So, the Greatest Of All Time debate is about to come to an end… Just kidding. We all know that’s not going to happen even with the FACTS.
The top 3 players in this category are easily known as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. Two guys with two very similar games and mindsets and another whose style of play we’ve never seen before.
As a Chicagoan, many would assume I’m going to say Michael Jordan. I mean I should say Michael Jordan. But I won’t say Michael Jordan (I just said it three times in this sentence).
But all jokes aside, MJ is my close second. Sorry, Chicago but times have changed and players are getting better while playing against tougher competition. They’re also faster AND stronger. Kobe is in my top 5 but Kobe is a spitting image of MJ. He may have elevated his game to the next level and played in two different generations (kind of) but you can’t take away what MJ did. Everybody wanted to “Be Like Mike,’ even Kobe. That’s why their games are so similar. Kobe was a student to MJ’s game along with everyone else. But LeBron James is a different animal. I can get into all the statistics on Jordan and Kobe and talk about all the awards they’ve won and championships but if we’re talking about the best player ever in terms of skill and efficiency, I am hands down taking LeBron James. Why? Because FACTS ONLY.
Here are the facts: First and foremost, if you don’t think LeBron James is the GOAT just yet you will be convinced after reading this.
Let’s begin with the fact that he came into the league and averaged 21 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists leading to his Rookie of the Year Award. He was already in topics of discussion of being among the greats before he even started! It took him just three years to make it the NBA playoffs, in which he did with a shitty team. He played with Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Eric Snow, the list goes on of names that nobody remembers but the fact that he was able to make it to the eastern conference semifinals at 21 years old says a lot about his dominance. He even had a triple double in the series against the Pistons… let me reiterate… as a 21-year-old!
In his 14 years in the league, he has made it to 12 straight playoffs, half of which he basically did on his own.
Some will argue that LeBron James played against weak talent and that the era he plays in now is soft. Let’s take a look at his fourth year in the league, when he put up an average of 27 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists (another dominate year). He made another playoff appearance and made it to the NBA Finals where he would eventually get swept by the Spurs (with Tony Parker and Tim Duncan) but he would eventually get revenge for that later. Before that he had to go through guys like the Pistons who had Chauncey Billups, Chris Webber, and Rip Hamilton. OR guys like Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson on the New Jersey Nets.
In his fifth year he averaged 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. That’s pretty amazing, once again, if you ask me. That year he made it to the eastern conference finals (with his garbage team) and lost to the Celtics but he took that series to 7 games. That was against Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen. He was still putting up numbers against those guys, too averaging 27 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists.
How about his sixth year when he put up yet another impressive stat line of 28 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. He won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award this year. He made it to the playoffs once again, sweeping the Pistons in the first round and beating the Hawks in the second round against guys like Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Mike Bibby. He would eventually lose in 6 in the eastern conference finals against the Magic, who had a solid lineup of Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. At that time LeBron was playing with Anderson Varejao, Lou Williams, David West, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Not a bad team but not a great team and again it was mainly LeBron holding down the fort. He averaged a whopping 39 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists in that series in addition to throwing up a 49-point game. Convinced yet?
If not, I can keep going. How about his seventh year? Another MVP for him! He averaged 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists making it to the playoffs once again. He beat the Bulls 4-1 in that series scoring 40 points, 39 and 37 while also putting up a triple double in one. That was when the Bulls had peak Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. He lost in the second round to the Celtics in 6 games but the Celtics still had Garnett, Pierce, Rondo, and Allen. Everyone’s going to say, “but LeBron had Shaq.” Man, Shaq was old as hell and wasn’t contributing to anything at that time averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds. Not impressed. He also had Lou Williams, Antawn Jaimson and Anthony Parker… wow, what a fantastic group of guys. True winners.
Year eight, he decided to leave the Cavaliers to join a super team with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh… majority of y’all were crying over his decision to leave an organization who didn’t put the right pieces around him. But at the end of the day he did the right thing. He made a statement. He was loyal to a team since the start of his career and they didn’t put anything around him to help push him to an NBA title so it was time to part ways and chase after his icon Michael Jordan. Some of y’all don’t like the way he went about making ‘The Decision’ but that whole thing raised so much money for the Boys and Girls Club among other benefits. It’s also his life. He can do what he wants. It amazes me how fans get so crazy about what another human being chooses to do with his life. It’s insane to me. But anyways… back to the points. He put up stellar numbers once again averaging 27 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. He beat the Celtics 4-1 in the first round, beat the Bulls 4-1 in the second round but ended up losing to the Mavericks in the finals 4-2. That was against Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, JJ Barea, and Shawn Marion. A pretty stacked squad.
Ninth year. Averaged 33 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Beat the Knicks 4-1 with Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, JR Smith, Raymond Felton and so much more. He beat the Pacers 4-2 against Paul George, David West, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and George Hill. Then beat the Celtics 4-3 with the same team as above and then beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 in the NBA Finals who had Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha. So, LeBron did what he set out to do and won his first NBA title!
His tenth year LeBron would do the same. Put up stellar numbers, 29, 8 and 7… swept the Bucks in round 1, beat the Bulls 4-1, beat the Pacers 4-3 and then beat the San Antonio Spurs 4-3 to win his second title. The Spurs had Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, and Manu Ginobili and LeBron was still averaging damn near a triple double against them.
His eleventh year, once again, I sound like a broken record, but he was putting up the same types of numbers. 27 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. He swept Charlotte in the first round, beat the Nets in the second round, beat the Pacers in the third round and then lost to the Spurs 4-1 with the same team as the previous year.
In his 12th year, he went back to Cleveland to team up with Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert, and Matt Dellavedova… not too impressive of a team. He averaged 25 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. Not much has changed. He made it to the playoffs, swept the Celtics, beat Bulls 4-2, swept the Hawks, but then lost to the Warriors 4-2 against Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and company. He still averaged 35 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists in those playoffs.
In his 13th year, he won his third MVP averaging 25 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. This guy is the epitome of consistency. He made it to the playoffs for the 11th straight year sweeping the Pistons and the Hawks in the first and second rounds, beating Toronto 4-2 and then beating the Warriors with the same team as the previous year 4-3. James wins his third NBA title, averaging 30 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists against a team that finished 73-9 in the regular season (THE BEST RECORD EVER).
In his 14th year, he played alongside Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, JR Smith and Tristan Thompson. He averaged 25 points, 6 boards and 7 assists. He swept the Pacers and the Raptors in the first and second rounds and then beat Boston 4-1. He made it to the finals once again but would lose to the Warriors 4 games to 1 against Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. He still averaged triple-double with 37 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists despite going up against one of the best offensive teams the NBA has ever seen with the second best player in the league, not to mention 2 MVPs and 4 All-Stars… pretty crazy.
Durant was clearly the difference maker in that matchup and had he not joined the Warriors, the Cavs would’ve won their second straight title but with the way the NBA culture is going now, players are leaving teams to join Super Teams and nobody is to really blame for that except LeBron James. I totally understand why he did it, though. Players need to have more control. LeBron literally played with NO ONE throughout most of his career and he played against some of the best players including future Hall of Famers. Kevin Durant was on a team with this year’s Most Valuable Player, Russell Westbrook, and the runner up MVP, James Harden. OKC still made it to the playoffs this year on the back of Westbrook. Durant had more of a chance winning in OKC than LeBron did if he never left Cleveland to begin with.
This is why LeBron James is my Greatest of All Time. He’s putting up numbers we’ve never seen before consistently, he’s getting better with age, he has the second highest all-time Player Efficiency Rating in the NBA/ABA but will surpass MJ very soon, he will end up passing Kobe Bryant in damn near every statistic and will continue playing at a high level to win at least one more ring. LeBron has been the best player on his team since his rookie year. LeBron has 3 Finals MVPs and Kobe has 2 (for those who want to say Kobe was the best player on his team all those years he won a title. Yeah, not true. Ever hear of Shaq?). He also beat a 73-9 team. If we want to base the GOAT around stats and eye-test, LeBron is hands down the best we have ever seen! If you’re not convinced still you will be once his career is over because he’s going to pass MJ and Kobe in everything. If you’re still one of those who refuses to forgive LeBron for leaving teams, get a grip with reality.