Comparisons are unavoidable, sure, but they shouldn’t be used to define a player. LeBron James is his own player
Let me start with a disclaimer: I was never a LeBron James fan, at least not until he became a Los Angeles Laker.
As a die-hard Lakers and Kobe Bryant fan, it was almost like I was forced to root for LeBron simply because he became a Laker in 2018. This meant every triple double LeBron earned was something I had to celebrate, especially if he was leading the Lakers to victory.
But while I was in the process of rooting for LeBron to turn the whole Lakers franchise around, I realized that he was more than just a superstar—one of the greatest, if not the greatest, to ever play the game. I know the term “legend” is always casually thrown around (especially in sports), but as a longtime basketball fan, I can say that I’ve never seen a player quite like LeBron.
I may be biased since I never really got to witness Michael Jordan’s peak years (yes, I know I missed out) but I have yet to watch, hear, or even read about an athlete that can shatter expectations on and off the court the way LeBron has done.
LeBron is a true leader who brings out the best in his teammates. He’s a four-time MVP who’s made it to the finals nine times and won three championships. The King continues to dominate the statistical leaderboard and his achievements only continue to pile up. On Jan.13, he passed Isaiah Thomas for eighth in all-time assists and is the only active player (as of writing) in the top five of the all-time scoring list with 33,513 points.
Off the court, he’s a political activist, a philanthropist, and someone who continues to inspire people around the world. What makes him so great is not just the amount of achievements in his resume or his ability to take over a game but how he’s shaped and influenced basketball for the past 17 years now.
Let LeBron James be LeBron James
Despite all that LeBron has achieved, he’s still criticized on a regular basis—which is normal for every generational type of player. But just look at Fox Sports’s reporter Skip Bayless’ Twitter and you’ll get a preview of how much smack LeBron gets every day. The King has always received flak for his inability to deliver in clutch and stat padding; some people even call him a traitor. The list goes on.
These criticisms are likely rooted in the fact that what LeBron has done (transfer from one team to another) is something Jordan or even Magic Johnson would never do at their prime. It’s easy to understand why a lot of people compare LeBron with basketball greats like Jordan, Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Comparisons are unavoidable, sure, but they shouldn’t be used to define a player. LeBron is his own player. Nitpicking every little flaw or dwelling on the differences between him and Jordan will only hinder us from appreciating basketball greatness.
Take it from someone who only learned to appreciate LeBron in the past two years. I grew up rooting for Kobe Bryant, thinking that LeBron was an antagonist for dethroning Bryant as the best basketball player in 2011. Because of this, I didn’t get to appreciate 15 years of LeBron’s historic career.
Appreciate basketball greatness
We’re now witnessing the latter part of LeBron’s career. That said, it seems as if the King can still suit up for a couple more years—but then again basketball is unpredictable, especially given the fact that no one can defeat father time. The best we can do now as basketball fans is to savor every chapter left in LeBron’s storied career.
It’s even possible that his career is only about to take its best turns yet. He’s currently an MVP candidate averaging 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 assists per game playing alongside Anthony Davis on a championship-caliber team. We’re not sure what’s going to happen in June or even in the next couple of years, but what we do know is that LeBron’s career is closer to the end than the beginning. So it’s only right that we start appreciating greatness while we still have it.
After all, e don’t know when we’ll ever see a player like LeBron again.