LeBron James offers his personal contention on the GOAT debate
LeBron James offers his take on the GOAT debate originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
As LeBron James' nears Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA all-time scoring record, the GOAT debate has made its way back into conversations.
Who is the greatest player in NBA history?
James delivered his take during an exclusive interview with The Orange County Register.
“What I bring to the table as a basketball player … I feel like I’m the best basketball player that ever played the game,” James said to OCR. “That’s just my confidence, that’s just what I bring to the table, what I possess. But as far as if the scoring record gets me to another level, I don’t know.”
I think the city of Chicago would have a lot to say about this.
Certainly, James' escalation to the top of the all-time scoring charts doesn't solidify him as the greatest to ever play the game.
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The main argument best serving James against Michael Jordan – and all the others in the conversation – is longevity.
James will turn 39 years old during the ongoing regular season, yet he's still playing some of the best basketball of his career. Over the past two seasons, he's garnered his 18th and 19th All-Star nods while averaging over 30 points per game, a mark he hadn't hit since he was 23.
He serves as one of – if not the greatest – all-around players the NBA has ever seen. Not only can he score at the most elite level – evidenced by his soon-to-be all-time scoring title – but, he can facilitate with the best of the best – evidenced by his move to the fourth-most assists in history.
Jordan, on the other hand, represents arguably the best prime career in NBA history. He went 6-0 in the NBA Finals during the 1990s, helping the Bulls to two, three-peat championship eras.
He won 10 scoring titles, to James' one. He has five league MVPs, one more than James, and six Finals MVPs, to James' four. Jordan's main claim over James, to some outsiders, is his six rings to James' four.
Also, James has hopped from team to team during his NBA career, unlike Jordan, who played 13 of his 15 seasons with the Bulls. (He joined the Washington Wizards for a brief, two-year stint before retiring for the third time in his career.)
Since entering the league in 2003, just after Jordan retired, James was drafted to his hometown team, where he spent the first seven years of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He jumped to the Miami Heat, where he won two championships, then back to the Cavs, and now the Lakers, where he won one championship each.
James' instances of jumping to a team, forcing the organization's hand in finding superstars to pair with (remember advocating for trading Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love during his second Cavaliers stint), then jumping ship when it's all gone south, is one of the few criticisms he's received over his career.
Jordan – or should I say, the Bulls – drafted Scottie Pippen a few years after Jordan, acquired Dennis Rodman and created a superstar core from the get-go, much like the modern Golden State Warriors in Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
To that end, James stans will argue Jordan didn't need to do the work James has had to do, as then general manager Jerry Krause set the Bulls up for success during their dynasty years.
This story could go on for days, comparing and contrasting each detail down to the basket. But, I'll end with what James said, leaving a hypothetical asterisk by his name.
“Y’all never seen anybody like me," James said.
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