Sports fans love to debate. This is part of the excitement of sports, arguing about what players are best at their respective game or position. One that has become surprisingly popular pits second-year star LeBron James against various other greats, such as Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, and others. It’s surprising not only because LeBron is so young, so most people would exclude him but also because it really shouldn’t be an argument at all.
That’s right. This one is a no-brainer. Stop all the arguments, the debates and the loosely-constructed ideas that other players in the National Basketball Association are better than LeBron. I’m here to tell you today that there is no reasonable debate — LeBron James is without a doubt the best basketball player on the planet Earth!
Okay, before you blow your stack about his age, lack of experience and the fact that he has yet to win a title, like Kobe and others, let’s consider the best barometer of a great basketball player.
Truly great players possess all of the fundamental skills: shooting, passing, ball handling, rebounding, shot blocking and defending. Now, players like Kobe, McGrady and Kevin Garnett certainly have these skills. But to truly separate players, we need to go beyond these skills. Consider two more factors: the ability to dominate at any position and to make all players around you better. This is the true test of greatness.
Larry Bird had it, Magic Johnson had it, and Michael Jordan certainly had it. Does Kobe? I say no. Does McGrady? Definitely not. Garnett may, but he still has too many nights of 14 points and 9 rebounds in a losing effort to say he definitely has it.
Now, consider LeBron. The skills are unquestionable. He averages 25 points, nearly 8 rebounds and just under 8 assists per game, in only his second year in the league, at the tender age of 20. He’s the youngest to score 40, to get a triple double, to start in an All Star game, and the list grows every night he plays. Further ponder the fact that at 6-8 and a muscular 240 pounds and with uncanny speed, quickness and leaping ability, LeBron can handle the ball like a point guard, shoot like most decent (not great, yet) off guards, and post up with the best forwards and centers in the NBA. He blocks shots like a center, can shut down anyone, with his size and quickness, and he gets to the basket and draws fouls better than anyone. He creates a mismatch every night, because he is completely unguardable.
Finally, in just his second year, he’s taken a team that won 17 games prior to his arrival to a 50-win pace. And for the first time since the early 1990s, the Cavaliers are now a legitimate playoff contender. I doubt any coach in the league wants to face the Cavaliers and LeBron in a seven-game series.
So, when people want to discuss the greatest players in the game, tell them to forget any argument that doesn’t start and end with the name LeBron James.
Mark Barnes is the author of the new novel, The League, the first work of fiction, based on fantasy football. He is also an investment real estate and home loan finance expert. Learn more about his suspense thriller at http://www.sportsnovels.com. Get his free mortgage finance course at http://www.winningthemortgagegame.com