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Relevant Simmons Rankings:
No. 5: Larry Bird
No. 4: Magic Johnson
No. 3: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
No. 2: Bill Russel
No. 1: Michael Jordan
One championship down. And it most likely looks like two to go.
LeBron James' 2012 NBA playoff performance will be up for "best ever" considerations. The Heat star averaged 30.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg, and 5.6 apg en route to both his first NBA championship and NBA Finals MVP.
James' regular season statistics are also in contention for the best of all time.
Which begs the question: if James posts performances like these for the next five years or so (he'll be 32 years old in 2017), can he be considered the best player of all time?
Most likely not. As far as NBA sports legacy is concerned, the number of championship rings won distinguishes a top three from a top five player. Magic Johnson won five championship rings, Abdul-Jabbar six, Jordan six, and Bill Russell 11.
It's also relevant how the Lakers Magic Johnson and Abdul Jabbar won their rings.
The '80s Los Angeles Lakers had to contend with two other legendary franchises on way to its five championships: the '80s Celtics (three championships) lead by Larry Bird, and the late-'80s Pistons (two championships) lead by Isiah Thomas.
It's very plausible LeBron James will win two more championship rings over the next three years while he has the benefit of playing alongside a still-excellent Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. However, these wins will not be against an established NBA dynasty like the '80s Celtics, Lakers, or Pistons.
James' chances at winning five or more rings are slim As James reaches his early 30s, he'll most likely lose the majority of his No. 2 scoring option Dwyane Wade's effectiveness.
James's game—predicated on enormous strength and athleticism—may slip as well (remember, by the time James turns 30 years old, he will have played twelve NBA seasons).
In the meantime, in the NBA's constantly changing free-agency landscape, some other team based on an array of max-contract players will develop to prevent the Heat from winning a half-a-dozen championships.
Surely, by the end of his career, James will be mentioned in the same vein as the NBA's top five of all time.
However, it's still too much of a stretch to say that "King James" will reign over this elite company of NBA players. In today's hyper active free-agent market, championship dynasties are hard to come by. There is always a new "Big Three" developing just around the pike.