Lakers: LeBron James Thinks This Player Is The NBA GOAT

Oh he went there, folks.

Assuming he is available to suit up tonight, Los Angeles Lakers 19-time All-Star power forward LeBron James could very well find himself overtaking Los Angeles Lakers 19-time All-Star center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA’s all-time regular season scoring record. Abdul-Jabbar’s record (for now): 38,387 points. James has scored 38,351 points as of this writing.

Ahead of the big moment, James sat down with Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register to reflect on one big question: who is the greatest basketball player of all time?

“I’m gonna let everybody else decide where (the scoring record) puts me,” he told Goon. “It’s not for me to say now, ‘OK I’m this or that.’” 

But moments later, LeBron James actually would declare, once and for all, who he thinks is the best NBA player in history: LeBron James.

“What I bring to the table as a basketball player … I feel like I’m the best basketball player that ever played the game,” James said. “That’s just my confidence, that’s just what I bring to the table, what I possess. But as far as if the scoring record gets me to another level, I don’t know.” 

Goon notes that there are a handful of legit GOAT candidates, citing James, Abdul-Jabbar, Boston Celtics center Bill Russell, and the generally accepted answer, Chicago Bulls shooting guard Michael Jordan.

Goon lays out the arguments for Jordan and James. Jordan went 6-0 in the NBA Finals, was named a five-time MVP to James’s four MVP titles, was a superior defender for longer (James was never named Defensive Player of the Year), Jordan battled with old-school NBA defenses where hand-checking was permitted, whereas just one of LeBron’s 20 (and counting) seasons was played under these harsher opposing defensive conditions.

James already has longevity on his side (Jordan “only” played for 15 seasons, but keep in mind he also went to North Carolina for three years, while James leapt right to the league), and is more venerated as a passer (though MJ was surely no slouch in that department either). Goon notes that James has won four titles on three different teams. 

On the “different teams” front, Jordan and Scottie Pippen were the only two overlapping players from their 1991-93 and 1996-98 three-peat runs, which is pretty darn close. But also, aside from his late-career Washington Wizards cameo, Jordan stuck around on the Bulls (he did flirt with the New York Knicks as a free agent during the second three-peat era) for all his titles, elevating the players he suited up alongside. 

“I think he’s going to have the greatest career of all time,” Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said. “I think he’s already had it. I think Michael’s the greatest of all-time, but that doesn’t take anything away from LeBron. LeBron’s had the greatest career. If my dad was alive, he’d be staring at me right now and yelling, ‘Bill Russell.’ You know, but I’m saying numbers and everything-wise, has anyone had a better career than LeBron? I can’t think of anyone.” 

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