During the Game 5 telecast of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, ESPN’s Mark Jackson called Miami’s LeBron James the best small forward in the history of the game.
According to Jackson, James tops legends such as Julius Erving, Larry Bird, and Elgin Baylor, just to name a few, as the best to ever play the position
He gets no argument here.
In fact, I will even take it a step farther and say by the time James, who will lead the Heat against San Antonio in their fourth straight NBA Final, is on his way to being considered the best of all time.
That’s right. Better than Michael Jordan.
OK, I’ll wait for all the boos, hisses, and profanity to stop…………………………………..
I know it is pure blasphemous to challenge Jordan’s mostly undisputed title as the best player ever.
But that is OK, because the topic is subjective. And it really doesn’t matter because whether you decide Jordan, James, or even Kobe Bryant, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain, who each deserve mention as the best to ever play.
The true answer is your can’t go wrong with any of the above mentioned.
Still, defining the best is difficult for a litany of reasons, from eras, to positions, to style of play.
Now, If you go by championships, well, it’s a wrap. You can stop reading after this sentence because Bill Russell won 11.
If you go by sheer stats no one comes close to the overall numbers of Chamberlain.(http://www.nba.com/history/players/chamberlain_stats.html)
If you are looking for an all-around player, how about Robertson? (http://www.nba.com/history/players/robertson_stats.html) The Big O was a walking triple double. If you go by competitiveness, spectacular play, and pressure production, Michael Jordan is the best.
But when you look at LeBron James you see a player who is unlike any who has come before him. Start with his enormous size and athleticism. According to the Miami Heat website, he checks in at 6-foot-8, and weighs 250 pounds. (http://www.nba.com/heat/roster/2013)
That is about the size of a pass rushing defensive end in the NFL, or a tight end.
Despite his size and strength, James possesses the speed and elusiveness of a point guard. He has the creativity of Jordan and Erving, and the passing ability and basketball intelligence of Magic and the Big O.
James is a prolific scorer, and he is a terrific defender as well. He can guard point guards, small forwards and power forwards. His string of five consecutive seasons as first teamer on the all NBA defense team ended recently when he was named to the second team.(http://www.nba.com/playerfile/lebron_james/career_stats.html)
James is complete. He has the talent to be the NBA’s defensive player of the year. He could lead the league in rebounding, he could lead the league in assists, and scoring.
Not even Jordan could do that.
James combines a stunning blend of physical gifts, a brilliant basketball IQ, leadership and unselfishness. He makes those around him better. That is the ultimate compliment of an athlete in team sports.
We haven’t seen a player be put together all of those assets in a way that LeBron James had.
And what’s scary about all of this is, he is just getting started.
MJ will always get the nod as the greatest ever, and it’s hard to knock that take. However, his position on the throne as the mythical king of the NBA may be put in jeopardy by another King.