Today is the day history will be made, something that has never been done before in the common era will happen tonight. Not the fact that the same two teams will meet for the third consecutive finals that have been covered to an extent over the week, but rather the more notable feat. LeBron James is getting to his not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, but seventh straight NBA Finals appearance, on two different teams none the less! This stat stirs the pot on the ever talked about “Who is the ‘Greatest of all time (GOAT)’ in the NBA, Jordan or LeBron?”
I listen to a lot of sports podcasts, and even though they all say that they won’t touch that subject, it always comes up, and opinions are formed. This is not one of those pieces about how you can decide who the GOAT truly is, using individual stats like points, team stats like championships, or even who has the better record in the NBA Finals. No matter where you look, there will always be some people on the “LeBron is the best ever to play” bandwagon. And for every one of those people you have another four that are of the “LeBron is a b!&$h and doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Michael,” people that still believe in the old school style of NBA. Who is right and wrong is neither here nor there (LeBron backers are correct) but this thought stands true; why do we hate LeBron?
Seriously, why do we hate him? He has never been outspoken to the media about fans, and haters, nor has he said anything negative about NBA fans or media. He has been a quality leader on and off the court, started many foundations and even helped many inner-city students get through college among other things. Why do we hate him? Is it cause he says he is the greatest player since Jordan, self-proclaiming himself the King since he came into the league? Well no, he never said that actually, that was the media hyping him up and coming up with that name. What about including himself in the top three of NBA history in an interview? Well, he never did that either sorry. What did he do? Well, he left his home city of Cleveland to play with his friends in Miami and compete in the East, man that must be it!
Well, I have some bad news for those people, he was right to leave to Miami and create the “Superteam” that they did. (Sidenote before continuing: his cockiness with the “not four, not five” speech alluded to before was not his best moment but was warranted at the time because they needed to excite a Miami fanbase that was leaning toward not liking the team. Plus it was a “pep rally type thing” for the team and its fans at the time. Context is fantastic.) I was listening to a podcast from a Fox Sports analyst on the Doug Gottlieb show, Jonas Knox was his name, and he made a great point about this move. To paraphrase a 5-minute segment, would you rather try to keep butting your head into a brick wall and hope it falls or takes another way to get around it? He related this back to LeBron by saying that LeBron left to Miami when he couldn’t beat the Celtics by himself, James realized he needed help, so he got it. Why try to beat the Celtics with little to no help when he knows he couldn’t do it? Why not just go somewhere that promises to help and not just ram your head into the wall some more?
LeBron was an innovator at seeing how he can get around obstacles, yet people killed him for it. “You need help getting past the Celtics huh LeBaby?” Well duh. LeBron is great, but when there are three other superstars, at the time, on the other team, he can’t compete with them alone. Dan Gilbert showed no promise of helping find other players near LeBron’s level, unlike Pat Riley, or even hiring qualified coaches and surrounding him with winners like Riley either. Yes, Gilbert brought in some big names, like Shaq, but they were brought in well after their primes.
“Well, but Jordan didn’t need that much help to win!” Wrong. Jordan had Scottie Pippen another top 25 players in his prime, Steve Kerr, an excellent three-point shooter and one of the most clutch players to play, Dennis Rodman, the best defender of his time, and some lesser known players like Luc Longley, Ron Harper, among 38 others. My point is that during either three-peat Jordan had a big three, like LeBron.
“Well, Jordan never had to leave Chicago to win championships!” First look back to two points ago, he didn’t have the help nor willingness to get help from ownership. LeBron was still a rising star at the time he left, and his main drawback was that he didn’t have a title and only made one NBA Finals. He had to make Cleveland a destination spot for free agent help, the Browns and other professional sports teams didn’t help, he had to prove he could win a title. So he did. Then he came back, got some help in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and brought some smaller pieces, like James Jones and Mike Miller, to help show the young team how to win. Now Cleveland is a prime destination for free agents that are ring chasing, and don’t care about the money, as long as LeBron is playing, did Jordan ever do that?
The point of this article is plainly not to compare Jordan and LeBron, but rather try to answer the questions that LeBron haters bring up in the GOAT argument. Will LeBron ever pass Jordan as the GOAT? Yes, of course, that will not be determined until LeBron retires with could be another 10 years possibly. Are the Jordan backers, and LeBron haters considering some of what Jordan did when making statements about LeBron? No, LeBron openly stated that he is following Jordan’s career path and that he shaped his image on the court by MJ (which is a great quote if you haven’t seen it already).
I wrote this to try to answer the question “Why do we hate LeBron?” And the real answer to that is, we don’t. We hate the media that covers him. They are hyping him up and trying to start an argument between two fanbases and try to start a fire under both of them. And it is working; we don’t hate LeBron, we hate the people that trigger the opposite side of what we think. Just wait until LeBron’s career is over and this argument can be much more cohesive, and everyone can finally see that LeBron is the GOAT.