LeBron James is hands down the greatest athlete the NBA and maybe professional sports has ever seen and if you cannot agree with that then you might as well stop reading because you’re definitely not going to like where this is going.
Listen, let me preface this by saying I am a stereotypical awful millennial Michael Jordan fan. There are more than a few photos of my stupid buck-toothed adolescent face wearing Carolina blue head to toe out there. I was ride or die for MJ, even though I only saw him play in person once… for the Washington Wizards (he dropped 39 on the Knicks, nbd, but sigh…).
And I firmly believe that Jordan is the greatest there ever was and ever has been, but that might not be the case anymore in a week’s time.
LeBron has been in every single NBA Finals since 2011. 2011. Before this run started Osama Bin Laden was still alive, they were only on Fast Five and the Harry Potter franchise still had one movie to go.
When LBJ started this run I was a senior in high school, hadn’t driven on the highway yet and still wasn’t sure if I was doing “it” right (still aren’t, tbh).
Over the course of his superhuman 14-year career thus far, LeBron is 9th in points, 12th in assists, 22nd in steals, 83rd in rebounds with the 7th highest career win shares and best ever career box plus/minus and value over a replacement player.
Not to mention a ridiculous true shooting percentage of 58.4% (which even eclipses Jordan’s 56.9%) and that even includes his willingness to let his busted jumper shoot an inexplicable amount of 3-pointers.
And take into account 32-year old LeBron does not appear to be slowing down and could still be demoralizing NBA defenses at least long enough for us to see him playing with LeBron Jr.
And yeah, Jordan put up ridiculous numbers too, but it’s time to face facts, this is the best the NBA has ever been. I know a generations worth of angry white dudes just turned over in there graves and 90’s and 80’s NBA stars are shaking their fists screaming about the lost art of the mid-range jumper and hand checking, but shush up.
Let’s go down memory lane for a second, the “Houdini of the Hardwood,” Bob Cousy would get absolutely WASHED by any high schooler in 2017.
He pretended to change directions and broke someone’s ankles! What the fuck, he didn’t even change hands and made someone crumble to their knees, turned his ass to dust! If that happened today, you wouldn’t even get a “WHOO! WHOO!” people would just look down and shake their heads in shame, shame.
Early Sunday morning @TrillWithers went on one of his famed slandering rants against athletes of yesteryear that was prompted by this tweet, showing just how heinous hoops of the 80’s actually was:
Just awful shots, no ambidextrous players (even Magic Johnson hardly used his left), lots of dudes just standing like statutes and fumbling with the rock. And I assure you, the 90’s wasn’t much better.
Besides LeBron vs. MJ the next favorite argument is the Warriors vs. the infamous 72-10 1996 Chicago Bulls. Well, let me put that to rest right now. The Warriors would have murdered the Bulls, put them out to pasture and made MJ either regret coming out of retirement or go to prison for killing his teammates.
Don’t get me wrong, MJ could hang in any era, Pippen too. But, everybody else? No way. The ’96 Bulls attempted 1,349 3’s, making 544 with Pippen leading the way with 150, Jordan with 111 and Kerr with 122.
The 2017 Warriors? Attempted 2,563 over ONE THOUSAND MORE and drained 982. Klay (268) and Steph (324) eclipsed the entire Bulls make total themselves, while Durant made 6 more than Jordan did with 117.
Kind of hard to hand check when the ball is moving around the perimeter at a million miles an hour with 3 of the most prolific three point shooters in NBA history ready to drain J’s in your eyeballs. Not to mention Draymond chipped in 81 of his own and then Iggy added 64.
So, I understand the argument that the game is different now, but the hypothetical doesn’t involve the Bulls getting a life-time to relearn how to play basketball and there’s no way all the physicality of play in the world is slowing down that offense. So, let Jordan get 60, still need Pippen and the land of misfit toys to add 60 of their own to make this a series. Every game.
So, what’s my point here?
LeBron lead a comeback last year down 3-1 to win the title, albeit with a suspect Draymond suspension tossed in and an unreal effort from Kyrie. That series LeBron averaged 29.7/11.3/8.9/2.6/2.3, which is the most preposterous slash line anyone will ever see against a team that good.
And a team “that good,” was in the argument of the greatest team ever and what did they do? Oh, just swapped Harry Barnes deer in the headlights, brick laying ass for Kevin fucking Durant.
Hands down the greatest comeback and finals performance we will likely ever see. Unless he does it again, but bigger and somehow more unlikely.
In Friday night’s Game Four, LeBron put together a 31/11/10 night to secure at least one more game for the 2017 Cleveland Cavaliers and has averaged a cool 31.8/11.8/10.5/1.3/1.0 stat line in the series as a whole.
Now, it’s unlikely as anything we have ever seen in sports, but if and that is the biggest if in the history of professional sports, the Cavs find a way to erase a 3-0 deficit against the greatest team ever assembled, just one year after coming back from down 3-1, then LeBron James is the greatest ever and I won’t hear otherwise.
And while Jordan’s undefeated record in the finals and “clutch factor,” is always the prime argument against LeBron, just take a moment to digest the level of competition:
I’m out here for my guy Detlef (mostly for his guest spot on Parks and Rec) and maybe some of these guys could have stolen some of… I don’t know… Ian Clark’s minutes on the Warriors? But they do not even touch Klay/Draymond/maybe not even Livingston or Iguodala’s minutes on this year’s team.
So, if LeBron does the impossible, not once, but two years in a row, the LBJ vs. MJ argument heats up and you know where I’ll fall.
And MJ if you’re reading this (which, you are not), know that you’ll always be number one in my heart (and please stop wearing Steve Harvey suits… and JNCO jeans… and cargo shorts while you golf).
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