Blogtable
Blogtable
Blogtable
Blogtable

Blogtable: Is LeBron James one of top 5 greatest players ever?

Each week, we ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.

Nov 2, 2016 10:37 AM ET

 

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Clippers coach Doc Rivers said LeBron James is “one of the top five players to ever play the game.”  What say you?

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Steve AschburnerMy first reaction when I heard that was to check the Clippers’ schedule. I assumed they were about to face Cleveland and Doc, ever wily, was trying to schmooze LeBron into non-lethal mode via flattery. But then I saw they don’t clash for another month and absorbed Rivers’ comments. He’s right, of course. LeBron probably was top five before last season’s Finals, but he solidified it with his MVP work in the Cavaliers’ remarkable comeback from 3-1. I have Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain as my Nos. 1 and 2, in that order, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds one of the next three spots. But that still leaves room for James and one other (probably Magic Johnson).

Fran Blinebury: Yes. At this point, the only folks who would disagree are those who have “baked-in” opinions on either of the presidential candidates. To them, James could end hunger, engineer world peace and bring Tupac back to life and they’d complain about those losses in The Finals. Time to pack in the grudges. He’s lived up to the hype. Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson and LeBron. It pains me to bump Magic Johnson.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Sure. There’s no wrong answer. But LeBron has been great enough for long enough, has delivered championships, has been brilliant on offense and starred on defense that he needs to be in the conversation, even for the people who don’t put him top five yet. If someone wants to say six of seven, fine as well.

Shaun Powell: I say Doc Rivers is wrong right now, and might be right when LeBron is done and we can judge King James appropriately. Doc and I and you and many others somehow feel compelled to rank players we've never seen (my basketball memory begins with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson). Again, it's so tough to judge eras and so these top-5 and top-10 lists are tricky. Anyway, give me the game-changers (Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson) and the championship king (Bill Russell) and the greatest basketball player of all time from womb-to-rocking chair (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). For now.

John Schuhmann: I agree. He has an unprecedented combination of size, athleticism and skill. And with six straight trips to The Finals (seven overall) in a 30-team league, he also has the resume.

Sekou Smith: I cringed when I first heard the audio of Doc's comments because I think he's spot on, and that means someone has to come out of my previous top five to make room for LeBron. That first five has been locked in for so long that you hate to move someone off the list. That said, LeBron's case for top-five status is sturdy. If you go with Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan in the backcourt, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar and Bill Russell up front that small forward spot has to be LeBron's position now. The second five is wicked, of course and filled with one-name wonders (Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon and Kobe Bryant), but LeBron has earned his top five nod.

Ian Thomsen: By the time he’s done, there will be no doubt of it. If he retired today then it would be harder to convince those of us who say that the tiebreaker In this highest of categories comes down to the number of championships. But LeBron’s passion for the game and the versatility that will enable him to adapt his style of play as he ages are going to enable him to contend for championships for as far as we can project.

Lang Whitaker: Doc is right. To me, LeBron is not only the most dominant player in the NBA today, but he's the best passer as well. He can score, he can stop anybody one-on-one, and he can beat anybody one-on-one, and he can set up his teammates, too. I don't know what metric we're using to rank the all-timers, but no matter what we're using, LeBron's one of the five best players to ever play the game.


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