After becoming the youngest player in NBA history to reach 29,000 career points on November 3rd against the Washington Wizards, numerous sport analysts and NBA fanatics began to question the legitimacy of his legacy. 29,000 points is not too shabby for the 6' 8", 270 pound freight train that is LeBron James, but this statistic is only a fraction of his already historic career.
With three NBA championships and most valuable player in all three of those finals appearances, four regular season MVP awards, a thirteen-time All Star, and countless more accolades, James has solidified himself on the Mount Rushmore of basketball, commonly understood and accepted by any reasonable analyst. But why stop there? In his 15th season in the league, it is time to give credit where credit is due and accept that LeBron James is the best player that the game of basketball has ever witnessed.
I hear the counterarguments already. But Michael Jordan went to six finals and won all six while never having to go to a game seven. Can LeBron say the same?! Yes, these are facts and remain intact for Michael Jordan's legacy. Undefeated in six NBA finals is a statistic that LeBron can never achieve. He has been defeated twice by the Golden State Warriors -- once under the MVP Stephen Curry and another after the league crippling move by Kevin Durant.
He also lost in 2014 to a well coached, polished Spurs team and in 2011 to the Dallas Mavericks (my team of preference so I can only be so upset) which many believed ended all talk of LeBron being considered the GOAT. He also lost in 2007 to the Spurs as well but, c'mon, we can all agree that had LeBron not been the best player of all time, that team wouldn't have even imagined playing a single playoff game.
But do rings help solidify the argument of Greatest of All Time? Wouldn't the title, in this case, have to be handed over to Bill Russell, the man who would have to use one of his toes in order to wear all of his rings?
Do we take into account the level of competition during the different eras? Yes, the Mavericks series would easily be an exception to this argument, but did Michael Jordan ever have to face any team with the firepower that is the Golden State Warriors?
Importantly, did Michael Jordan take numerous teams to the NBA finals while doing it seven (and most likely to be eight) years in a row? No.
This is the point where I would like to bring up numbers and statistics as well. After 15 seasons in the league (Michael only played 15 seasons) these are the number: Jordan averaged 30.1 ppg while James has so far averaged 27.2, James has averaged 7.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists where Michael only averaged 6.2 and 5.3, while Jordan has a slight advantage in steals per game and twenty more 50 point games, LeBron James doubles Michael Jordan in triple doubles with 56 and also has a higher regular season win percentage.
To continue with the statistics, LeBron currently has a higher field goal and three-point percentage as well as a higher box score plus minus (score while in versus out of the game).
And he's not even done.
LeBron James has remained in his prime for thirteen years while never sustaining any severe injuries also making him one of the most durable players of all time. Over the next four or five years to come, it is commonly believed by most that LBJ will have scored the most points in NBA history and dish out enough assists to make him at least in the top five all-time in that category as well.
When discussing legacy, longevity matters and LeBron has managed to remain in the peak of his career longer and stronger than any player in the history of the sport. In his fifteenth season and in the same game that LeBron reached 29,000 career points, LBJ put up 57 points with 11 rebounds and 7 assists. In his fifteenth season.
No player has averaged more than twenty-five points in more than eleven seasons in a row, and LeBron James has done it thirteen times. He can guard all five positions and can even play all five positions (demonstrated by his position at point guard on October 25th).
The question at hand is this: if the existence of the universe relied on one game 1v1 against some extraterrestrial entity with all of humanity on the line, who would be the obvious choice.