Lebron James, The GOAT?
We are all Witnesses. After the greatest basketball player in the world finally won an NBA Championship last season, many wondered what was next for Lebron James. Already a three time NBA MVP and perennial All Star, it seems as if King James has received every accolade we could give him. But there is one title that Lebron has yet to claim, Greatest of All Time. Now, when the topic of the GOAT comes up, it is quickly followed by the name Michael Jordan. Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, the logo man himself Jerry West, often are brought into the argument as well, but all usually fall to Jordan. Now the discussion gets interesting. Not only has Lebron easily put his name into the mix, he may be at the top of the list.
Lebron James is in the midst of one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. Forget the fact that he is averaging 27 PPG to go along with 8 rebounds and 7 assists, it’s his efficiency that’s eye opening. During this recent stretch in which Lebron James has set an NBA record, King James recorded 6 straight games of 30+ points while shooting over 60 percent from the field. These aren’t all layups and dunks either. Lebron is shooting three’s and jumpers all throughout this stretch. He has simply been in a different stratosphere when it comes to his performance lately. With Jordan turning 50 years old this year, the debate has never been more popular. No one would argue that Lebron James is physically the most gifted athlete to ever play basketball. At 6’8” and 250lbs of muscle, the ability to run like the wind and jump through the roof, he is unlike anything ever seen before in the NBA. Not to mention, much like Magic Johnson, Lebron can play all 5 positions on the court at an elite level. But does that make him the GOAT?
The one argument that has always elevated MJ over LBJ has been the intangibles. The will/desire to win. The clutch gene. All those would have been applicable up until last season. Lebron has gotten over the hump. He performed in the clutch and won his title and MVP. In fact, when you look at Jordan’s career at the same point Lebron is at right now, it’s pretty similar. Both players have won 3 MVP’s. Both players have been to 3 NBA Finals. Jordan of course never lost any, Lebron is 1 for 3. Jordan retired and then came back and won 3 more titles. Lebron is not taking any time off, and his team is favored to win the NBA Finals this year and most likely for the next few seasons. Will he win 5 more titles to tie Jordan? We don’t know.
That’s the big thing for me. We just don’t know. The NBA is incredibly competitive right now. There is no way to predict exactly how many more titles Lebron will win. Is it safe to assume he will another one over the course if his career? Sure you can say that but you just don’t know. What we do know is the impact Michael Jordan has had on the game of basketball. From the marketing to the endorsements to the global branding of the NBA, nobody has had more of an impact than His Airness. Without MJ, there would be no Lebron. Few athletes in sports transcend their games. Babe Ruth and his impact on baseball, Wilt Chamberlain and the way he literally changed the NBA rulebook, and Michael Jordan, who set the bar for everyone after him. Lebron is not there yet.
Could Lebron James go on and become the greatest basketball player of all time? Yes, he can. However, to make the argument today, to me, is just not fair. We have to see where Lebron’s career goes. It is certainly a joy to watch him grow as a player. Without a doubt he is currently the best basketball player on the planet. I stress the word currently. Let’s wait and see what Lebron blossoms into for the rest of his career. Until then, we are all witnesses.