LeBron James has done it again. In his 17th season, he captured his 4th NBA title and 4th Finals MVP Award which should put to rest any critics about what LeBron has achieved in the game. It is unprecedented how a player can play at a high level for this long, and he doesn't seem to be slowing down at all. With his 3rd NBA team, James has captured another NBA title that places him in a special company.
There have been countless talks on how LeBron James compares to the greatest players of all time, especially Michael Jordan, and this 4th NBA ring certainly closes a gap. In fact, it might have made LeBron James the single greatest player in NBA history. To argue the case for The King, here are the 4 main reasons why LeBron James is the greatest NBA player of all time.
It is hard to remember a player that has played at an elite level like LeBron James for this long. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar comes to mind, but he was the second option for the Los Angeles Lakers as Magic Johnson was the leader for the team. In year 17 going on to year 18, LeBron James has always been the best player on his team and that has led to 4 NBA titles and 4 Finals MVPs. In a nutshell, LeBron James is certainly one of a kind.
It is reported that LeBron James spends up to $1 million a year to preserve his body, keeping him healthy and at full strength every year. This type of dedication and sacrifice for the game is extremely rare, and he has done everything in his power to remain healthy. While he has been lucky to not have suffered any serious injuries over his career, James has zoned in on his basketball career and has not let anything off the court deter him. This type of dedication allows his longevity, which is a reason he can be regarded as the best player ever.
But LeBron's statistics are even more impressive. Game 6 against Miami marked James’ 260th playoff game, the most in league history. He posted a triple-double, his record 11th in the NBA Finals, and 28th overall in the playoffs. Quite fittingly, LeBron is second to only Magic Johnson who holds the record of total playoff triple-doubles with 30. Seeing how LeBron has the greatest longevity ever, it is only a matter of time before he breaks that record as well.
3. 3 Finals MVPs With 3 Different Teams
LeBron James became the first player in NBA history to capture 3 Finals MVPs with 3 different teams. That is truly amazing, as most players cannot simply change teams and win NBA titles as the man. This shows that wherever LeBron went, he has won NBA titles and has been the undisputed best player in the Finals. 10 Finals appearances have led to 4 NBA titles and 4 Finals MVPs with 3 teams, certainly, some facts that should be attributed to the greatest player of all time.
After struggling to get it done with Cleveland the first time around, LeBron bolts to Miami where he wins 2 straight Finals MVPs playing alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He returns to Cleveland, only to knock off the greatest regular-season team in history in the Finals by coming back 3-1. In only his second season with the Lakers, he won his 4th Finals MVP by dominating the playoffs and simply being the best player on the court. We will probably never see another player who can accomplish this feat, and LeBron is the only player to have 3 Finals MVPs with 3 different teams.
This achievement shows LeBron's greatness in every little detail. What is impressive is that James might be the greatest all-around player in NBA history. This is the only way to describe how a player can manage 3 Finals MVPs in 3 years. By looking at the stats, one can draw this conclusion.
His career 27.07 PPG scoring average is ranked fourth all-time behind Michael Jordan (30.12 PPG), Wilt Chamberlain (30.07 PPG), and Elgin Baylor (27.36 PPG). He is also third all-time in points scored (34,241) behind Karl Malone (36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387). In terms of assists, LeBron ranks 8th all-time behind 7 other point guards.
2. Impact On The Game
LeBron's impact on the game is undeniable. Whether it's on the court or off the court, no player has the tools that LeBron has. Off the court, he is as pristine as one can get. Almost every single great player has some sort of off-court legal issue, but LeBron James doesn't have a single one. He is a global ambassador for the game that is truly a role model and an icon for all sports fans, and we are lucky to have witnessed it.
It is on the court that LeBron James truly shines. His basketball I.Q. is second to none, and he has found a way to use his athletic gifts to dominate the game while his mind leads the way. LeBron knows every play, can make any adjustments and knows how to win games. His passing ability might be the greatest ever or at least comparable to Magic Johnson, except he is built like a power forward. James is essentially Karl Malone with speed and hops, which makes him an unstoppable player on the court.
No matter the records and statistics, LeBron has probably broken them. By simply looking at the cold hard facts, LeBron has an almost unbeatable case for being the best player ever. His career stat line is 27.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 0.8 BPG while shooting 50.4%. LeBron has a record 16 All-NBA Selections, 16 All-Star Selections, 6 All-Defensive Team Selections, 4 MVPs, and the Rookie of the Year Award.
No player has had to carry pressure like LeBron James, even before entering the NBA in the Class of '03. James was the most hyped high school prospect in the country, and many were immediately comparing him to Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. LeBron took that pressure on his shoulders for 17 years, and he has performed admirably. No player has been criticized like LeBron either, with the media looking at every detail in his life. The fact that LeBron James has these accolades to his name while carrying the amount of pressure he has is truly incredible.
1. The Greatest Comeback In NBA Finals History
The greatest achievement in LeBron's career should be the main argument for placing him as the best to ever do it. Down 3-1 against the 73-9 Golden State Warriors, LeBron James and the Cavaliers were in deep trouble. LeBron's legacy was on the line as he would have lost yet another NBA Finals appearance, and his 2 rings would have been another talking point that critics would have pointed to. Yet, LeBron James put on his superhero cape and won 3 straight games for Cleveland. Astonishingly, LeBron James delivered a title to a city that will probably never see the Finals again.
The only team to ever come back from 3-1 in the Finals was the Cavaliers led by LeBron James, which proved that he had no limits to what he could do on the court. By averaging 29.7 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 8.9 APG, 2.6 BPG, and 2.3 SPG in the NBA Finals, LeBron led the Cavs against the greatest NBA team ever in terms of regular-season wins and he deserves all the credit in the world for that. Despite up against Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and head coach Steve Kerr; LeBron made history by winning with Cleveland in 2016.
LeBron delivered on his promise to the city of Cleveland that he would one day bring an NBA title to his hometown. He was drafted by Cleveland, played his first 8 years there, and returned with an NBA title in his hand. This achievement shows that LeBron James endured the most adversity in an NBA Finals more than any other player, and was able to get through it by playing the highest level of basketball that we have seen by him to this day.