By and large, I don't think Matt's argument is unreasonable, but there are a few things I would quibble with.
LeBron is currently the exact same age as Michael Jordan was when he won his first title. I'm not sure his window is closing, exactly. LeBron is the best player in the NBA since Jordan (with the possible exception of a peak Shaq), and is currently in the top 10-15 all-time. How far he climbs will depend on how many (if any) championships he wins. I think thats a totally fair statement. But we should all wait until the chips fall before drawing any huge conclusions.
That is to say, that in the grand historical scheme of things, Kobe, Shaq, and Duncan would all have to rank higher than LeBron right now, but (a) if I had to start a team with any one of them at their peak, I'd pick LBJ in a heartbeat, and (b) LeBron is 20-fucking-8. Give it time
Case in point: LeBron has had a much better career TO THIS POINT than Jordan. Remember: Jordan didn't "do anything" (ie win a championship) until he was 28. LeBron has three MVPs and made Cleveland a legitimate contender.
As for the "easy road" argument: please note that the 2009 Cavs won 66 games while starting Mo Williams, Delonte West, Big Z (who I hear was great, pre-Glastnost), and Anderson Varejao. Holy shit! No way even Jordan does that. Doug Henning couldn't pulled off that magic. So ... its awfully hard to fault LeBron for going to a bigger market to play with better players. I can't think of a single player in the history of the league that could have made better tasting chicken salad out of that steaming pile of chicken shit he was given in Cleveland.
Easy Road, pt deux: Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant were drafted on to teams that already had two of the ten best players ever; Larry Bird started with the Celtics the same year Kevin McHale came over, and a year after Parish (two hall-of-famers); and Michael Jordan played in the third biggest market in the NBA, and landed a gem (not unlike the Celtics getting McHale) in Scottie Pippen. All of these guys are way, way better than Chris Bosh. And frankly, they're all better than Wade, except Parish. To piss on LeBron for leaving Cleveland is such high-horse bullshit.
I do agree that the way it is, LeBron has to be better than Jordan or he is considered a failure by much of the public. However, all I ask is that if he turns out to not be the greatest ever -- if he ends up the fifth, or ninth best player ever -- that we just enjoy him for being that. I mean, can you imagine spending fifteen years carping about what a pussy and a loser Jerry West or Oscar Robertson were? It just seems silly.
That said, if you want to hate LeBron, please do so. God knows I fucking hated Jordan with a deep, deep passion. I just never let that get in the way of the fact he was the greatest player ever, which I acknowledged then and acknowledge now.
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