Perhaps no two players in NBA history have been more powerful than LeBron James and Michael Jordan, who dominated the league and captivated the headlines over the course of their long and successful careers.
Of course, Father Time remains undefeated, and just like it came for Jordan, it's coming for LeBron as well.
And while MJ had that underwhelming stretch with the Wizards for his final two seasons, James has yet to really hit that mark and remains among the elites of the NBA.
In an appearance on the Called Game podcast, former NBA Champion Metta Standiford-Artest compared the late-stage careers of MJ and Bron, highlighting the different approach they took...
"When MJ was playing, if LeBron did what MJ did that early, maybe LeBron gets tired also right. MJ felt like it literally was no competition that’s that was the feeling I’m gonna come back again and just win again right like, ‘I’m done, I got six rings, I’ve never lost in the finals no one’s gonna catch me.’ right and that’s his mind.
But LeBron lost in the finals. LeBron don’t have six rings, so LeBron he won six rings, but it better believes that yeah. He got four, he’s got four, that’s not a lot for him… It’s not a lot for him, that’s not a lot, you know… So it’s hard to compare what their passion is, they’re just different.”
Artest's words do make a lot of sense. Because MJ was already considered the GOAT, and not really chasing anyone, there wasn't as much urgency towards his final years, and he was kind of just having fun more than anything.
For Bron, though, his mission to catch Jordan, and go down as the greatest ever, is not yet complete, and may not be until he wins at least one more title.
It kind of explains why James continues to go so hard at 36-years-old, besides his love of the game, of course.
Either way, the bigger issue is whether or not LeBron will be able to keep up his current performance level for very long. With his missed-game count climbing, and his ankle still not quite right, it seems his decline may have finally arrived.
But, then again, he's proven before never to count him out.