Marlowe Blog: LeBron making case as all-time great
With another championship, Miami Heat forward would rise in the rankings
If you follow NBA basketball, you have heard this statement of greatness over and over again:
“LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet.”
Yes, it’s true, and virtually everyone agrees, LeBron is the best.
Two years ago, however, it wasn't an open-and-shut case. LeBron and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant were perceived to be equals.
But these days, with one ring on his finger, and another perhaps on the way, James is considered the penultimate player.
But just how great is he? The greatest now, yes – but is he the best of all time?
In my opinion the answer is no…. just not yet.
Before I evaluate LeBron, let’s have some fun.
Here are my selections for the 20 greatest players of all time. At one time or another, live or on TV, I have seen every player on these lists in action.
Lets start with the “5 Tops” in NBA history. No positions, just the five most dynamic, athletic, impactful and historical hoopsters that ever lived. A reminder: rings count!
Bill Russell: The greatest winner of all time with 11 NBA Championships in 13 seasons. The NBA MVP award is named after him.
Wilt Chamberlain: Wilt was the most dominating individual force to ever play the game. “The Dipper,” a nickname he hated, still holds an astounding 62 NBA records – including scoring 100 points in a single game.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Kareem scored the most points of any player in the history of the game. He was a six-time NBA MVP and collected six rings. His pet shot, the “skyhook,” was the single most devastating weapon the NBA has ever seen.
Michael Jordan: The most versatile wing player in NBA history. He won six scoring titles and six NBA Titles. And then, of course, there are the shoes!
Magic Johnson: Magic was and is the gold standard for point guards in the NBA. He led the Lakers to five NBA Championships and perhaps would have won more had he not been diagnosed as HIV positive.
My second five:
Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Shaquille O’Neal, Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon.
The third five:
Kobe Bryant, Jerry West, Moses Malone, Tim Duncan, Rick Barry.
John Stockton, Elgin Baylor, Elvin Hayes, Karl Malone, John Havlicek, and Scott Hastings.
So where does LeBron rate amongst these all-time greats?
In my opinion, he’s not in the top five and probably not even in the second five – but he’s certainly on par with the third group and moving up quickly on the outside.
LBJ already has scored over 21,000 points at the young age of 28. By the end of his career, he might be the leading scorer of all time.
As I mentioned, James already has one ring with the second just four wins away.
And he will have chances to win many more.
If he does, LeBron Raymone James just may end up being the best basketball player of all time.
Who’s in your five?
Chris Marlowe is in his ninth year as the play-by-play voice for the Nuggets on Altitude. He is a longtime broadcaster who also served as the captain of the gold media-winning U.S. Olympic volleyball team in 1984.