It grinds my gears when people say LeBron James is the greatest player of all time. He is 30 years old and there are players that are alive and in the league that are better than LeBron James up to this point in his career. Those players are Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, BTW. This is my 2 cents about the 2015 NBA Playoffs and the LeBron James show coming soon to the world now that he hit a buzzer beater against the Bulls.
With all of the hype/endorsements surrounding LeBron coming into the league, LeBron James had the most favorable and adoring media he could possibly have his rookie season. There aren't many people willing to accept any cristicism about him. Any criticism about LeBron means they're a hater. But I don't care, some things need to be said.
If there was any doubt, I'm not a LeBron James fan. I have plenty of reasons why, but my opinion is based on his persona/image, his play on the court and the over-hyped bandwagon aka "witnesses". Rather than focusing on "hating" and avoiding the conversation, read this post and show how what I've said is wrong. He is not the type of player I can support. Let me repeat.....I do not like him and these are my opinions. I'm no journalist.....just a former D1 athlete, NBA fan and I think a lot of people have it wrong.
1. Play on the court
When you watch LeBron play, his athletic ability is undeniable. New statistics like +\-, efficiency ratings and other relatively recent developments in statistical analysis are greatly influenced by other players in the game and an individual player can't control these numbers. Just to be clear, these statistics didn't exist when Magic, Jordan, West, Chamberlain and all of the other greats played. So I'm not talking about advanced statistics here. Statistics are used as tools to advance a persons argument and I'm not focusing on them for that reason. For example, just because Emmit Smith had more Super Bowl rings and total rushing yards doesn't mean that he was a better running back than Barry Sanders or Walter Payton. I'll keep it really simple. Within the history of the NBA, LeBron James' style of play isn't as revolutionary as Kevin Garnett. A 7' power forward that has a jump shot, killer competitiveness and a well developed post game is how KG revolutionized the NBA. LeBron is a 6'-8" 2/3 wing man that is stronger and quicker than most people his size. An amazing athlete, yes. Revolutionary, no.
To expand on the false statistical legacy generated by the adoring sports media; just because LeBron gets assists, doesn't mean he's a point guard. He is generally classified as a player that can play any position and it's not true. He is not a point guard just because he dribbles the ball up the court, just like Pippen (a point forward). Running an offense and orchestrating a team takes a lot of skills that LBJ doesn't have that true point guards have. LeBron James also has no post game even though he physically is freak of nature. That lack of versatility on offense means he's restricted to the perimeter or getting to the basket. Even with this limited position, LeBron is not set up for a long career because of his body type and his style of play. He's heavy and he has a monster's shoulders. His speed and strength are by far his greatest attributes and I predict that when his speed fades with age, so will his career because he won't be able to keep up and he won't be able to get to the hoop. With no post game and not being able to fall into a half court offense (not just the screen and roll or a motion offense) his days are numbered and his career will fade as fast as his hairline. He is dependent on his ability to take advantage of his physical gifts and not exploit the circumstances of individual scenarios, like Kobe, Michael, Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins could.
LeBron's game has mainly been dominant in the open court. When he's caught in a half court offense, I've seen him resort to long range, step back jump shot far too often. This is how he made the buzzer beater against Chicago the other night, but I think there is a reason his coach didn't draw up that play. The coaches job is to put players in the best position to win the game. Anyone that knows basketball knows step back, fade away jumpers are low percentage shots so regardless if he made it, I would be curious to see LeBron James field goal percentage for long range, step back three pointers. In order for LBJ to become the GOAT, he would have to master the methodical destruction of a team with his skill, not just his physical gifts. Until then, his style of play seems immature and unfocused in the sense that he's out there having fun and trying too hard to be the popular guy in the league, but doesn't have that killer instinct that the greats have. I put LeBron James and Dwight Howard in the same category of over hyped, physically gifted athletes that don't have the mental discipline to dominate their opponents and the NBA in general.
2. Introduction into the NBA=Manufactured Hype
Before LeBron James came into the league, he adopted the name "King". For me, it shows a lack of humility and perspective. Naming himself "King" must feed some sort of need to establish himself as the best outside from his play on the court similar to his desire to be the players union president. Even if he was given that name, he didn't have to take it on. As you can see in the subject line of this entry, he has it as his Twitter handle.
insecurity= "lack of confidence or assurance; self-doubt: He is plagued by insecurity." dictionary.reference.com
Now....if he came into the league and he earned that name by dominating, winning championships, etc I would feel differently. But he didn't. In my opinion, it's audacious and disrespectful to the veterans in the NBA to start talking about LeBron James being the best player ever to play or to call him "King". The truth is, it's way too early to have the GOAT conversation. If an unfortunate injury ended LeBron James' career tomorrow, I don't think the argument could be made he's the GOAT. It's only an argument that can be had until after his career is over or on its decline. He could still get better if he develops his game further or he could have already reached his peak and be on his way downward. Nobody knows, but the span of his career needs more time before he should even be considered.
2. The Decision
Everybody knows about "the decision" and I've heard the perspective that LeBron James needed to focus on what's best for him. I actually agree that he should, but that's an over simplification and it disregards the impact a franchise player like LeBron James can have on a franchise and teammates. He knew he wanted to leave and could have just spoken to the management to handle it in a way where he could go to a team that he wanted to play for and the Cavaliers could have been able to get something in return. He acknowledges why some people would be upset about it in the quote below.
Despite being one of the best players in the NBA, LeBron James decided to go to the Heat after 7 years at Cleveland and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009, 2010 and making it to the NBA Finals in 2006. The Cavaliers made it to the playoffs from 2006-2010, so the argument that LeBron's team wasn't good enough doesn't hold water. Bad teams with one superstar don't make it that far into the playoffs and as much as people want to say it's proof of how good LeBron is, it's just not true. The Cavaliers were still rebuilding in 2014 after LeBron screwed them over in 2010. As a free agent, the Cavs couldn't get anything back from a trade for LeBron James, not even role players.
Kevin Garnett played for the Minnesota Timberwolves for 12 years and they never made it as far into the playoffs as the Cavs. Kevin Garnett came into the league from high school, given the nickname "The Big Ticket" and was the 2004 MVP for the T-Wolves. After years of disappointment in Minnesota, he decided to leave and nobody questioned his decision because the fans in Minnesota loved KG and KG loved them. Timberwolves fans eventually cheered him to win his rings with the Celtics. KG was traded for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair and a few other players. Al Jefferson became the leading scorer of the team and is an All Star caliper player. The Cavaliers after having some frustrating experiences in the playoffs were left with the team built around LeBron James, without LeBron James. The Cavs didn't learn about the "The Decision" until shortly before it happened. It shows a lack of professionalism and consciousness of the impact of his decisions.
3. An Ora of Dominance
When a person is really the best at their craft, they don't need to constantly prove they are the best with anything other than their performance. It's understood that the game of basketball changed after Michael Jordan's career with endorsements and developing a player brand. But the distractions from the game seem to overshadow his game and I think LeBron James' brand has far exceeded his performance. The name "King" tries too hard to prove something. The media celebrates any and everything he does and there is a bandwagon of fans that follow him to whatever team he decides to play for that year. Those people are called "witnesses" but they are the congregation of Kool Aid drinkers, wooed by commercials, flashing lights, statistics, new shoe releases, headbands, decision announcements, etc. take the three examples of MVP acceptance speeches. Guess who is the only one that refers to themselves in 3rd person?