I understand what some people are thinking when they first read this headline.
You're thinking, "Overreaction." You're thinking, "LeBron James is only 26 years old, he's in the prime of his career." You're thinking he'll still win multiple championships.
Well, my answer to those thoughts are no, yes and most likely, yes.
This is not an overreaction to LeBron James posting by far the worst plus/minus rating (-24) in the series-clinching Game 6 that saw him yet again be a no-show in the fourth quarter.
This isn't an overreaction to LBJ having the biggest drop-off ever for a star player in the prime of his career from a regular season to an NBA Finals.
This is simply a fact that LeBron James will never be considered the greatest of all time (GOAT).
When you look at who is widely considered the GOAT, the choice is Michael Jordan. You already know the obvious accolades: six titles, six Finals MVP's, five regular-season MVP's, highest scoring average in postseason and regular season play, etc.
Jordan never lost a Finals. LBJ is already 0-2.
There are several other reasons why LeBron will never be considered the GOAT though.
First of all, yes he's only 26 years old. He will probably win multiple championships—maybe even rack up a couple more MVP's along the way—and will obviously continue putting up the consistent 26-7-7 numbers he's been consistently putting up the past seven years.
It still won't matter though because the Heat will always be Wade's team. This series showed that, and this series cemented that fact.
The Heat will continue being the team to beat in the East for at least the next three seasons the Big Three are together. But when the Finals come around, the Heat's go-to guy in the fourth quarter and close games will continue to be Dwyane Wade.
Compare this to the L.A. Lakers of the early 2000's. When you hear Lakers fans defending Kobe's role on those teams, you always hear Kobe Bryant was the player who lifted the Lakers to victory against those tough Western Conference opponents before the NBA Finals. When the time came for the Lakers to win those NBA championships in the NBA Finals though, it was Shaq who shined brightest and won all three Finals MVP's.
Nobody cares that Kobe played well before the NBA Finals—they only look at the Finals MVP trophies. Shaq won all three, and Kobe doesn't get any credit for three of his five championships when it comes to his legacy.
The same rule applies for the Wade/LeBron duo we see today.
LeBron could win the next three championships, but he'll never be the true closer. Like Kobe Bryant in his first three championships, LeBron will never get the same credit for his championships like MJ got for all six of his.
As long as the Big Three are together, LeBron will always be the Scottie Pippen to Dwyane Wade's Michael Jordan.
Aside from that, LeBron just doesn't have the mental drive to be the best of all time.
Could this mentality/image of LBJ crumbling under pressure change? Of course—look at what Dirk just did.
But how many players have been able to do that? It's easier said than done.
This goes beyond the game of basketball. It's a psychological issue. You either have a killer instinct or you don't; and you can't just flip it on and off like a switch.
You either have the drive to be great or you don't.
LBJ has as much talent, if not more, than anyone who has ever played the game of basketball. The problem lies in his mental makeup. He's more concerned with being a marketeer—the world's first billionaire athlete—rather than being the GOAT.
This is where players like MJ, Kobe, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson differ from guys like LeBron.
LeBron also never looks at himself in the mirror and admits his shortcomings; the press conference after Game 6 exhibited this. He continues saying he, "tried as hard as he could."
When was the last time you saw him say, "I need to get better," after a loss?
What do you think Dirk has been doing the past 13 years? Getting better and adding new skills to his already heavy repertoire. Has LeBron even developed a post game that takes advantage of his 6'8", 260-pound frame?
Pair all of this with the public backlash in the past year due to The Decision and several other juvenile incidents; LeBron will never be seen as mythical a figure as Jordan.
When people talk about Jordan, they talk about him as if he's a god—as if he never missed a shot, as if he never lost, as if he never did anything wrong.
They don't bring up how he decked Steve Kerr in practice, was seen as a ball hog all throughout the 1980's and the Bulls' success their first season without him.
Regardless of all those things, most people who talk about Jordan are basketball fans today because of him. They witnessed him when they were children (myself included), thus letting nostalgia cloud their judgment and make them believe he was perfect.
Regardless of how many championships LeBron wins, how many records he breaks, how good his stats are, he will never receive the same public treatment Jordan received.
He already added fuel to the fire with his comments last night about "his life" and "regular people's lives." He already kissed away his public reputation with The Decision, and he has kissed away—for now—his on-court reputation with his pitiful NBA Finals performance.
Jordan was beloved by fans from the moment he stepped on an NBA court. The majority of people already dislike LeBron. He is the NBA's villain, and anyone who faces him is seen as a hero.
LeBron James will go down as a top-10 player all time. He will probably win a championship, maybe even several championships. But he will never be seen as the GOAT, and he will never be considered better than Michael Jordan.
This past year has crushed any chance of that happening.