And Boston Celtics president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, was surprised by the comments.
"His career's not over," Ainge said during an interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich show (h/t Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports)." "I'd just like to—why he's saying that, I don't know. Maybe he thinks that that sells. Maybe he's taking the Donald Trump approach and trying to sell himself. I don't know."
The implication by Ainge seems to be that James was making a controversial remark to drum up interest for his More Than An Athlete show on ESPN+, which is being produced by ESPN and James' UNINTERRUPTED.
It's unlikely that James will appreciate being compared to Trump, however, given how publicly critical he's been of the President and his policies.
James, at least, can make a credible argument for being great, having won three titles and four MVPs and being voted to 14 All-Star Games and 14 All-NBA first teams. Nobody's questioning that James actually handles his business.
But his comments did continue the never-ending GOAT debate between James and Michael Jordan. The argument for James has always been his ability to impact the game in all facets as both an elite scorer and facilitator, his incredible longevity and durability and the fact that he led the Cavaliers past a Warriors team that set an NBA record for most regular-season wins.
The argument for Jordan is that he won six titles in six trips to the NBA Finals, is arguably the most cold-blooded scorer and clutch finisher in league history and was also an elite defensive player.
Ainge acknowledged that James at least belongs in the GOAT discussion.
"Obviously LeBron is in every conversation with who is the greatest player of all time," he said. "But time will tell. I don't know if anyone knows who the greatest of all time is, because the years are so different."