Anyone who is 30-40 years has likely witnessed Michael Jordan,LeBron James,and Kobe Bryant. I was lucky enough to witness Michael Jordan capture his 6th championship but at the time I was 13 years old so I did not have a grasp of his entire career and how great of a player he was early on. Kobe Bryant went on to win 5 titles but fell one short of Jordan’s 6 rings and LeBron James so far has been the best player in the league since 2008 you could argue. I’ve witnessed LeBron James his whole career and in all honesty a 4th ring will help build his case for being the GOAT but he must add a 5th NBA MVP before he retires to hold an argument over Michael Jordan as the GOAT. If LeBron James won’t catch Michael Jordan in titles he has to find other ways to round out his basketball resume a bit more. Going into next season LeBron could be a favorite for the NBA MVP award, I’m looking across the NBA and the only viable threats are Giannis Antetokoumpo,Luka Doncic, and maybe Stephen Curry. I don’t see James Harden,Kevin Durant,Anthony Davis, and Kawhi Leonard being top 3 candidates for the award next season.
When LeBron came to LA they said it was about settling his family where he planned to reside long-term. A trade for Anthony Davis as LeBron James’s running mate has put LeBron in his position where he will have the pressure to deliver at least 2 titles in a Laker uniform to convince the Laker fan base which are predominantly Kobe Bryant fans that he is just as good. I am a LeBron fan and he is my personal GOAT but I do recognize he will never be recognized as the best ever unless he ties Jordan in at least one accolade. LeBron has more All-NBA selections,more points,rebounds, and assists and has been more efficient throughout his career but that is all primarily due to playing longer. I am not a Michael Jordan hater I think he was a basketball perfectionist but if we want to look at the game of basketball from who’s the all-time winner it was Bill Russell. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has an edge on LeBron when it comes to longevity, he has more regular season MVP’s and 3 more rings than LeBron and holds one more MVP over Michael Jordan who is considered the GOAT by the masses.
Another factor will be if LeBron does indeed win multiple times on the Lakers will he be the Finals MVP for all of the titles. What if Anthony Davis wins Finals MVP within the next 3 years? That would change the way we see LeBron James because Michael Jordan was a 6-time Finals MVP and we could talk about Scottie Pippen’s impact all day on the Bulls’s dynasty but Michael Jordan was the driving force behind all 6 of the Bulls’s championships. Most argue Scottie Pippen should have won Finals MVP 1991 due to taking on the assignment of guarding Magic Johnson after a Game 1 defeat which completely change the series in favor of the Chicago Bulls. As far as LeBron goes if he ever should have split Finals MVP honors with anyone it was Kyrie Irving 2016 because the Cavaliers desperately needed a spark on the offensive end which Kyrie provided as the Cavaliers made a legendary 3-1 comeback in which Kyrie Irving hit a game clinching shot in the final minutes. Going back to LeBron a 5th MVP is possible going into next season but no one knows what his role will be next season. Will he be the Lakers’s starting point guard next season and will his averages from this season be enough to earn him the award next season?
As far as accolades go that 2013 Defensive Player of the Year award would have made LeBron’s argument over Jordan even stronger but at this point in his career I highly doubt he will look to expend the energy required through a full season to win the award at the age of 36. Top to bottom Michael Jordan was more accomplished than LeBron James and as I look at other player’s accolades such as Kobe Bryant,Larry Bird,Magic Johnson,Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,Wilt Chamberlain, and Bill Rusell who are all candidates for the GOAT crown, Michael Jordan is at the top. We could talk about LeBron’s elite court-vision,off the charts athleticism,agility,speed and god given ability from a skill-stand point but LeBron has his work cut out for him over the next few years in order to be labeled the greatest of all-time in the accolades department. Father-time is inevitable, Kobe Bryant reached a point in his career where he couldn’t overwhelm opposing defenses with his quickness and strength making his footwork ineffective when he got in the post and tried to gain separation. Michael Jordan looked slower in his last 3 runs with the Bulls and we saw how when he returned as a Wizard he was unable to get them to the playoffs for those 2 seasons.
To conclude I don’t think LeBron will ever be recognized as the GOAT unless he wins 6 rings before he retires which is possible but how much longer can LeBron’s body holdup? Does he want to win another MVP trophy? Only LeBron knows what he will have to do to be looked at as the GOAT, LeBron has always seen Jordan as his idol so maybe he’ll need to be more like Jordan the rest of the way in order to get to 6 titles. I think LeBron needs to get off the ball and focus on becoming an off the ball shooter but that will only happen if the Lakers bring in a point-guard like Chris Paul who LeBron will more than willingly sacrifice control of the ball for. With the rise of Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson upon us and the return of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant next season it will only become harder for LeBron to hoist one last MVP trophy but if you are LeBron what better team to win a league MVP on then the Los Angeles Lakers? Winning ultimately matters but LeBron will have to create more memorable moments to his legacy the same way Michael Jordan did and that will be what will strengthen his case as the GOAT. LeBron needs some 50 point games in the playoffs over the next few years,2-3 more titles, hoist at least one MVP trophy as a Laker, and will need to surpass Kareem in scoring to become the GOAT.