Author – Marcus Holguin
In the summer of 2003 the world was introduced to a basketball prodigy from Akron, Ohio. This 18 year old phenom was known to the world then as Lebron James. Today, however, he is more commonly known as “The King” or “The GOAT”. Drafted 1st overall by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, Lebron James was billed as the “next Kobe Bryant” and perhaps even “the next Michael Jordan”. Lebron James has exceeded those meaningless comparisons and cemented his own legacy into the history books. Four NBA MVP’s, three NBA titles with three NBA Finals MVP’s, two Gold Medals, 11 NBA First Team selections, and a 13-time NBA All-Star are simply scratching the surface when it comes to James’ accolades. Not to mention, James has now starred in 7 straight NBA Finals (2010-2017), as well as tying Magic Johnson’s NBA Finals record of 8 recorded triple-doubles.
James was once the renowned villain of the NBA after bolting to Miami to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in the first instance of the modern day “super teams”. After an arrogant and ignorant introductory charade where James proclaimed the now infamous “not 1, not 2, not 3..” Championship guarantee, it seemed the Benedict Arnold treatment would suffice James’ newfound character. However, after winning his 2nd title in his first 3 years in Miami, the vilifying of James seemed to come to a screeching halt. The public started to embrace the greatness that had been on display in 3 straight NBA Finals. The following year in a disappointing Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs and an emerging superstar in Kawhi Leonard, James decided to make things right by returning to the team that was getting over a 4 year tumultuous breakup with The King.
Yes, Lebron decided to return home in a move that shocked the basketball world once again. This time, James would once again play team GM and team up with a rising stud in Kyrie Irving and the double-double machine Kevin Love who was acquired via trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. After a dominating regular season that transitioned into a dominating post season, James found himself shouldering the load by himself in the NBA Finals once again. An injury to Love in the first round of the playoffs and an injury to Irving in Game 1 of the Finals, it was time for James to show the world why many had already considered him the Greatest of All Time. The King became the FIRST PLAYER EVER to lead both teams in points, rebounds, and assists in NBA Finals history, in a losing effort to the Golden State Warriors. LeBron James basically played the Warriors by himself that series, considering the second most talked about Cavs player was an unknown Matthew Delavedova. Fast forward a year later in a highly anticipated NBA Finals rematch, Lebron James brought the city of Cleveland the championship he promised to deliver a year prior. In one of the greatest NBA Finals series’ ever, Lebron and the Cavs overcame a 3-1 game deficit to defeat the Dubs in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. With 1:51 left in a 89 a piece championship ball game, Lebron James would chase down Andre Igoudala in what is now known as the “block heard ‘round the world” and one of the most clutch plays in NBA history. The King would later ice the cake as he would make the game winning free-throw with 10 seconds left on the clock to complete the greatest NBA Finals comeback in history. As the final buzzer sounded, James collapsed on the floor and wept. Love him or hate him, the basketball fan could not help but appreciate what the world had just witnessed. Blood, sweat, and tears had been poured for the city of Cleveland and basketball fans worldwide. As an emotional James was being interviewed by ESPN’s Doris Burke he shouted “Cleveland, this is for you” delivering on his promise to the city of Cleveland who had been without a title for 52 years.
As the world would await the decision of the consensus number 2 player in the world, Kevin Durant, the basketball world wondered what it would take to stop Lebron James who was determined to repeat as champion. The world would soon get their answer as Durant would jump from OKC to a 73 win Warriors team to chase his first NBA title. As I sat and pondered to myself last summer why Durant would opt to go this route, the overwhelming answer was clear; this was the only way to stop Lebron James. Durant and the Dubs would prove successful in their attempt to dethrone The King this past summer as Lebron and the Cavs would fall in the NBA Finals by a 4-1 deficit. Now, as one might try to compare the departure of James from the Cavs to Miami to the shocking move of Kevin Durant, my only rebuttal to that statement is don’t kid yourself. James would join a 47-35 Heat team that was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs the year prior. As history would show the arrival of James, with an unproven centerpiece of Chris Bosh, James would lead the charge behind the 4 consecutive Finals appearances. Durant opted to join a record holding 73 win team with 3 all stars including the 2 time MVP Stephen Curry. The comparison is laughable and ridiculous.
If you’re still scoffing while reading this then I am sorry. I am sorry that you are not able to differentiate the meanings behind greatness and greatest of all time. As a die hard Lakers fans it pains me to truly say that my hero Kobe Bryant was not on the level that Lebron has been on for the better part of 12 years now. LeBron James is not the MJ of our era. He is the LBJ of our era. Furthermore, he is the Greatest Basketball Player of All Time. We have all been witnesses.