There is a great quote from our current President that reads ever so eloquently, “I only work with the best.” I love this quote because it illuminates two things: first, it shows that anyone can seem wise out of context, and second, it reveals something simple about success and greatness that I think a great deal of people tend to miss. If you want to be the greatest, then seek out the greatest; don’t compete with those who are the best, join them, learn from them and conquer with them. Don’t reject joining the best out of pride, put that ego aside and recognize the value that comes with joining the absolute pinnacle of your field. With all this in the mind, let’s answer the question of, “Is LeBron James the greatest basketball player of all-time?”
No, LeBron James is not the greatest basketball player of all-time. He’s close to reaching that elusive pinnacle, but he’s lacking something. LeBron isn’t lacking in personal achievements, his name is already firmly etched as the highest scorer in NBA playoff history, while also being one of the top fifteen all-time players in assists (and he’s not even a point guard!). Certain analysts suggest that the reason Lebron will never be the greatest is due to his “attitude.”
They claim that Lebron has shied away from the spotlight in big games in order to set up his teammates and due to that, he must receive a demerit because, “MJ would never have done that.” I, and many others, view this whole situation much more simply. I believe that LeBron will never be considered the greatest basketball player of all-time until he wins more NBA championships than Michael Jordan. Six titles will always be greater than three. It’s that simple; this is not a hot take. Many people agree that the titles are LeBron’s biggest barrier, so the question is, how does he win these titles?
Idealists state that LeBron can win these titles in Cleveland, but the fulcrum of their argument is dependent upon some LeBron x-factor. The common phrase you’ll hear from these idealists is as follows, “If he plays hard and his general manager makes some good trades then sure he can compete!” While many, including myself, sympathize with this position and the city of Cleveland, the idea that the current Cleveland roster could effectively trade their way to a team that can beat Golden State just isn’t realistic.
Then, after the idealists, you have the mainstream analysts. There is a speculative consensus amongst the sports writers’ community that LeBron will be leaving Cleveland to join the young Los Angeles Lakers. This premise is based upon the idea that LeBron has many business ventures in Los Angeles and with the Lakers being young, he could compete for years to come and there isn’t really a counter argument against this. Yes, Los Angeles has a great breadth of business opportunity for LeBron and yes, this Lakers team is young, exciting and well coached, meaning LeBron could very well succeed there.
But, there is still the issue of that team in Oakland. Even if LeBron were to join Los Angeles, the odds of them beating Golden State immediately, or in the next four years, are slim. If LeBron joins the Lakers, he is potentially ceding at least the next three years of his prime to the Golden State Warriors. So, yes, the Lakers is a possibility, but LeBron’s window is closing. He is thirty-two years old and needs to win now. So, what should he do? The answer may seem blasphemous to some but it’s clear, he must join the Golden State Warriors.
I can hear you audibly gasp as you read that statement and I recognize the controversy of suggesting that. These common thoughts have probably come to your mind: “He is just a quitter if he does that!,” “Michael Jordan never joined a super team!,” “If he wants to be the best he must beat Golden State, not join them!” I respond to all of this by stating, six titles will always be greater than three. If LeBron wants to be the greatest, he just needs to win more titles than Michael Jordan did; that is his final hurdle. Just entertain the idea for a moment.
You have a starting five of Durant, Curry, Thompson, LeBron and Iguodala (I had to remove Draymond for Cap space reasons). You might be noticing the lack of a true center in that lineup. That is intentional, as the role of an NBA center has changed. The low-post scoring center is obsolete, all that matters at the center position is having a rim protector who can shoot. There used to be heavy debate about this a few years ago but now, with the heavy three-point and fast basketball being played, the consensus his clear. With that in mind, this starting five would undoubtedly win the title for at least the next three years and probably even more. And here is the best part, LeBron would be the best player on this team.
Kevin Durant would be the go-to scorer, Stephen Curry would be the facilitating point guard, Klay Thompson would stretch the floor by being the three-point specialist and LeBron? He would do a bit of everything while leading the team to consecutive titles. The Golden State Warriors are a special team, with LeBron James however, the Golden State Warriors would become transcendent.
What LeBron James needs to cement his legacy as the greatest basketball player of all-time are NBA championships. By joining the Golden State Warriors, he can fulfill that goal. Of course, there will be those who give LeBron a demerit for his actions, but the greatest figures are often the most polarizing. People can argue years from now about whether or not LeBron joining the Warriors was the right thing to do, but one thing they won’t be able to deny is that he will have more than six rings, and that’s all he needs.