COMMENTARY | Since Michael Jordan retired for the final time, very few have challenged the consensus that he is the best to ever play in the NBA. Jordan led his Chicago Bulls to an NBA Championship on six occasions, and was the alpha male in a league that featured other greats such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Karl Malone, and Charles Barkley.
It is very unlikely that anyone will ever be able to match Jordan’s fire, intensity, and passion for the game. In that sense, Kobe Bryant may be the closest we will ever witness. But that alone does not define greatness.
With this in mind, MJ should enjoy his current status as the greatest of all time. By the time LeBron James retires, the self-proclaimed King will be the best to ever play the game.
At 28 years old, LeBron James seems to have figured everything out. After two losses in the NBA Finals, he came through in a heroic postseason run to earn his first ring over the second best player in the league, Kevin Durant. James’ scoring, offensive penetration, low-post game, distribution ability, defensive prowess, rebounding, and overall basketball IQ make him the most complete player we have seen in a while.
While LeBron may never post the gaudy scoring numbers that Jordan had, James boasts a more complete game. He understands that getting to the rim, getting in the post, and open threes are his best offensive plays, and by far his most efficient options. He plays within himself in a way that Jordan was too proud to. Additionally, LeBron’s passing, rebounding, and defending are already better than Jordan’s ever were. As a bigger, stronger body, James also offers more lineup flexibility to his teams. We saw this last postseason, where the Heat were able to play with a smaller lineup by sliding LeBron to power forward. By no fault of his own, MJ never gave his coaches that option.
In 2013, there are still plenty of superstars who have yet to win a championship. Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard are the three names that come to mind. LeBron is ahead of all three, and has the opportunity to spoil their careers the way Jordan did to Malone, Stockton, and Barkley.
LeBron James has all of the tools to become the greatest to ever play the game of basketball. Perhaps more importantly, he has finally figured out how to use them to assure that nobody in the league can touch his greatness. Michael Jordan better watch out, because King James is coming for the throne.
Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering the Celtics for 3 years. He has been featured on Fox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated “Hot Clicks”, and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings.