Without a doubt, LeBron James is one of the greatest players we have ever seen. His dominance, team success, and individual accolades have been something out of a fairytale. Even as he enters his late 30’s, James is a top-three MVP candidate and easily one of the best players in the league if not the best. Even with his sublime production, he is clearly in the final stage of his illustrious career.
Going back in history, James has had two HOF careers with two different numbers, #23 and #6. His #6 is synonymous with his time with the Miami Heat superteam, while #23 is mostly remembered with his time on the Cavaliers. He managed to win chips for both franchises and has put up legendary performances every single season he has been in the league.
But which player was better? Which version of LeBron had more success, more accolades, and stronger impact?
It is time to compare which version of LeBron was the best.
Miami Heat: #6 LeBron James In His Prime
The Miami Heat LeBron James was probably the scariest. He was at his peak when you look at his physical and mental prowess. While he wasn’t as young and spry as he was in his younger days with the Cavs, he was much stronger and much more dominant on the floor. He was truly a freak of nature and the most unstoppable player in the league when he got to the Heat.
#6 LeBron had four total seasons with the Heat, averaging 26.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 6.7 APG and 1.7 SPG, and making an All-NBA team each year.
During that time period, he also managed a whopping .683 win/loss percentage which is a testament to his greatness as a player and to how dominant the Miami Heat were with two All-Star players next to him. The Heat were simply overwhelming for most teams, as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have LeBron two amazing sidekicks.
Most importantly, James captured his first two NBA titles playing for Miami. Despite making the Finals the first year of his stint with Miami, he fell to Dallas before defeating the Thunder and Spurs for two consecutive titles. This was a massive moment for LeBron, as he finally cemented himself as one of the top ten players we had ever seen. He was not done there.
The Cavaliers And Lakers: #23 LeBron James Making History
LeBron came into the league wearing #23 and still wears the number with the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron’s first stint with the Cavs was truly amazing. He came into the league a young man and was already one of the best players in the world. He as an athletic freak, and could not be stopped when he attacked the rim. It wasn’t long before he carried the Cavs to the NBA Finals, only to lose to the Spurs in four games.
He then ventured off to the Heat, before returning back four seasons later to join Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love with the Cavs. After losing to the Warriors in the Finals, he managed to snag another NBA title for the Cavaliers and make history for his city. This was his greatest achievement, and one of the most iconic moments in NBA history. “The Block” will go down in history as one of the greatest plays in the NBA Finals.
Now, James finds himself on the Los Angeles Lakers with an opportunity to win a fourth NBA title with his third team. He is clearly playing for a storied franchise, and he must win a ring to cement his legacy as an all-time Laker great. Once again, James has a superstar teammate in Anthony Davis, and he has an opportunity to continue his path to becoming the greatest player of all time.
No. 6 or No. 23?
Overall, both versions of LeBron are HOF players. LeBron with the Cavs managed to win two MVP Awards while LeBron with the Heat managed two MVPs as well. He captured two NBA titles with the Heat and one iconic NBA title with the Cavs.
The accomplishments look even on paper, so it will always be hard to decide which was the better player. The Cavaliers will certainly retire his #23 jersey, as James was their best player in franchise history by a long shot. James, in pure talent alone, was also the best player in Miami Heat history. But longevity will come into question and thus Wade will likely take that crown. Nonetheless, James will have his #6 jersey retired by Miami as well.
If James manages to capture a title with the Lakers, or maybe even two, he will have his jersey retired in an astounding three arenas. He is that great of a player, and only time will tell if he can manage to lift the trophy for the most famous LA franchise in the world.