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Friday, January 15, 2021

LeBron James belongs in all-time greatest discussion

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I had a video sent to me recently which featured Michael Jordan sidestepping the question of who is the greatest player in the history of the NBA and shifting the focus to who was the greatest team instead.

Many probably would think after watching the video that Jordan was just being respectful to all the greats that had come before and even after him. While many place him at the top of the list, I would respectfully add that there are several other names that should be considered.

There was that one guy named Chamberlain and some fellow named Oscar as well. Later on a fellow known as Alcindor surfaced and there is that one guy affectionately known as Magic too.

There are those in Terre Haute that say their man Larry is the king, and the West Coast faction will insist (rightfully so I might add) we throw in Kobe into the mix too.

There is one more candidate for the moniker, and perhaps you have heard of him. You know the guy who can never do enough to satisfy the expectations of the mainstream media? The one who jumped straight from high school and began to compete against the best players in the world, under the white hot spotlight and all the scrutiny of both the old guard and as well as today’s generation.

Yes I am referring to one LeBron Raymone James and I feel there actually is no debate whatsoever that his name be placed firmly among the aforementioned. Still hammering him for the process that surrounded his departure from Cleveland to Miami? Uh, get over it. Sure it could have been handled better, but he simply took advantage of the system that allows top players to choose their zip code.

For those of you who foolishly point to the other players he is surrounded with and discount his Herculean efforts in the NBA finals these past two years, take a gander at the supporting casts of all those I have included for the sake of this debate. They all had help, as you do not get to Titletown without some assistance. In this era of Twitter and Facebook where each and every move is broadcasted globally for all to dissect, James has done everything, and then some, to distinguish himself accordingly as one of the all time greatest, but still lacks his well deserved coronation, largely in part to those who allow petty jealousy and hatred to sway their vote. Hogwash I say.

When interviewed after receiving yet another NBA finals MVP award, James praised his teammates and the Miami coaching staff, shifting the credit to them and then paid tribute to those who had came before him and provided the opportunities players in the game have today. He also pointed out areas in which he can improve (hard to imagine eh?) issuing the challenge right then for both himself and his Heat running mates to begin the quest for a third straight championship.

If he is able to rack up a third one, will he be given the accolades he has earned or will there again be a myriad of excuses proclaimed for why he isn’t as good as Jordan or Kobe? The ongoing diatribe will no doubt be present and while those who will not embrace James for what he has done truly baffles me, it has no doubt become a part of the territory for James as he continues his meteoric rise to the top.

Some say you truly cannot assess an athlete’s true greatness by virtue of individual accomplishments, and you must look at how he made those around him better and in the process fortified the team. For those who cannot clearly see where James has done all of that and then some, shame on you. The misconception that his championships were purchased and not earned is unconscionable, and he is providing all who enjoy the pro game with results that go far beyond words such as incredible and outstanding. Not only are we witnessing one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA, we are also being treated to some of the most spectacular individual performances we could possibly fathom.

Fans pay their hard earned money for tickets and merchandise, and so by that virtue have a conditional right to support the player and team of their choice. That too includes determining who they do not like, even when the reasoning is skewed and irrational.

Want to boo James when he rolls through your local arena? Have at it, but do not be blind to the fact that his talents are special and rare. For a change of pace, open your mind enough to look at his body of work and what a tremendous challenge it is to be “The Man” every day.

So with all the respect in the world to the other names in this debate, I say give him his well deserved “props” and accept the fact that he is one of the greatest ever. While time will indeed tell, on the day he finally hangs them up, he just may be everything you think he isn’t and take the seat that is reserved for the greatest of all time. Until then, simply enjoy the show. 

Danny Bridges, who thinks LeBron James will improve dramatically as his career evolves, can be reached at (317) 588-1780 or at [email protected]

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