever. He’s averaged an absurd 27, 7, and 7 line for his entire career. He swallowed Steph Curry and the best regular season team of all time in one of the best comebacks in sports history. He’s been so good, that people are legitimately challenging their belief of Michael Jordan being the greatest basketball player to ever live. It’s hard to say they’re wrong for wondering if LeBron is on the same level as MJ; if not better. I think a good point to make is that if the army had one human being they would choose to model a soldier’s physique after, their number one pick would be LeBron. In terms of raw athleticism, only Wilt Chamberlain was better. I’d say that’s fine, considering Wilt wrestled mountain lions for fun.

LeBron has also practically been a title contender for his entire career. With his only losing season happening in 2004 — his rookie year. After turning 20, every team LeBron has been on has won at least 50 games. Every season — at least 50 wins — for a little over a decade. WTF. As soon as LeBron left the Cavaliers in 2011, the Cavs went from 61 wins to 19. That’s an over 40 win difference. That wasn’t even peak LeBron. Pre-peak LeBron is worth over 40 wins. How many wins is peak LeBron worth? 50? 60? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Point is, LeBron is probably worth about as many wins as the entire 07 Phoenix Suns roster put together.

Scottie Pippen, long time teammate of Michael Jordan, recently said that LeBron plays more like Magic Johnson than he plays like Michael Jordan. Except, Magic never averaged more than 24 points a game. LeBron’s done that 13 times. He’s never fallen below 26.7 points after his rookie year, so why wouldn’t he play more like Michael Jordan; a perfect scorer? The answer is because we haven’t seen anybody the size of LeBron pass the way he does. That is, other than Magic Johnson. He has so much velocity on his passes that they should speed right through whoever is receiving his pass, but LeBron puts so much touch on the ball, that it ends up right where the shooter wants it. The accuracy is spot on. On Bill Simmons Podcast, I remember him saying that LeBron’s passing puts the defense at such a disadvantage because he can make these crazy cross court passes that can hit their mark in just a second or two. It’s almost as dangerous as a 3 on 1 fast break. After Bill said that, I watched for the disadvantage he was talking about. I saw it. The defense is so protective of passing lanes that LeBron can end up with an open lane to the rim. And if those passing lanes aren’t covered, he’ll pass it out for a wide open three. You know how when Steph Curry is coming across a bunch of screens you can see the defenders saying, “HEY WHERE’S STEPH GET STEPH OH NO NO HE’S SHOOTING IT! BLOCK IT!! Ah man it went in.” It’s like that when LeBron has the ball at anytime ever.

Just watch.

Oh Jesus.

LeBron’s diversity as a scorer and playmaker is why Cleveland’s offense is so potent. It’s because LeBron demands attention from every and all angles. I don’t know if Michael can quite create those same disadvantages. Though, Michael didn’t need them. He just kind of shit on whatever kind of defense you played.

Again, LeBron defeated a 73 win team. No other player has done that in NBA history because there hasn’t been another 73 win team in NBA history. His presence alone is pretty terrifying. It’s about as terrifying as my grandmother holding a chancla. No games were played when she brought that out. It’s a similar feeling for LeBron’s opponent when he takes the floor. Much of this can be attributed to his passing like I mentioned earlier, but I think more than that, it’s how smart LeBron is in all facets of the game. I think this is best shown when he plays defense. He flies across the court like a mad man. But he does it in a coordinated way. No single move that LeBron makes is without purpose, without thought behind it. This moves onto his teammates. When LeBron steps up on defense, their entire team steps up. Backdoor cuts disappear, passing lanes close up — LeBron swallows up your team.

Let me put it like this. LeBron is like a huge black hole. On defense, he eats up whatever it is the offense is trying to do. On the other end, on offense, people have to stick to LeBron like glue. Otherwise, it’s an open layup, jumper, or assist. That’s why so many teams just resort to fouling LeBron.

Let me put it like this. LeBron is like a huge black hole. On defense, he eats up whatever it is the offense is trying to do. On the other end, on offense, people have to stick to LeBron like glue. Otherwise, it’s an open layup, jumper, or assist. That’s why so many teams just resort to fouling LeBron.

LeBron has nullified an entire conference for seven years. Every year since 2011, we’ve predicted how the western conference team will deal with LeBron. We didn’t predict how the Spurs would deal with the Pacers or how the Warriors would deal with the Raptors or Hawks. We talked about how they would deal with LeBron’s team. There are only four players in NBA history that can say they did something to the same effect. Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James.

Despite how good LeBron is, I’d still say that MJ is better.

No one in NBA history dominated the NBA like Michael Jordan did. He has a career average of 30.1 points. Wilt can’t even match that — and Wilt once averaged 50 points a game in a season. Michael was also one of the five best defensive perimeter players ever. Michael was a flawless winner. And I don’t mean just the 6–0 record in the Finals. I mean, as soon as Michael was in his prime, it physically hurt him to lose. His body didn’t allow him to have a bad game when he was on the biggest stage. LeBron can’t really say the same. Ala the 2011 Finals.

Michael’s the Greatest.

My top 10 list would go like this.

1. Michael Jordan

2. LeBron James

3. Magic Johnson

4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

5. Bill Russell

6. Larry Bird

7. Tim Duncan

8. Kobe Bryant

9. Hakeem Olajuwon

10. Shaquille O’Neal

I’m curious to know your thoughts. Is LeBron better than MJ? Can he ever reach MJ’s status? Will anyone ever surpass MJ?