James claimed the title long ago.
The debate has raged on, though, with James and Michael Jordan as the two most often associated with the mantle these days. Over the years, there has been a shift in the opinions of James’ peers.
Polling shows that Jordan still has the edge over James. But the latter is closing the gap.
As the generations continue to filter in and out, it stands to reason that we are not far from James’ place as the G.O.A.T. is even more widely accepted.
“For 21 years, you never get in trouble, to be able to take in his family, protect this family, raise his kids the right way, you know, be happily married, all those things, it’s perfect,” Antetokounmpo said, per Vardon. “He’s kind of like setting the blueprint for the rest of us to go forward.”
Antetokounmpo went on to say he wants to emulate all of those things for his team. But one doesn’t have to venture far outside of the Lakers organization to find similar praise for James and his career.
LeBron James’ Teammates Agree With Giannis Antetokounmpo
Third-year shooting guard Austin Reaves has already had his fair share of moments with James in his young career. And he is among those who believe James’ accolades — which include becoming the all-time scoring leader last season — make him the greatest to ever do it.
“The stats show for itself and he does way more than the stats show,” Reaves said, per Eric Eulau of All Lakers in January of 2022. “He’s the best player to ever play.”
Of course, James has his fair share of detractors – those who will claim he isn’t even the greatest Laker in history with Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant both lifelong Lakers – let alone the greatest player in NBA history. But James’ impact on his peers and the legacy he will leave behind are undeniable.
“It’s hard to talk about the NBA without mentioning his name,” Gabe Vincent said, per Vardon. “Whether it’s the Heat or you’re in Charlotte, you’re going to mention LeBron’s name.”
LeBron James Focused on Championships
This past season, the Lakers made an unlikely run to the Western Conference Finals given they began the season 2-10. But James made it clear during his exit interview that that was not good enough at this stage of his career.
“I don’t like to say it’s a successful year because I don’t play for anything besides winning championships at this point in my career,” James said via the team on May 23. “I don’t get a kick out of making a conference appearance. I’ve done it, a lot, and it’s not fun to me to not be able to be able to … get into the finals.”
Championships are one of the things detractors hold against James in comparing him to Jordan.
Were it not for his own drive to be the best player he can be – and bolster his claims as the best on the planet – quieting another doubt w]could be another source of motivation.