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Best in the NBA? LeBron leaving no doubt

Rico Albarracin February 14, 2013 Around the NBA 38 Comments

So, as a collective audience, can we finally appreciate the greatness that we are experiencing with LeBron James? When are we gonna stop with the charade of who’s the best player in the league when the answer is obvious?

After the Miami Heat defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 117-104 on Tuesday night, James put himselfdoubt into an exclusive club; himself. By scoring 30 points, James became the first player to score 30 points and shoot, at least, 60 percent from the field, eclipsing the previous five-game record held by Moses Malone and Adrian Dantley. In a year in which James has won NBA MVP, his first championship, Finals MVP, a gold medal and scoring his 20,000th point, the record is just the latest in accomplishments for James, who is gaining all sorts of comparisons with Michael Jordan.

The comparison is unfair. Why? We can compare stats, like how each player is an efficient scorer, have excellent Player Efficiency Ratings and have pantheon-level scoring averages, but that would be a disservice to both players. We’ve never seen anyone like James in the league before. We’ve had guys like Jordan, before there was a Jordan. Julius Erving carried the crown of an elite wing player before Jordan and Kobe Bryant has tried to replicate Jordan’s career since Jordan left the game. Name someone who was James before he was. You can’t. James is a basketball savant. He can score from just about anywhere on the floor, has an uncanny court vision and can be, at times, a defensive monster. His size, speed and athleticism is unmatched by any player in history. I don’t think it can be said better than by the king himself. In a tweet after the victory against the Trailblazers, James let people know his thoughts on the comparisons by posting “I’m not MJ, I’m LJ.” He’s correct.

One thing that should be compared is the appreciation shown to a great player in their primes, not the players themselves. Both Jordan and James had to endure the stigma of not being great in some people’s eyes because they had yet to win a title. It took a championship to finally show people that Jordan was great and the same can be said for James. But we, as a fanbase, don’t do that. We want to validate the present by overwriting the past. Why is there this fascination with comparing every great player with Jordan, even if their games are nothing alike? Are we so desperate to dethrone Jordan as the “greatest player of all-time” for the sake of giving current players meaning in the history of the game? The goal should not be to crown a player the next (fill in the blank), but appreciate the history they create in front of us. Instead of comparing two players from different eras, let’s stick to the present and mention a player who is garnering MVP consideration along with James; Kevin Durant.

Now I am not saying that James and Durant are on the same level. James is a superior defender and is just entering his prime. Durant, on the other hand, is a fantastic scorer and is doing things that haven’t been seen in years. On course to win his fourth consecutive scoring title, Durant is on pace to become the first player to lead the NBA in scoring while joining the exclusive 50-40-90 club. Durant is doing this while averaging a career high in Field Goal percentage (52%), 3-point FG percentage (43%), Free-Throw percentage (90.4), assists (4.4), steals (1.6) and blocks (1.2). The level in which Durant has brought his game up is incredible. It’s the reason that Durant is in the conversation for MVP.

That brings us to tonight. The Heat will visit the Oklahoma City Thunder in a rematch of the Christmas Day match-up in which Miami got the best of the Thunder 103-97. Although it may be a game in mid-February, just before the All-Star break, which could mean nothing. At the same time, it can mean so much. Will the Heat sweep the season series? The Thunder can do themselves a huge service by winning a game against the team that they have lost five straight games to. Also, the win could be a confidence builder for a team looking to make it over the final hurdle to a championship with a win over the defending champions. We could look at the past to tell us about this match-up or look to what this game could mean for the future. Instead, let us just enjoy it.

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  • KGino

    No love for lebron, if he was humble about it fans wouldn’t hate his guts. I acknowledge that he is the best basketball player on the planet, but the guy is a complete jerkoff and will never have my appreciation for the way he carries/carried himself.

    • Steph

      AGREED !

      • LAF

        Agreed again!

        Comparing “LJ” to MJ kinda like comparing Dirk to Bird. They’re great players no doubt. But there will never ever be another MJ. Let’s see what this prick does for the rest of his career before judging his place in the pantheon.

    • eddysamson

      I used to hate Lebron’s guts even before ‘The Decision’ but shit man I dunno how or why but I am starting to like him…

      I started feeling that last year in the ECF, mainly I was just in awe at his skills. But this year I’ve actually been starting to like him more as a player.

      I mean lets be real, since he joined the Heat who has been the bigger ass-clown…Wade or Lebron? The answer is clearly Wade. Hes been playing like a punk bitch ever since Lebron and Bosh joined.

      Where Celtics vs Heat is concerned, Lebron has always said great things about the Celtics. I’m sure Wade has too, but it always comes with knocking on someone like Rondo (like calling Rondo a punk for the first game of the season shit that went down when ONLY Wade was the one acting like a punk)

      I think the one thing that pisses me off about Lebron is nothing that is his fault…its just how the refs treat him. Like hes some untouchable saint. Maybe his FG% is so high because everyone is scared to guard him closely?

      • eddysamson

        Oops meant to say ‘like him more as a PERSON’ not player

  • thetruth

    This is horribly written. Why?

    • p funk

      Disagree. I thought it was a good piece although i don’t necesarily agree with the viewpoint. Your comment was in bad taste. Why?

      • thetruth

        Maybe. Articles on here are usually written without significant errors. This is almost unreadable. It’s a disappointing drop in quality.

  • The bob

    Lebron is a great player. I think we’ve all known that for a long time, but the hype is out of control. This whole Jordan comparison is ridiculous. MJ proved he was better than the russels, Kareems, birds, & magics of the world. Why do we assume lebron is better than these guys to be in the mj conversation. In fact I think Duncan in his prime was better than lebron’s ever been. Just bc he colluded w 2 other guys & went to the heat & has the best #2 in the league (who really should be the star of his own contender), we have to crown this guy as goat after winning a title w stacked talent. Imagine if prime Duncan played w pierce or Prime kg played w Jason Kidd or Hakeem w Clyde drexler. How many titles would they win, would they be in the goat conversation? Lebron could have joined many other teams & excellent players, but he chose to join another alltime great. So his p$ssy decision means we’ll never get to see if he could lead a team to a title w/o stacking the deck.

  • OV Wright

    AGREED. The conversation always gets skewed solely because of the awe of Lebron’s physical prowess…people conflate this with greatness because they see things from Lebron athletically that they’ve never seen before…I used to be a big Lebron fan while he was in Cleveland. He brought that team up against the Spurs in 2007 by himself and it was pretty amazing. That team was awful. I used to argue with my roommate in college about Lebron being better than DWade (roommate was from MIA)…I gave Lebron more credit than DWade because Wade had Shaq in what could have been an MVP season for Shaq…But my admiration for Lebron came to an abrupt halt when he played us in the playoffs in 2010. LEBRON QUIT ON HIS TEAM. There were upwards of 2 minutes left in the game with the cavs down by 9…The game was definitely within reach for the cavs. Lebron quit on his team in a closeout game in the PLAYOFFS. Go back and look at the clips on youtube and you’ll see Mike Brown losing his mind on the sidelines, trying to get the team to finish the game strong…but poor Lebron is less than interested and the rest of the team just said “F**k it” since “King” James already conceded.. No sooner did the game end did Lebron take off his jersey..and we all know what happened after that…He took the easy way out and joined up with two All-Stars, one of whom should have been one of Lebron’s greatest rivals in DWade..MJ was the greatest because he beat the greats of his era, he didnt team up with them. All these “analysts” and “experts” always conveniently leave this tidbit out when discussing Lebron’s greatness/legacy. I dont think anyone can ever say MJ or Kobe QUIT on their teams in the PLAYOFFS

  • Hhyfhj

    Back I. The day(1940-2000) players stayed on one team there entire carrer the teams were built theough the draft, trade, and veteran free agents. No one jumped teams in their primes. You drafted your star and built around them. Imagine if Jordan and magic joined the 80s celtics
    They would’ve won ten or more titles
    When the 07-08 celts built their team they had peirce their franchise player. They needed help, they traded for 2 stars in their 30 s who’s teams were losing. That is how you should build a superteam. I like what the raps did also they had 2 players with great potentiol in derozen and Lowry but they traded for gay. That is how it should be done. If the team is repeatedly losing season after season then their stars have every right to leave but 1st they need to give the team a chance to build around them. The cavs were getting 50 win seasons every season. They were a good team because they have lebron. They made it to the finals and lebron should’ve called up a few aging vets that wanted a championship like Chauncey. Or an unwanted star like amare or even Chris bosh who couldn’t carry the team by himself in Toronto and asked them to come to Cleveland and play for a championship. But no, he got greedy and saw an oppertunity to create a dynasty and turned traitor. He left his team because of greed. The great players that this league has seen has been the franchise player for ONE team. Did Jordan, bird wilt russel magic or Irving leave their team in their prime? Loyalty is what makes a player great, along with talentvand championships. that is why I don’t consider lebron in that catagory. Even when he went to Miami it took him 2 tries to win a champ. He is not a great player, he is a cheating asshole who can’t do anything on his own

  • Eddie Allen Powe

    Why post this here?? This is some John Barry, Mike Breen, Jalen Rose poll riding.

    • $tephanie

      I agree..why in the HELL do we need an article about Lebron’s greatness on a Celtics site? Do you think a Heat blog would spend time clamoring over KG or PP?

      He’s playing at an AMAZING level right now, but he doesn’t need a full spread article about it HERE.

    • Spike

      Yeah! An article about the biggest roadblock to banner 18 in the next 5 years (at least!) has NO PLACE IN MY GREEN BLOG LALALANOTPAYINGATTENTIONTOTHERESTOFTHELEAGUELALALA

  • boston2343

    Redsarmy is losing credibility by posting this piece! This is not a Heat blog, why post this? Most Celtics fans hates Lebron and Miami. Please delete this piece.

    • Chuck – Red’s Army

      A blog about non-Celtics news is harmless. I wish we had the manpower to write about the NBA more.

  • boston2343

    I think RedsArmy is getting paid for this, NBA wants it to trend to hype Lebron. this is a Marketing ploy.

    • Chuck – Red’s Army

      We are? Where’s my check then!

  • verde

    there was not an mj before mj.

  • Astarot

    Yeah I don’t know why do we need this article here. But to the point. Lebron is a great player no doubt and I won’t say what kind of a person he is cuz a – I don’t know him and b- I don’t care. Personally I think Durant is a better player but in both Lebron and Durant case sayin that one of them is better than Jordan is at least for today not true. Why? Look how many rings Jordan has. In my opinion no matter how great you are, titles are the most important. How many players from the past are considered to be great but if someone doesn’t have a ring (or has only one) he can’t be among the best players ever, the best player on the planet etc.

  • $tephanie

    Bye Red’s Army, I’m done reading this blog. Good luck everyone.

  • SSJ6Celts

    Jesus guys calm down. The celts had the night off and NBA player is in the mitts of a historic run. Good piece and a worthwhile discussion. That said the difference between James and the holy trinity(MJ, Magic & Bird) is his willingness to differ on the biggest stage. Sure they won last year, but one season does not undo 8 seasons of folding like a lawn chair when the game was on the line with less then a minute on the clock.

    He’s 28, so lets says he has some 7 seasons left of prime to win 5 more titles to catch MJ. I don’t see it. And Miami will have to break up as they can’t afford to stay together unless they once again take less money. Lebron will most likely retire with 3 to 4 NBA titles and 5 or 6 MVPs. Then we can have the MJ/LBJ discussion again. I’ll take MJ.

  • themainman

    As unlikely as it may be, I would love to see Lebron play for Boston some day just to hear the reactions. I have a feeling there wouldn’t be so much hatred.

    While I’m torn on my personal opinion of Lebron at the moment, I’m not gonna hop in here and start hating on this article because it doesn’t say what I would have said. Redsarmy is the best Celtics blog out there, hands down, they can write what they want. If you don’t like it, don’t read it (I hear Bleacher Report has some top ten lists waiting for ya), but quit cluttering up my morning with your negativity please.

  • Spike

    2 things. This blog could certainly use an ‘around the NBA’ type of section. Even once a week. It would be particularly useful to some of the people who don’t seem to know that there are 29 other teams in the association.

    On Lebron. Just imagine how hard it is to be a GM from one of those other 29 teams in the league right now knowing the futility of trying to beat Lebron and DWade in either the ECF or NBA finals. I would think this is something the league hasn’t experienced since the Kobe/Shaq days.

    It’s good to keep these things in mind as we watch that Danny Ainge decides to do before the trade deadline and just how far this Celtics team can make it this season.

  • http://redsarmy.com John – Red’s Army

    Wow. You know, guys, there is an NBA outside of Boston. And no one is telling you to like the guy… its just a piece about how the best player in the NBA is playing a crazy level.If your hate for LeBron prevents you from seeing he’s the best player in the league right now, then you might need help. Hate him all you want, but recognize reality.

    • $tephanie95

      The thing is, who doesn’t know that he’s the best right now and playing at an unbelievable level right now? It’s just that the subject is OVER KILL right now in the league (like the whole are we better w/without Rondo subject here).

      This guy is going to be the main roadblock for any team in the East.I don’t think anyone is in denial of that.

    • KGino

      “there is an NBA outside of Boston”.. we know this John. The point is, we’re here to read about the celtics. If we want to read about the NBA, we’ll go somewhere else.

  • Noori

    As a neutral basketball player, I guess he’s doing well.

    As a Celtic fan, he can get 100 pts per game and still be a D-bag!

  • http://www.redsarmy.com Rico Albarracin

    I don’t get the hate. I understand, as a Celtics fan, that Miami is the team to beat but why so much hate for LeBron? Is this how Pistons fans were with MJ? I’ve gotten to the point that I just marvel at what he’s doing. I’ll be able to look back and say that I experienced an all time great in person.

    • http://twitter.com/ricoa87 Rico Albarracin

      Such a lovely comment. But the grammar is just completely off.

  • Mike

    I think the hate can be contributed to a few factors:

    - the NBA’s agenda of glorifying certain players
    - the NBA’s agenda of never giving the celtics any props , and any team besides the lakers and heat and thunder these days for that matter. Could make a case that its just heat and lakers that get all attention these days.
    - back in MJ’s day, there was not HUNDREDS of sports shows and Internet columns as there are today.
    - any player can have a few good games in a row
    - etc. etc.

  • KGino

    I agree, RedsArmy is a place for all things CELTICS.. hence the name. If this was an article on NBAarmy, then fine.

    There should be no articles on this site that don’t relate directly in some way to the Celtics!!! Lebron playing in our conference doesn’t count. 100% of the celtics fans I know can’t stand Lebron, so there’s no way in hell we’re gonna be happy to come to OUR CELTICS HAVEN WEBSITE to see a novel about LeBron’s greatness.

    Sportscenter/ESPN is already blowing this thing up so bad.. does RedsArmy really need to as well? It’s OVERKILL John, Chuck, etc. Please don’t let this happen again.

    • KGino

      it’s literally sickening as a Celtics fan and frequenter of this site.. stick to analyzing all things GREEN.

  • KGino

    Top 3 Reasons to Hate Lebron:

    1.) He abandoned his hometown city and all of it’s fans to join forces with one of the other top 3 players in the NBA at the time, as well as a Top 15 player. Only then was he good enough to win a Championship…

    2.) He bitches and moans after almost EVERY CALL.. when you are the BEST player on the planet and ALREADY get THE MOST BENEFIT from NBA officiating of ANY player in the league, you shouldn’t complain.

    3.) His personality is unlikeable. Just last week he said “nobody ever brings up how I took LESS $ to play with the Heat”… so not only does he bring this up HIMSELF, but he wants a cookie too.. If you can’t see why people would hate a guy making HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS and complaining about it, then something is wrong with you.

    F&@$ Lebron James.. Lebron makes Kobe Bryant look like Brian Gumble.

  • boston2343

    You can now change the site name to Erik Spoelstra’s Army. lol

  • boston2343

    why do we visit Redsarmy? to check out Celtics related news posting this article just defeat the purpose.

    last time i checked Lebron is wearing ugly red not green

  • MC

    Avid Reds Army reader for years here. Loved that you guys did this peice because its unfortunatly true, and I dont mind a peice on something that isnt necessarily celtics related every now and then, especially if there isnt any real celtics news to report. Anyone saying they are never coming back to this site, go then, who cares. Keep doing you John and Chuck and whoever wrote this article, This site has been my go-to for years and you guys always keep us updated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leland.wong1 Leland Wong

    No doubt in my mind that Lebron is the best ever. nobady like him and there will be nobody like him.