One of the biggest aspects of LeBron James' game has been his adaptability. Many fans have often wondered how LeBron James would have played if he was in the NBA during the much more physical era of the 80s and 90s.
Players from the 80s and 90s fall into this category. Many players from the previous era have questioned whether James has what it takes to be successful during the game's most physically challenging era. In fact, players like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird said they would pick Kobe Bryant over LeBron James.
3 players in particular who have shown skepticism about LeBron James are Dennis Rodman, Mychal Thompson, and Rasheed Wallace. All 3 have questioned and criticized James' game, saying he wouldn't be as successful during their era.
Dennis Rodman: “If LeBron was playing in the late 80s or early 90s, he’d be just an average player.”
Michael Thompson: “LeBron couldn’t have survived in the 80s with the physicality and the words guys said to each other back then. We all respect LeBron’s ability… But man, sometimes he acts too entitled like he’s supposed to get everything he wants.”
Rasheed Wallace: “I don’t think he would be as successful as he is now. It’s a whole different era back then.”
Fans reacted to these comments on Instagram, most noting that Wallace's comments make no sense given that James was able to beat him and the Pistons during his peak years. Whereas some questioned whether Mychal Thompson's comments had anything to do with James' rivalry with his son Klay and the Golden State Warriors.
Most detractors of LeBron feel that his success is mostly due to the softer era he plays in. The modern NBA is a lot less lenient when it comes to physical contact, which people feel as though James has benefitted from throughout his career.
Some fans believe that James would have been just fine, as his build is what gives him a significant advantage. James is 6'8, close to 260 pounds, and can move at a speed that most men his size cannot even fathom. On top of that, his talent is generational, and far supersedes that of most players from that era.
This debate will never end because there is no way of knowing how James would have survived in that era. Regardless of eras, James has established himself as one of the best to ever play the game. And he will be looking to add to his legacy this season, as he and the Lakers aim for the NBA championship.