I started watching basketball because of Michael Jordan I will admit that. I latched on to 3 Michael Jordan VCR tapes at the age of 8 years old and that is when my
love for the game of basketball began. Now that I’m 31 years old I look back on Michael Jordan’s career and realize he had everything in his favor during the 1990’s, Jerry Krause put the right pieces around him and Michael Jordan played with a plethora of great players from Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman to possible the best overseas talent the NBA had ever seen in Toni Kukoc and borderline all-stars like Horace Grant,Ron Harper,and BJ Armstrong. To top it off Tex Winters and Phil Jackson who had Michael Jordan buy in to the triangle offense which was crucial to his success in the 1990’s. When I look back and watch Michael Jordan now he was a great scorer and finisher and was very good at it but now that I look at LeBron James’s career I just can’t say Michael Jordan is better any longer.
When I look at LeBron James I look at a player who came into the NBA straight of high-school with pressure that no athlete in the history of sports has faced. LeBron James dominated in high-school and was the best high-school prospect we had ever seen, the problem was he was drafted onto a team which did little but nothing for him. He played 7 seasons on the Cleveland Cavaliers and carried them to the NBA Finals at the age of 22 by his 4th season in the NBA which at the time was absolutely amazing considering the Cleveland Cavaliers low-balled Carlos Boozer who was supposed to be LeBron James’s sidekick in Cleveland and let the Utah Jazz steal him away and paired him with all-star guard Deron Williams to make for a potent duo in the Western Conference for years. The Cavaliers chose going after injury prone Larry Hughes over Michael Redd who would have been the perfect complimentary piece to LeBron James being that he was a lights out scorer at the shooting guard position with unlimited range from the 3-point line which would have fit in perfectly with LeBron James’s skillset as a drive and kick player. They forewent trading for all-star power-forward Amare Stoudemire just because they believed in JJ Hickson’s potential, how did that ever turn out? So how could we possible blame LeBron James for leaving the Cavaliers? The Cavaliers never put him a team around him to win a title until LeBron James left and they were able to obtain a high draft pick which resulted in Kyrie Irving which was the type of star LeBron James wanted on the Cavaliers in his first stint in Cleveland.
LeBron James has never played in an organized offense yet he has been able to win 3 championships and go the NBA Finals 8 straight times. So many critics want to say he played in a weak conference well every team he went up against was a professional team, he was not going up against NCAA teams through his runs and so what if he lost 5 out of the 8 times he got there? How many teams make it to the NBA Finals? Only two I believe and if you want to critique the man for his loss to the Dallas Mavericks 2011 why don’t we take into account that that same Dallas team took down Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant quicker than they took out LeBron James that season. The man had a mental breakdown in the NBA Finals but so what it’s not like Michael Jordan never failed. Jordan did play much more than just 6 season in his career and was getting eliminated in the first round constantly, LeBron James has never been eliminated in the first round. Like the saying goes, “The tree that bares fruit will be stoned”and that is LeBron James. No professional athlete gets more stones thrown at him than LeBron James, Skip Bayless,Rob Parker,Jason Whitlock, and YouTubers all around the world make a name for themselves through LeBron James’s name. They hate the man so much yet 80 to 90 percent of their content is on LeBron James, doesn’t that say something?
I never seen anyone like LeBron James, the freakish athleticism,elite court-vision,surreal basketball IQ, the ability to rebound and push the ball up the floor like a mack-truck and finish at the rim with rim-rattling dunks is amazing. The man is a 6-8 250-260 pound specimen who can do absolutely everything on the basketball court, he can take you off the dribble,he can take you in the post, he can anchor an entire offense and effect the game on both sides of the floor at all times. And the astonishing fact is the coach on the floor so if the coach decides he quits have no worries LeBron James can still lead the team to victory. The man is 6-0 in Game 7’s in the NBA Playoffs and at the age of 35 has at least another 2 seasons playing at an elite level before he takes a significant drop off where his point average drops to the low 20’s and that is just a worst case scenario. LeBron at the age of 35 and in his 17th season is in the running for MVP and has managed to average close to 26 ppg and has lead the league in assists this season averaging just over 10 apg. LeBron for the first time in his career has taken on a different role where he has accepted Anthony Davis as a player who is right at his level. LeBron James never took a step back for Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving, for Dwyane Wade he did his first season in Miami which was ultimately the reason their were chemistry issues between the 2 in the 2011 NBA Finals.
Assuming the season resumes by late July LeBron James will have an opportunity to capture his 4th championship. Most believe this is LeBron’s last opportunity to capture one last championship but I think he could shoot for the 3-peat assuming Anthony Davis remains in LA for an extra 2-3 seasons. Anthony Davis is the perfect complimentary piece to LeBron James as he can guard every position on the court and is a scorer who could allow LeBron James to focus on taking on a more Magic Johnson like role where LeBron can play like a point-guard much more than what he has done for most of his career which is shoulder a whole entire offense and have to be absolutely everything for his team in order to win. Most won’t give LeBron James the GOAT crown unless he reaches 6 championships like Michael Jordan did but even if he does not win 6 rings I don’t see how he is not crowned the GOAT if he becomes the all-time leading scorer in NBA history and captures at least one more championship. The man is already the all-time leading scorer in points in the playoffs and is already statistically ahead of Michael Jordan in just about every category. The haters will say well he has played more years than Michael Jordan, well is it his fault he has never decided to take a break from the game due to mental fatigue like Michael Jordan did? Is it his fault Michael Jordan decided to retire 1998 because the Bulls front office decided they were not going to extend Phil Jackson’s contract? If Michael Jordan was so big and bad why didn’t he just tell the Bulls front office hire any coach you want and bring back my guys on 1-year deals and let’s shoot for a 4th consecutive title?
To conclude rings are a team accomplishment and several players have 6 or more rings in NBA history, when we talk about pound for pound basketball player no one comes close to LeBron James. Only one player comes close to being as a complete a basketball player as LeBron James has been and that was Michael Jordan’s sidekick Scottie Pippen who could do absolutely everything on the basketball court and combined a all-around skill-set with an insane wingspan and a 6-8 frame who could jump out of the gym as well. Only difference between Pippen and LeBron is Pippen played in the triangle offense where he sacrificed shots for the betterment of the team and allowed for Jordan to be the closer and primary scorer. What makes LeBron James the greatest of all-time for me is he has had to be Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan his whole career, no player has ever shouldered the load LeBron James has in NBA history and when he calls it quits even Michael Jordan fans will have to sit back and tell themselves, Michael might have had a a legacy with less blemishes but LeBron James is the best to ever do it. Till next time.