The conversation of who’s the best basketball player of all-time has always been an extraordinary debate. In the 50’s it was Dolph Schayes versus George Mikan, the 60’s Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, the 70’s lead by Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the ’80s had Earvin “Magic” Johnson versus Larry Bird, and the ’90s may have been reserved by one man, Micheal “Air” Jordan.
Usher in the new millennium, the league saw players evolve to faster and stronger. We were mind-boggled by a man strong enough to require the league to change the dynamics of the backboard because of his raw power, Shaquille O’Neal.
We watched a prolific scorer that was capable of dropping 81 while winning five NBA Championships with the late Kobe Bryant. And we witnessed a young man from Akron, Ohio change the game due to size and athleticism by the name of LeBron James.
You could add numerous names to that list but if there was a Mount Rushmore of the greatest how do you go about choosing them. Is it the number of championships? How many points did they score? Or how they made their teammates better?
All the names mentioned are players that accomplished all those feats while keeping critics doubtful of their capabilities. The factors that should go into selecting the best ever should be their production, ability to win titles, and how they were able to change the game.
Yes Wilt Chamberlain dominated the game while shooting at a high percentage, Magic was able to play every position on the greatest stage in a Finals game, and Jordan dominated in an era where physicality and talent were on an upward trend.
All these players were trendsetters. They made the game enjoyable to watch but required special attention because of their remarkable talents.
So what makes LeBron James, King? Maybe one reason is that he’s 6’8” and 250 lbs which makes him impossible to guard and a phenomenal finisher at the basket. He’s also taken his teams to 10 NBA Finals, eight of them consecutively (2011-2018) while just winning his fourth Championship.
What some fans tend to forget is that LeBron has also been on some teams that didn't feature the quality play that he has been able to endure in the second half of his career. LeBron joining All-stars Duane Wade and Chris Bosh gave him the weapons around him to elevate him to that elite champion status.
When LeBron returned back to Cleveland he was able to team up with Kyrie Irving and bring Cleveland their first NBA championship. Since then LeBron has brought his skill set to LA and most recently teamed up with Anthony Davis which won LA’s 17th championship tied most in NBA history with the Boston Celtics.
LeBron has brought so much value to the league while being able to do it at such a high level his whole career. He keeps his body in immaculate shape and continues to be a positive role model outside of his sport while doing tremendous things for surrounding communities.
There may not be an answer to who is the best player ever because that is what makes the game so great. Players evolve, legacies are created, and records continue to be broken. A true fan sits back and relishes the captivating play by these great ones and how they’re able to orchestrate with such precision and accuracy.
So whoever the next Jordan, Bryant, or LeBron is, remember one thing, they won’t be here forever so enjoy what they are doing during their time as a professional and prepare to make your argument on how in your day LeBron was the greatest ever to play.