The National Basketball Association has been around for 72 years, and many great players have came and gone through the league, but who is THE greatest? The answer is the kid out of the poor, small town Akron, Ohio named LeBron James. LeBron James has accomplished so many accolades on the court that it’s hard to even estimate a number, but what builds on his legacy and greatness is how he contributes to this world outside of just basketball.
James has put up some of the craziest basketball stats known to mankind. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said, “LeBron’s overwhelming career achievements include three NBA championships, four times NBA Most Valuable Player, 15 times NBA All-Star and many other awards and distinctions.” Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all time leading scorer, and considered one of the greatest therefore he is a very credible source to argue about Lebron’s legacy or anything basketball related at that. LeBron James has made it to the playoffs thirteen out of the sixteen years that he has been to the league, including eight straight trips to the NBA finals being the only player to ever do so. Also, James is the only player in NBA history to get to 30,000 points, 8,000 rebounds and 8,000 assists. Not to mention that LeBron is accomplishing things like this against way tougher competition than the man who others consider to be the GOAT, Michael Jordan.
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Yes LeBron does have a .33 winning percentage in the NBA finals being 3 for 9, but the odds have always been against LeBron yet he has still found a way to survive. In LeBron’s first trip to the NBA finals in 07, he was facing off against a veteran San Antonio Spurs team in their prime while a young LeBron was carrying the Cleveland Cavs who many people can’t even remember another player off that team. Fast forward to when LeBron joined the Cavaliers in 14-15. He did have a good regular season team as he had Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, two all stars but they both got injured in the finals so once again Lebron was playing a great NBA team with the league MVP Steph Curry by himself, and still managed to take it to six games.
The next year the Warriors had only got better with a record breaking 73 regular season wins, the most in NBA history. LeBron and the cavs had their full squad but were down 3-1 but ended up coming back and winning the series 4-3 being the only team in NBA history to ever do so. LeBron of course led this pack having 40+ points multiple games and having a block that will be remembered forever in the finals minutes of Game 7, leading hm to win finals MVP. The next year that same 73-9 warriors team added who many claim as the second best current basketball player Kevin Durant to their roster so at that point the warriors had four all stars on their team. Jordan never had to play more than one. Although LeBron would lose the next two finals, Abdul-Jabbar also said, “ In last year’s playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, LeBron badly twisted his ankle and still managed to pull off a triple double: 33 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. That’s pretty much the definition of perseverance.” (Newsweek.com, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar”. Showing that no matter what the circumstances are, LeBron is going to be consistently great.
Lebron has also been recognized as great by many notable organizations and people outside of the NBA. In 2017 he won the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship award, he is a 3x AP athlete of the year, 2x sports illustrated sportsperson of the year, NAACP Jackie Robinson award winner and much more. GQ referred to Lebron as “THE GREATEST BASKETBALL PLAYER ON EARTH, ALSO KNOWN AS LeBRON JAMES” and that was when he was only 25. (Not to mention LeBron has been on the cover of the prestigious GQ magazine many many times). LeBron James has been noticed of course because of all the outstanding things he does as far as basketball, but also because of his contribution to communities and the country in general.
Not many basketball players hit the billionaire mark, but LeBron James has due to his endorsements alongside his NBA salary. A lot of NBA players do donate to charity because they kind of feel obligated, but you can tell LeBron does it from the heart. In 2018, LeBron opened up his own elementary school in his hometown Akron. This gives free education and college prep type of stuff to kids who are “at risk” and not so privileged so that they can have just as much opportunity than everyone else. This school is funded by the LeBron James Family Foundation, which is another one of his Charity organizations he started in 2013. The Black EOE Journal said about James, “He never forgets his humble beginnings and is always ready to give to those in need and causes that he believes in.” Other than giving back to the community, LeBron has also spoke out on nationwide issues and politics. He has also been featured in a couple of movies such as Trainwreck (2015) and Smallfoot (2018), and even appeared on rap albums. What does this man not do!
As stated before, LeBrons greatest competition is someone who he will never actually physically compete against. Don’t get me wrong, MJ did some crazy things too and is definitely probably the second greatest after LeBron, but if you just look at the facts and stats MJ isn’t better than LeBron. Many often argue Jordan is 6 for 6 in the finals as opposed to the 3 for 9 LeBron, but people fail to realize Jordan was getting kicked out of the playoffs early while LeBron was always at least in the conference finals and made the NBA finals 8 straight years in a row! No one else has ever done that. Also Jordan never truly played a dominant team as opposed to LeBron and his era playing against teams like the San Antonio spurs and the ridiculously insane Golden State Warriors.
Last but not least, Jordan has always had a good support system while LeBron many times has had to do it by himself. When Jordan left the NBA to go play baseball his former team literally only won 2 less games than they did when Jordan was playing. When Lebron left Cleveland in 2010 they went from having the best record in the league to actually having the worst. When he left Miami in 2014, they missed the playoffs the next year and when he recently left Cleveland again they are now in a bad position again. I think it’s clear LeBron has had a way bigger impact on the league and every team he’s been on.
The GOAT debate is a debate that will never be unanimously agreed on. Up until 2003 when James came into the league, 90% of the basketball world probably would say that Jordan was the greatest to ever do it but Lebron definitely has made his statement. Jordan probably has a dirtier highlight reel and a couple of more big time plays which is why a lot of older people from that era won’t turn against him, but LeBron’s stats and consistency on top of all the amazing highlights tops it all. Maybe it’s a pride thing, maybe people truly do just believe Jordan was the basketball king, but in all reality King James is the best to ever do it.
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