The Golden State Warriors are the NBA Champions for the second time in 3 years! Being lead there by the stellar play of Kevin Durant, The Dubs have etched their place in history as one of the greatest teams of all time. The debate will last forever, what team would win comparing the Warriors to some of the greatest teams in history, and along with completely ridiculous comparison will come a just as, if not more egregious comparison of LeBron James to Michael Jordan
First let me preface this by saying I am without a doubt a Jordan guy. As far as the game goes, no one has seen or ever will see a talent like MJ again. He transcended the game, he inspired a whole new generation of not just domestic kids, but international children to chase their dream of playing in the NBA. Michael Jordan is one of those once in a generation, lifetime, millennia, existence of humankind type players. So is LeBron James.
For the life of me I cannot understand the LeBron hate, other than by people who couldn’t make it to their high school team and think they know all about the NBA. None the less LeBron is the most polarizing player perhaps in the history of the NBA… if not all sports. What he has done is nothing short of amazing. Carrying the Cleveland Cavaliers to a game 6 loss in the 2015 NBA Finals, literally by himself, bringing the city of Cleveland their first sports title in 52 years, defeating a 73 win, NBA record setting team, and this year going up against that same team, now re-tooled with arguably the second best player in the league in Kevin Durant, and averaging the first triple double in NBA Finals history, only to come up short as a team in Game 5.
The haters are everywhere, and perhaps it’s an even more daunting, Herculean task to convince haters that their hate is not only ridiculous, but unwarranted.
As a Jordan guy, there will never be another MJ, The man only played a full 14 seasons… ish, and still managed to retire as the NBA’s 3rd all-time leader in points, and won 6 rings. He is absolutely un-parralelled in his team and individual accomplishments and should be considered hands down, one of the best to ever play the game.
But, that doesn’t mean LeBron isn’t great in his own right. What we are baring witness to is amazing. LeBron has taken two separate teams to seven straight NBA Finals, and averages an NBA record 33 points per game in Elimination Games. The man simply wills his teams to not only be competitive, but win. “He has lost in the Finals” is a really common phrase brought up by the haters, neglecting the fact that two of the All Time greats in Magic and Kareem lost 4 finals. They will claim he is not clutch, but look at who LeBron has had on his teams compared to the Lakers of the 80’s. Sure there was Wade, Bosh, Love and Kyrie, but are any of those, Worthy or Jabar? Wade is a Hall of Famer, maybe Irving if he keeps playing like this, but are Ty Lou and Erik Spoelstra a reincarnation of Pat Riley? Bench wise has anything Miami and Cleveland provided to LeBron been the same as the Lakers bench of AC Green, Kurt Rambis and Mychal Thompson?
Then comes the hate for LeBron “starting the ‘Super Team'”. Lets get one thing straight, Super Teams have been assembled in the NBA time and time again. LeBron, Wade and Bosh teamed up to take on the Boston Celtics, a celebrated team that the Heat modeled. Wade (Paul Pierce) stayed with their original team, Bosh (KG) was the big man who left to be the third option, and LeBron (Ray Allen) joined as a playmaker. But lets go back in the past and talk about some of the teams we love to celebrate.
2000 LA Lakers: We’ll ignore the Kobe trade, but if only they had an absolutely dominate player that went to the Finals with his original team and tore the hearts out of the fans, helping to spiral that team into obscurity… Oh wait, isn’t that what Shaq did? Then, if only they could lure a big part of a championship caliber team away to shoot the long ball, and just to be on the safe side the NBA’s leading 3-point shooter at the time (Robert Horry and Glenn Rice). Doesn’t it make you happy knowing that teams were never bought in the past? (We’ll ignore the ’04 Lakers)
1996 Chicago Bulls: Yes even the most celebrated team had to buy some pieces. Like trading Will Purdue (I’ll let you look him up) to the Spurs for Dennis Rodman. I mean seems fair right? Then they signed Ron Harper who was an All-Star and 22 point per game player for the Clippers and to just drive home the point, signed former Bad Boy John Salley at the mid way point of the season, starting the whole “Release and wait for 30 days” trend we see in the NBA on occasion.
There are a long list of teams that went out and gobbled up some of the most talented players in the NBA all in hopes of establishing a dynasty, thus why you shouldn’t hate on the Warriors either. This is a different age in basketball, and sitting there as a hater of LeBron James, denying the impact he has on a game is not only ignorant, but makes you look like that old guy in his tightie whities screaming “Get Off My Lawn!”
Game recognize game and real love real, by being a hater and refusing to acknowledge LeBron James contributions to the League, you’re refusing to acknowledge this era of basketball. LeBron James has a real opportunity to be in 10 consecutive NBA Finals, 11 for his career, and could still possibly win each one. The guy is good… He’ll never be Jordan, but Jordan will never be LeBron.
At the end of the day, the man is still a first ballot Hall of Fame basketball player and his story isn’t over. Don’t hate, it’s not a good look on anyone.