By: Opinionated Reezy (Ronald Stovall)
I already know some of you are foaming at the mouth and getting ready to type hate and venom into the comments but hear me out. Michael Jordan has been dethroned as the king of the Basketball world by not one, but two players in two distinct areas. Part two is dedicated to LeBron James, the King. By all accounts he has surpassed Michael Jordan as the new standard of basketball.
Let us be perfectly clear by no means am I suggesting that Michael Jordan is lesser than. In fact, he is the blueprint of this era. There would be no LeBron James without Michael Jordan. When we speak to greatness of his Airness we talk about the two three-peat with the Chicago bulls, never lost in the finals, the way he willed his teams to victory. For 15 seasons he put it all on the line. His career numbers were 30.1 pts, 6.2 rebs, and 5.3 asts. A slew of players came forth emulating his style to a degree looking to reach the mantle.
Rest assured I will not be using the lazy reference of G.O.A.T, I will put it out there and say LeBron James is currently tracking to surpass Michael Jordan in the key statistical categories and as a Small Forward on pace to be in the top 10 in points and assists, with strong ratings in rebounds.
The New Standard
LeBron James entered the league with enormous expectations. He was one of a long line of players who the sports analysts were looking at as the heir apparent. If you could dunk or brand yourself with the number 23 you were automatically placed in that running. Vince Carter, Jason Richardson, Danny Granger, and countless other were in that running and all fell short, LeBron held firm. His career was always viewed in terms of years and was somehow expected to take a team who couldn’t spell playoffs all the way to the Finals in year two.
Despite being self-described facilitator, he was forced into the scorer role and in 2007 he took the Cavaliers to the finals only to be swept by the Spurs. Poor Management, Lack of local support, and subpar advice from other players led to a move to Miami where LeBron began to develop further into what he is today.
What we began to realize is that LeBron had other mentors on the business side who advised him not to wait for what is there and take the opportunity when it is presented. What followed is a string of dominance that is a double-edged sword. For 15 years and counting LeBron James has been consistently dominant. No, he has not always won in the finals, but his teams have served to be formidable in all obstacles.
Lebron makes teams that would be garbage on paper a threat. He is equally a threat as a scorer as he is a facilitator and he remain in the conversation for MVP and NBA first Team well into points where his actual peers have shown true signs of decline.
We are now seeing players emulate his style play such as Anthony Davis, Lonzo Ball, and Ben Simmons.
The problem we face with LeBron James is that we continue to have the wrong conversations regarding his place with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. In today’s social media frenzy there seems to be this need force rank them, or worse, bring up senseless comparisons. You cannot seriously do it. You may prefer one over the other and that is fine, but here is what is factual.
• Michael Jordan set the world on fire and set the foundation and did what at the time was undoable for a shooting guard
• Kobe Bryant truly emulated that style and enhanced with a viciousness that is unmatched. His love for the game was represented in every fiber of his being
• LeBron James need for the game as an outlet fuels his undying desire to be better. He is creating a legacy and new standard that will be one for the ages. Players may be on teams that win more, but the established presence and dominant longevity will be one for the ages.
If we truly respect the game, we must honor the past while realizing that we have players who are drawing upon it to make it better. Failing to do so will only result in a stale product resting on the laurels of yesteryear with no evolution to call for.