LeBron James was crowned the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, but he didn’t necessarily feel like it. Despite leading his Cleveland Cavaliers to victory in four straight games, including a Game 7 win over Golden State Warriors on their home court (and becoming just the third player ever) LeBron said that there were still more basketballs out there for him to break records and be considered “The Greatest Of All Time.”
LeBron James has been the best player in the NBA for a while now. He has won 4 championships and 6 finals games.
The GOAT discussion in the NBA is one of the most heated in the world. You better have enough money to purchase numerous drinks if you go to a pub and tell a Michael Jordan fan that LeBron James is the GOAT. Some people care about the debate as much as, if not more than, their children.
But what are the thoughts of the two guys in question?
It’s possible that we’ll never obtain their honest, uncensored thoughts on the subject. However, following one of his most astounding achievements, the 2016 NBA Finals, James recently declared that he thought he was the GOAT.
Even if you’re not a Jordan fan, you can see why he felt that way if you watched the series.
In 2016, LeBron James reinforced his position as the GOAT.
LeBron James has been compared to Michael Jordan throughout his career, but his performance in the 2016 NBA Finals cemented his spot in the GOAT argument.
James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a second straight Finals trip while playing for his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, against the record-setting 73-win Golden State Warriors. The Warriors took a 3-1 lead in the series, and the Cavs seemed to be doomed.
James, on the other hand, had a career-high 41 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists in Game 5 before tying the series in Game 6 with another 41 points, eight rebounds, and 11 assists.
In Game 7, LeBron and the Cavs achieved the impossible, rallying to win and claim the title – Cleveland’s first in team history. James scored 27 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out 11 assists.
It was the first time in Finals history where a team came back from a 3-1 deficit to win. James’ feat was incredible, especially since he achieved it against a club that had won the most regular-season games in history.
The achievement provided further ammunition to LeBron supporters in their GOAT discussions. For James, it confirmed his belief that he might be the best of all time.
After winning the 2016 championship, LeBron James felt like the GOAT.
The King sat down for an interview with former NBA player and TNT commentator Kenny Smith ahead of the 2022 NBA All-Star Game in LeBron James’ old homeland of Cleveland.
“What constitutes a GOAT?” Smith inquired of James. And LeBron responded with an intriguing response.
“At that moment, I was like, ‘I’m the greatest basketball player people have ever seen,’” James said of the 2016 NBA Finals, per TNT’s Twitter. “In all facets. I can play the one through five; I can guard one through five. Did something that’s never been done in the history of the sport. Teams that go down 3-1 were 0 for like 32 in Finals history. There’s nobody ever coming out of that. And nobody gave us a chance. I just felt like, ‘Ain’t nobody better than me at this.’ I felt like Jay-Z when he made The Blueprint.”
Those may seem to be an arrogant, confident remark, but the four-time Finals MVP gave it his all in that series. He had a good level of scoring, rebounding, passing, and defense (The Block was arguably the greatest play in Finals history). He also accomplished it against one of the best NBA teams of all time.
Michael Jordan never allowed his opponents to take the Chicago Bulls to the NBA Finals for more than seven games, but he didn’t have to play juggernauts like the Warriors. James accomplished something no one else has, and you can’t blame him for thinking he’s the GOAT.
LeBron James isn’t through with his legacy yet.
On Feb. 20, 2022, LeBron James (left) and Michael Jordan attend the NBA All-Star Game. | Getty Images/Kevin Mazur
We’re not going to explain why LeBron James is the GOAT or why he isn’t. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already made up your decision. Nothing I say will make a difference.
However, we can all agree that James has more time to contribute to his GOAT case.
The four-time NBA MVP is fewer than 2,000 points away from overtaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time scoring lead in the league. In addition, he is in the top ten in assists and steals. And, despite his age, James has shown that he still has a lot of life left in him. This year, he’s averaging 29.1 points, the highest he’s had since he was 25 years old.
Although he isn’t playing on a strong team this season, LeBron James still has a lot of basketball left in him and is in a terrific position to win at least one more championship, whether with the Los Angeles Lakers or with another club. He’ll tie Michael with six rings if he wins two more.
It’s possible that LeBron James isn’t the consensus GOAT. Over Michael Jordan, he probably doesn’t even get a majority of the vote. But he’s far from through crafting his legacy, and in the next years, he’ll only be able to reinforce his position in the argument.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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