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Get in your time machine and warp ahead 10 years into the future. When you emerge in 2024, we'll be ready to talk about the new version of the NBA Mount Rushmore.
***Emerging in 2024 and hearing the sounds of other people popping out of their time machines***
All right, glad you could join me. Now let's get back to business.
A decade ago, it was Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Bill Russell who occupied the four spots on the NBA Mount Rushmore. But unfortunately, the monument has been defaced, and we have to build a new one. That's why you're here.
In a way, it's a positive, because we get to update it with new faces, assuming that's necessary.
Right off the bat, Jordan and Russell are safe. The former is such an obvious choice, and the latter continues to boast an impeccable resume. Between his championships and his impact on the Association, it'll take an awful lot to displace him.
Now sacrilegious as it may seem, we're going to have to consider removing Magic and Bird. Ten years ago, that may have been an impossible thing to do, but we're in the future now.
LeBron has to have a spot, after all. And even though he suggested as much in the prescient interview with NBA TV from 2014, we're not going to add a fifth spot.
He was already close a decade ago, and it only took one more title and a normal career path over the time we skipped for him to become an easy choice. In fact, you might consider putting him on that untouchable level that Jordan still occupies.
So that means one of Bird and Magic must be removed, but is the other safe?
Durant is now 35 years old, and his career is coming to a close. Although he might stick around for a few more seasons, he was never able to turn the Oklahoma City Thunder into a dynastic organization. Even a couple titles aren't quite going to do the trick, because he doesn't have the same legacy aspect that Bird and Magic have on their side.
He wasn't the face of the league for long enough, thanks to LeBron. And he entered the league while it was already insanely popular, so there wasn't all that much he could do to improve it.
No one else—Anthony Davis, Paul George, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Thon Maker, etc.—is far enough along in their respective careers to deserve a spot on the NBA Mount Rushmore, so we're left removing one face and replacing it with LeBron's.
And yes, we'll be nice about his hairline.
In my humble opinion, it's Bird whom he knocks off. But as has always been the case, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are so intertwined in history that it's more of a personal choice than anything else.
Only that one change needs to be made, and it leaves us with Jordan, Russell, LeBron and Magic making up the 2024 NBA Mount Rushmore.
As for 2034? Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.