The NBA is about to begin its 78th season, and there are plenty of interesting storylines going into the 2023-24 campaign. One of them is whether LeBron James will continue to play at a high level and lead the Los Angeles Lakers to another world championship, which would be his fifth.
He already has a sterling resume, and his individual accomplishments are almost second to none. While he has won four championships, he has also lost six times in the NBA Finals. Depending on how one perceives James, he or she may consider it a disappointment, or one may consider simply making it to the title series 10 times a massive accomplishment, regardless of how many times he took home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The debate about where James ranks among the greatest NBA players ever rages on. HoopsHype just gave its ranking of the 77 greatest players ever, and it had James at No. 2.
“There have been major developments in LeBron James‘ GOAT case since last year, most notably in the form of the four-time league MVP becoming the NBA’s all-time regular season leading scorer. (He already was No. 1 by a mile in the playoffs). Oh, and he also has the most playoff series wins in league history after a surprising run to the Western Conference Finals last season, though that did end in a sweep loss.
“Now three of the eight HoopsHype staffers taking part in this vote pick him as the best ever. It’s getting close.
“… Few players have ever matched James’ absurd basketball IQ, one that he could use to continue to dominate for the next few seasons as his career winds down.”
If James is fortunate enough to avoid any major injuries, he could continue to add to his legacy and strengthen his argument as arguably the greatest ever over the next couple of years or so.
Five other Lakers made the top 10 list
An example of how and why the Lakers are the gold standard of basketball can be seen in the rest of HoopsHype’s ranking.
In its top 10, it had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar third, Magic Johnson fourth, Wilt Chamberlain (who spent his last five years in L.A.) at No. 6, Kobe Bryant at No. 8 and Shaquille O’Neal at ninth.
In addition, Jerry West, the legendary Lakers guard from the 1960s who later became just as great an executive for them, was ranked No. 18. His co-star for most of his career, Elgin Baylor, was 21st.