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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Pursuit of immortality

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LEBRON JAMES’S breaking of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time National Basketball Association (NBA) scoring record is simply an amazing feat. A feat that keeps him within striking distance–in my opinion—as the Greatest of All Time (GOAT).

That title is perhaps what he desires and will cherish the most.

Just to put this on the table… I have been a fan of James since he hit the NBA in 2003. And just to be very clear, I am a fan of Michael Jordan’s as well. And I remain in my belief that Jordan is the GOAT.

But … here we go.

I am wondering…at the time that Bill Russell was leading the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA titles, he was up against Wilt Chamberlain.

Chamberlain was Jordan and James rolled into one—prodigious scoring and stats as well as larger-than-life feats.

Since I wasn’t around during that time…was Chamberlain that era’s James and Russell that era’s Jordan?

Was Wilt ever proclaimed as the GOAT even during that era?

Russell is definitely feted as the ultimate winner. After all, he has more championship rings than fingers.

I have always thought that Bill Russell (and there is this awesome documentary on him right now on Netflix) should be on the Mount Rushmore of NBA basketball. To argue the merits and demerits of his being GOAT is altogether another long piece. My column today is wondering and comparing those days when Russ and Wilt went at each other. And today—MJ and the King—on the debate board.

And it is a never-ending debate.

If The Last Dance was a message—no, a strong reminder—to millennials and Gen Z about the force of nature that Jordan was, I can image that in a decade, a documentary about LeBron James will intensify that debate.

I’ll say this though, LeBron James is playing at such a high level given his age. I think he can go for another year or two. I see no decline. He is such a freak; even more than Giannis Antetokounmpo.

So do all these stats and records qualify James?

What makes Tom Brady the National Football League’s GOAT? It’s not just his stats, but his SEVEN Super Bowl rings.

So if Brady has seven rings, why isn’t Russell the GOAT?

Because he played in an era when there were far less games and rounds especially in the postseason? When his Boston Celtics were stacked and loaded right to the 12th man? And other teams weren’t?

Robert Horry has seven rings, but no one will suggest he is the greatest.

It is a combination of lots of rings, how he won them, and stats.

I do agree with the assertion that James won his titles by looking to play with All-Stars who were at the top of their games.

Everyone says Jordan played with four Hall-of-Famers in Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Toni Kukoc.

Pippen was at that time acknowledged as one of the world’s best. He was on the Dream Team after all. When Rodman joined the Chicago Bulls, no one knew what Rodman would show up—one who helped Detroit to two NBA titles? Or the one who torpedoed the San Antonio Spurs of David Robinson? It is in the aftermath that Rodman was only considered as an all-time great.

It is the same for Toni Kukoc. While I am a Kukoc fan, I think he got into the Basketball Hall of Fame for his work in Europe with his contributions to the Chicago Bulls secondary.

Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Anthony Davis were all certainly on top of their games when they were teammates with James. All-Stars and Olympians and you kinda knew these guys are upper tier players who will end up in the Naismith Museum.

If LeBron had as many as six NBA titles, I would—and this coming from a massive Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan fan—give him that mantle of GOAT. Even if he has all these losses in the finals.

I will not count out LeBron winning another title. He could. Maybe not this year. But he could.

Even after taking the scoring record from Abdul-Jabbar, this debate will not end. Not even after James calls it quits. I think, a decade from now, people will look at James in a different light.

Now, whether he seizes that GOAT title from Jordan, is another thing.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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