Instead Coach asked me who my favorite basketball player was. “LeBron,” I said, like it should’ve been obvious. “Who else?” “Who else?” Coach said, surprised. “Uh… let me think… Michael Jordan?” “Jordan? Come on, man. Jordan is like somebody’s granddaddy. Jordan don’t wanna see LeBron on his worst day. LeBron could be sick from a bad batch of cafeteria chicken drummies and still give Jordan the business.” Coach stood up. “See, that’s the problem with you kids. Y’all don’t know what a true champ is.” “Coach, I hate to break it to you, but LeBron is a champ. He got rangs,” I said, holding up two fingers and wiggling them around. “But Jordan has six.” Now Coach held up both his hands. All five fingers spread on his right, just his pointer finger up on his left. He wiggled them like I did. “Six!”
Reynolds, Jason. Ghost (Track Book 1) (pp. 52-53). Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books. Kindle Edition.
By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. Although, a summary of his basketball career and influence on the game inevitably fails to do it justice, as a phenomenal athlete with a unique combination of fundamental soundness, grace, speed, power, artistry, improvisational ability and an unquenchable competitive desire, Jordan single-handedly redefined the NBA superstar.
Even contemporaneous superstars recognized the unparalleled position of Jordan. Magic Johnson said, “There’s Michael Jordan and then there is the rest of us.” Larry Bird, following a playoff game where Jordan dropped 63 points on the Boston Celtics in just his second season, appraisal of the young player was: “God disguised as Michael Jordan.”
A brief listing of his top accomplishments would include the following: Rookie of the Year; Five-time NBA MVP; Six-time NBA champion; Six-time NBA Finals MVP; Ten-time All-NBA First Team; Nine time NBA All-Defensive First Team; Defensive Player of the Year; 14-time NBA All-Star; Three-time NBA All-Star MVP; 50th Anniversary All-Time Team; Ten scoring titles — an NBA record and seven consecutive matching Wilt Chamberlain; Retired with the NBA’s highest scoring average of 30.1ppg; Hall of Fame inductee.
However, his impact is far greater than awards and championships. He burst into the league as a rookie sensation scoring in droves with an unmatchable first step and acrobatic drives and dunks and concluded his career as a cultural icon. Along the way, he became a true champion who spearheaded the globalization of the NBA with his dynamic on-court abilities and personal sense of style that was marketed to the masses.
A contender for the moniker of best NBA player of all time, LeBron James appears to be the rare case of a player seemingly performing in his prime over the course of nearly 20 years. A four-time MVP, four-time NBA champion and four-time Finals MVP, James turns 37 in December, but has averaged at least 25 points in every season except his rookie year (2003-04), in which he won Rookie of the Year.
A two-time Olympic gold medal winner with Team USA, James’ scoring average of 25 points or more for 17 consecutive seasons is an NBA record that he could extend in 2021-22.
James took the Heat to The Finals in all four of his seasons in Miami alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, capturing two championships (2012, ’13). In fact, James has led his teams to the NBA Finals in nine of the last 11 seasons.
During the 2020-21 season, James led all players in NBA All-Star voting for the fifth consecutive season and the eighth time in his career. A three-time All-Star MVP and the All-Star Game’s all-time leading scorer (389 points), James earned a starting role in the All-Star game for an NBA-record 17th time in 2020-21.
Last season, he became the third player in NBA history to register 35,000 career-points, joining Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone in that elite grouping. James became the youngest player in league annals to reach that milestone (36 years, 50 days), while also getting there in the fewest number of games (1,295).
James currently ranks No. 2 among active players in triple-doubles (101), behind new teammate Russell Westbrook (189). He is No. 3 in all-time in field goals made (13,063) and No. 1 among active players.
On James’ 36th birthday (Dec. 30, 2020), he became the first player to finish in double-figures in scoring for the 1,000th consecutive game, which extended a streak that started back in 2007. James’ current streak, which is the longest in the NBA, sits at 1,040 games.
On Jan. 27, 2021, he scored 34 points against Philadelphia to join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only Lakers to rack up 30 points or more in back-to-back games after turning 36 years old, according to Elias Sports Bureau.