The media has labeled him as “A King without a Crown."
Some media outlets have gone as far as to say that he cannot hold a candle next to NBA greats such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Kobe Bryant. These statements are made because LeBron James lacks the rings, which causes people to assume that he also lacks the statistics and talent.
However, if people put all bias and unreasonable doubts aside, it is clear that LeBron is not only on the same level as those supposed NBA greats, but in given time, he might go down in history as the Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T).
After the Cleveland Cavaliers missed the NBA Finals two years in a row, there was much talk of LeBron leaving his hometown team after his contract ended.
Unfortunately, that rumor became reality.
As of July 1, LeBron became one of the biggest, most-wanted free agents in NBA history. After his last game as a Cavalier, LeBron stripped off his jersey before entering the locker room and later in the press conference stated that “you have to go through a lot of nightmares before you reach your dream”…and his one dream is winning championships.
With that said, he has been referred to as a king without a crown for one reason: lack of a championship ring.
Comparing LeBron to those who have rings is unfair though.
Many claim that he needs to have several rings before being considered in the same category as other greats. If having a championship ring means you are one of the organization’s best, then excuse the humor in this logic: having a ring means you are one of the best -> Ron Artest has a ring -> therefore, Ron Artest is one of the best (even better than LeBron).
Likewise, when somebody asks, “who won the 2010 NBA Finals,” a typical answer is always in reference to the team that won.
For example: “The Los Angeles Lakers won the 2010 NBA Finals.” A specific player’s name is never mentioned. The team, as a whole, wins a championship…not a player. LeBron’s lack of a ring does not mean he cannot be mentioned as one of the best; it simply means that he was not with the best franchise.
Many true LeBron fans were ecstatic about the decision. Believing that this franchise would do LeBron well and get him the ring he has been striving to get and deserves.
However, many, especially Cleveland fans, thought this was a cowardly decision made by their former hero. Those opposed to the decision claim that it was a mistake and it would ruin his legacy. The biggest argument involving his new decision asserts that LeBron needs Wade to win a championship—and this, more than anything, will supposedly give LeBron the title as a failed talent.
Most of the greats who have achieved championship status did not do it alone; they had a well-rounded team.
More importantly, they had players who played the game just as hard and well as they did.
In comparison, Kobe did not win a title in his first three pro seasons. Following, he was on three consecutive championship teams from 2000-02. That happened when Phil Jackson was hired as coach and found a way to mesh Bryant with Shaquille O’Neal.
It was only in 2009 and 2010 that Bryant could claim a title without O’Neal; those were Bryant’s 13th and 14th years in the NBA, respectively. Now Kobe has Pau Gasol to assist him with carrying the team.
Celtic’s Larry Bird won three titles, and did it with two Hall of Famers as teammates—Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. His last two title teams also had Dennis Johnson, who should be in the Hall of Fame. Likewise, Magic Johnson won five titles, all with the Lakers and all with center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, perhaps one of the 10 greatest ever to play in the NBA. Johnson also won three of those titles with Hall of Famer James Worthy as a teammate.
The list goes on, but one fact remains the same: nothing was accomplished alone for any of these champions.
As of recently, much of the media hype has also mentioned that LeBron is running out of time and if he is going to get a ring, he needs to do it soon, especially if he wants to “be like Mike.”
On the contrary, LeBron’s time is far from running out; he is only 25 years old. People forget it took Jordan seven years to win his first title at the age of 28. Or that it was not until Jordan’s fourth season that his Chicago Bulls finally won a playoff series.
In comparison, LeBron is basically reliving Jordan’s life.
For starters, Jordan was the third pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. He joined a Bulls team that was 27-55 and that had only been to the playoffs once in the previous seven years. LeBron was the top pick in the 2003 draft, coming to a Cavs team that was worse than those pre-Jordan Bulls, with a record of 17-65. Those Cavs had only been to the playoffs once in the previous seven years, too.
In Jordan’s rookie season, however, the Bulls improved from 27 to 38 victories, losing in the first round of the playoffs.
As a rookie, LeBron took the Cavs from 17 to 35 victories, missing the playoffs. Furthermore, in his second season, LeBron took the Cavs from 34 to 42 wins, missing the playoffs. Jordan sat out for 65 games due to a broken foot during his second season. The Bulls dropped from 38 to 30 wins, and made the playoffs—without Jordan.
Skip ahead to each of their fourth seasons.
LeBron led the Cavs to a 50-32 record. They advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. Comparatively, in Jordan’s fourth season, the Bulls finally won 50 games. They lost to the Detroit Pistons in the second round.
Fast-forward some more.
By Jordan’s seventh season, not a single player remained on the Bulls’ roster from his rookie year. Not even the coach remained the same; now Jordan had Phil Jackson. He would help coach the Bulls to five more championships during his time as coach. Michael had to go through a lot of players and coaches to find the right combination to achieve stardom.
LeBron has not been as fortunate with the Cavaliers’ franchise over the past several years.
Another argument being made against LeBron and his talent, or lack thereof, is that he has chosen to run from his original team. Even more so, he is leaving the hometown in which he took so much pride in when entering the draft.
This foreseen dart out of Ohio is now being used as an excuse for people to bash LeBron’s name and talent. They are deeming him as a lazy player for not wanting to stick it out with his team and work harder than most at getting a championship.
For those who think it may tarnish his legacy for leaving his original team, they are completely wrong and out of line. Although it is extremely difficult to convince others that LeBron is equal, or even better than some of the great champions, there are plenty of self-achieved awards that can do him justice.
LeBron holds many records and stats that praise his name and raise the bar for other NBA players.
The stats that he has acquired so far in his career are not only found rarely in the NBA among few players, but it also proves that he is a well-rounded player.
For instance, LeBron is one of four players in NBA history to lead their teams in all five major statistical categories (total points, total rebounds, total assists, total blocks, and total steals) in a season. The others were Dave Cowens with the Boston Celtics, Scottie Pippen with the Chicago Bulls, and Kevin Garnett with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird have missed this mark. To lead in all five major categories is a big ordeal, especially when he was the player that helped the team make its first finals appearance in franchise history. LeBron was immediately looked to for leadership and guidance due to such success.
However, receiving guidance from LeBron was not difficult for the team.
LeBron is also one of five players in NBA history to average more than 25 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists in a season. The others are Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. LeBron accomplished this for his first time in just his second season.
Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant have also failed to meet such standards.
LeBron James is the youngest player to record a triple-double. He had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He was also the youngest NBA player ever to score 30 points, 40 points, and 50 points in a game. The youngest player to reach 1,000 points, 5,000 points, 10,000 points and also 15,000 points is LeBron James.
Not only can LeBron hold is own in scoring, he has been able to guide and assist others in doing so, too.
Understanding the importance of assists in the game and being selfless enough to put the team’s best interest on the priorities makes a player that much better. Sure, players like Kobe can still win and score big without averaging more than five assists per game, but what sense of accomplishment does that serve?
If anything it proves who is in it for themselves to go down in history as big-headed, ball-hog, scoring stars. Thankfully, the NBA still has those who are in it to win and celebrate teamwork, as seen in LeBron. Playing as a team, makes any player that much better and well-rounded.
Despite the lack of a championship ring it is visible through comparison that LeBron is on the track to being like Michael Jordan and receiving his share of rings.
Additionally, LeBron has done things to be perceived as a modern day hero. He not only helps himself in achieving greatness, but he is selfless and puts those of his team and his franchise on the same priority list.
Likewise, he also puts his fans on that same priority list by participating and working with the media as often as possible. Put aside all unreasonable doubts and negative hype that some of the media have contributed to LeBron as an athlete and he will begin to be seen and respected as one of the best. He will be given the chance to go down in history as the G.O.A.T.
Prepare yourselves, history is in the making. We are all witnesses.
There is no doubt in my mind that with the right franchise LeBron will be given his ring… and crown.
All hail King James.