King James has fans up in arms once again. In the latest episode of the docu-series “More Than An Athlete,” LeBron James made comments proclaiming himself to be the Greatest Player of All Time (GOAT). The “More Than An Athlete” docu-series, which airs on ESPN+, tells the story of James and his three friends and business partners Maverick Carter, Rich Paul, and Randy Mims. As can be seen in the clip below, James stated that winning the 2016 NBA Championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers made him the Greatest Player Of All Time. James’ comments have added even more fuel to the GOAT debate.
Fans and critics have been debating whether James or Jordan is the GOAT? Fans and critics have been debating whether a great player should proclaim himself to be the GOAT? Perhaps these are the wrong questions. The question should be whether there can truly be a Greatest Player of All Time? Or should the debate focus on the greatest player of each era?
Should a Great Player Proclaim Himself the GOAT?
Many fans and critics do not think so. After James’ comments, fans, critics, and the media went into a frenzy. While most acknowledged that James is a great player, many felt his comments were inappropriate. Critics argued that no one should proclaim themselves as the GOAT because it is disrespectful to other greats who came before.
Of course, it would not be a GOAT debate involving LeBron James if Michael Jordan was not mentioned. Critics of James’ comments referred to a 2009 interview of Michael Jordan when he was questioned about being the GOAT. Jordan stated that he would never say that he was the greatest player because he never had the chance to play other great players that proceeded him like Wilt Chamberlin and Jerry West. This statement, essentially proves that there can never be a true greatest player of all time.
Can There Ever be a True GOAT? Or Should the Debate be Focused on the Greatest Player of Each Era?
There can never truly be a GOAT because there are too many players who were regarded as the greatest during their era. Great players have stood above the rest throughout basketball history. Given the number of great players to play at various times within the sport, it is very difficult if not impossible to single out one person to be the true GOAT. How does one choose between Bill Russell, Oscar Roberston, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, just to name a few? Bill Russel played during the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. He became a player-coach and went on to win 11 NBA championships. Oscar Robertson was the first basketball player to average a triple-double. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still holds the NBA all-time leading scorer record.
The answer is that one cannot choose because they were all great in their own right. One could argue that they were the greatest players of their eras. However, it would be difficult to designate one of them the true GOAT because they all made invaluable contributions to the game.
Furthermore, the game has evolved over the years. The style of play has changed and continues to change, which makes it very difficult to designate a true GOAT. Plays that are thought of as great today were not before. For example, the game today has largely shifted to three-point shooting. This is largely due to the dominance of the “Splash Brothers,” Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Before their unprecedented three-point shooting, stopping to shoot a three instead of going for the “easier” bucket was unheard of. Due to their unprecedented three-point shooting, Curry and Thompson will also go down as two of the greatest players of their era.
The 2016 Finals Did Not Make James the GOAT, Because it is not Possible to Designate a True GOAT
First, let us acknowledge that James was correct in some of his comments. He did do something special that had never been done when he led the Cavaliers to defeat Golden State. In 2016, Golden State was arguably unstoppable. The Warriors beat the Chicago Bulls’ record for most wins in a season finishing at 73-9. The Cavilers came back from being down 3-1 in the series and defeated the Warriors for the Championship. No team had ever come back to win after being down 3-1.
King James was already a phenomenal basketball player and his accomplishments in the 2016 NBA Finals solidified his greatness that much more. However, does that performance make King James the GOAT? No, it does not make him the Greatest Player of All Time simply because there are too many great players who dominated at different times to have a true GOAT. However, it may make him the greatest player of his era.
King James’ Performance May Have Solidified his Position as the Greatest of his Era
King James’ performance in the 2016 NBA Finals certainly makes him the greatest player of his era because they beat a team no one thought they could beat against all the odds. The Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit and beat what is the best team in NBA history, as far as the record goes. The Cavaliers cemented their win with a pivotal moment that was offered by none other than King James. James ran an almost full 94 feet to block Andre Iguodala’s shot to keep the game tied in game seven. At that moment, the momentum officially shifted to the Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers rode that wave all the way to victory. With beating the team with the best NBA record, ending a 52-year championship drought, and making the big play to push the team to the win, it is likely that the 2016 NBA Finals may have made James the greatest of his era. However, King James is still playing. He surely has many great moments to come that could rise to or even exceed the 2016 NBA Finals. We will see.
We cannot forget that LeBron James is winning in ways no other NBA player has. He has helped start a school, send over 1100 kids to college, won’t “Shut Up and Dribble“, and produced a documentary highlighting the NCAA hypocrisy.