At this stage in his career, there’s no denying that LeBron James is one of the five greatest players to ever play basketball. Despite his consistent dominance, the Los Angeles Lakers star is often dismissed by players from previous generations. NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving is the latest legend to take a bit of a dig at LeBron.
During a recent appearance on the Posted Up podcast, Erving was asked to name his top-two all-time NBA teams. The first team included Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Elgin Baylor, and Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the second team. Noticeably, LeBron was missing from both teams. Erving had a chance to explain.
“He’s the guy who has led the charge in terms of super teams,” Erving said. “When he put together a team in Miami, he put together a team in Cleveland as well, and he put together a team in Los Angeles. So, he can pick his own team. I ain’t going to pick his team.”
This could certainly be read as a bit of shade thrown at the Lakers’ star. There’s no way that LeBron doesn’t belong on one of those all-time top NBA teams.
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LeBron Didn’t Create Super Teams
For whatever reason, LeBron is often credited as the player who is responsible for the rise of super teams. That’s not necessarily the case. A few years before he joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, the Boston Celtics had a super team featuring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Super teams can also be traced back a lot further.
Wilt Chamberlain joined Elgin Baylor and Jerry West on the Lakers back in the late-70s. All three of those guys are on Erving’s list and don’t get dinged for being on a super team. Regardless, LeBron shouldn’t lose status as one of the all-time greats because he’s formed super teams. It’s how the NBA has always been about super teams and that’ll never change.
LeBron Is GOAT if He Wins the Championship This Year?
At a certain point, LeBron can end the argument on who is the greatest basketball player ever. He’s still playing at an extremely high level and it’s easy to see him being a top play for a few more years. Some are even ready to proclaim LeBron the greatest ever if he’s able to win the championship this year. Stephen A. Smith still believes Michael Jordan is the best ever but will be swayed if LeBron wins it all.
“If LeBron James goes through the Clippers with Kawhi and Paul George and Rondo — and then he goes and beats Kevin Durant along with Kyrie and James Harden,” Smith said to Kendrick Perkins on First Take. “I’m not going to go that far. He’ll never be No. 1 to me over MJ, but I will say this. I won’t have a critical word to say about LeBron James for the rest of his career.”