LeBron James has all but cemented his place as one of the all-time greats in the NBA history. Comparisons to Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson are nothing new to him but “King” James is unfazed of the hype and delivering for his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers time and again.
But we’re not here to talk about IF he should be compared to the legends of the game. We’re gonna go into a little detail and analyse why he’s the best of the current lot of the NBA and why his contemporaries/peers such as Kevin Durant, James Harden and even Stephen Curry aren’t even close to his game :
1. Stats, Trophies and Numbers :
LeBron James has gone to make and shatter multiple records throughout his career and the numbers don’t lie. He’s the all-time highest scorer for the Cavaliers and he’s the youngest in the history of the game to reach 25000, 26000 and 27000 points, shattering the records set by Kobe Bryant and becoming the 9th highest scorer in NBA at just 31 years of age.
Furthermore, his 3 NBA Championship wins have propelled his recognition even further. Add it to his 4-time MVP (Most Valuable Player) and 3-time Finals MVP awards and you have yourself a future Naismith Hall Of Fame inductee.
2. The “Clutch” Factor :
Throughout his career, there have been detractors who have criticized LeBron James for lacking the “clutch” factor, i.e., the ability to perform under pressure situations and bail your team and even more so, lead them to victory.
James has time and again answered his critics with some of the most decisive performances for his ex-team Miami Heat and for his current team, the Cavaliers ; be it the Eastern Conference Finals Game 6 where he scored 45 points to turn the game in favor of Miami, the 2013 NBA Championship Finals Game 6 where he scored 16 points in the final quarter to bring the series to 3-3 (with 37 points in Game 7) and eventually win it or most recently, the 2016 NBA Championship Finals where his team was down by 1-3 and LeBron led them to historic comeback to win the series by 4-3, scoring 40+ points in game 5 and 6.
These few mentioned clutch moments and many more are some of the best performances by James.
3. Leadership And Impact :
LeBron has not only emerged as an iconic player but also as an iconic leader. Not only has his impact been superficial but it has been pivotal on field, as well. He went to Miami after the highly publicized and infamous television special “The Decision” where he formed a super team with Dwayne wade and Chris Bosh, with a promise to deliver on his MVP tag and get a championship. Although he failed in the first season, he went on to win 2 consecutive championships for Miami, winning 2 straight finals MVP in the process.
Furthermore, on returning to Cleveland, he announced that he was “coming home to get Cleveland a title”. Failing in his 1st season, he nearly single-handedly led the Cavs to a championship in his 2nd season after a dramatic comeback and securing another finals MVP award. Add it to the fact that he did not have much of a spectacular supporting cast with him all along, his determination, locked-in focus and winning mentality has been the driving force behind both the teams he has played for.
4. Physical Fitness, Longevity And Comparisons To Peers :
The one decisive factor which separates LeBron James from his rivals, be it James Harden, Stepehen Curry, Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook is his attention to physical fitnss and his longevity. The kind of endurance, physical prowess and strength that James exhibits on court is unparalleled.
Even commentators have gone on to compare his game to the greats by saying, “We’ve seen skill look graceful but we’ve never seen skill look so powerful”, thus cementing James’s status as not just an elite basketball player but as an elite athlete. So, this attention to fitness not only hints at a prolonged career, it also translates into a better career than most of the superstars. James is in his prime and looks to maintain that for 6-7 more years but he’s the only superstar who is tipped to go beyond that and extend his career. His injury free regime has helped him throughout his career and it shall continue to do so.
Can LeBron James become the greatest player of them all? He surely has the time and skill on his side to do so.
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.