When Is It Time to Just Appreciate LeBron James' Greatness?
It's a right of passage that will doubtlessly plague any well-rounded superstar from here on out.
But, to put it simply, this story is getting old.
So, too, are the tired debates about how many titles it will take to cement an otherwise brilliant legacy, who ranks as the very best player on the planet or if it's even possible for there to be another MJ. When it comes to LeBron and his place in history, we should be content to conclude this much.
There will never be another Jordan, nor will there be another James.
That doesn't mean we won't see other greats, and it doesn't even mean we won't see talent that transcends that which we've seen thus far. It just means the greatest of superstars are truly singular in their greatness.
Just as Jordan had a truly unique ability to take over the biggest of games as an unguardable scorer, James has proved capable of controlling equally important games on both ends of the floor with unmatched versatility.
We've seen LeBron lockdown perimeter scorers, and we've seen him battle in the paint like the grittiest of power forwards.
He rebounds on both ends of the floor, and no one can jump-start a fast break off a missed shot like James can. His partnership with Dwyane Wade has translated into one of the deadliest open-court pairings in league history.
And, though he hasn't become the pure shooter some might have hoped for, James remains an incredibly dynamic scorer.
His jump shot is sometimes lethal, but the scariest part of LeBron's game is that he's never needed a perfect jumper. He gets to the basket at will and either finishes easily or gets to the charity stripe. Either way, that scoring ability has been good enough to average 27.6 points over the course of his career.
No one should be surprised about the extent to which that scoring production wanes to some degree during his career with the Miami Heat.
James averaged 30 or more points twice with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and came up just short of the mark in his final season with the team. Given that the Heat have more scoring options, LeBron has been asked to spend a bit more time passing instead of shooting.
Of course, the fact that James can play the roles of leading scorer and floor general alike is an important indicator of just how unique he is.
You might expect that kind of production from an elite point guard like Derrick Rose, but you don't expect it from a 6'8" forward like LeBron. You don't expect it from the same guy who's asked to guard the other team's best scorer (regardless of what position that scorer plays).
Attempts to isolate a precedent for James have drawn comparisons to Magic Johnson's passing and Scottie Pippen's defense.
The size, strength and quickness he uses to score baskets is really without comparison altogether.
Even if James did half the things he did, he would be a deserving All-Star. But, his combined skill set makes him different.
Comparing him to others is ultimately a futile endeavor. There may be some similarities and differences, but James has carved a path all his own.
It's time we just appreciate that and enjoy the show.
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