LeBron James is, without any hesitation, one of the greatest players in NBA history. The King has done everything during his career, earning individual and collective accolades during 19 seasons, becoming one of the most honored players to ever live.
Even at age 37, with 19 seasons on his back, he's still playing at the highest level, a little slower but a lot smarter. It wasn't an easy journey, but Bron made it and helped those who were with him from Day 1.
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar was selected as the No. 2 greatest player of all time on The Athletic's top 75 list. With Michael Jordan finishing at the top, it was expected to see comparisons between His Airness and The King. They had to go through a lot to earn their positions in the league, but for one LeBron's associate, LBJ had to face bigger obstacles than Michael ever did.
LeBron was the NBA’s heir apparent, and in the early days of his career, as it appeared he was going to live up to the hype, the players James idolized as a child didn’t embrace him back.
“The road for LeBron was just as hard, if not harder than the road was for Michael,” said Rich Paul, LeBron’s agent and longtime friend. “For a number of reasons. And I think the biggest reason is, everyone wants you to do something the way somebody else did it previously.
“LeBron was a kid. (The media) wanted LeBron to be like Mike; they wanted Michael to speak to them in any capacity, which he probably didn’t. They wanted Michael to be his friend, which he probably wasn’t. They also wanted LeBron to act like, be like Michael, and he wasn’t.
“There were more people that smiled and hoped LeBron failed than there ever was rooting for him to succeed in the beginning.”
Seeing all the hype around Bron even before he entered the league, it's easy to see where Paul comes from. Even LeBron's teammates tried to dismiss his impact on the Cleveland Cavaliers during his rookie season, but he fought hard and let his game do the talking.
Now, he's a 4x NBA champion, 4x NBA MVP, 4x NBA Finals, and is on track to break the all-time scoring record of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bron has received plenty of criticism during his career thanks to certain decisions and attitudes on the court, but nobody can deny he is one of the greatest to ever lace them up.
He played in a different era than Michael, and we can say whatever we want about their respective journeys, but these two defied and beat the odds, becoming the two greatest players in NBA history.