Tuesday, June 21, 2011


LeBron James not greatest of all time


Read the text of Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame induction speech to understand why Scottie Pippen might want to go out of his way to tweak his former teammate by saying LeBron James has surpassed Michael Jordan.

During championship years with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan had a habit of creating reasons to feel slighted, inviting the sympathy of the masses and wallowing in self-pity.

So it’s not Pippen dissing Jordan that sends the cringe-factor meter soaring to Curb Your Enthusiasm levels, it’s the ridiculous opinion that James is the greatest basketball player of all-time. He was no better than third-best in the NBA Finals, ranking behind Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade.

Here are a dozen players from NBA history better than LeBron:

  1. Bill Russell: He won back-to-back national titles at the University of San Francisco and won 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons. A five-time MVP, Russell remarkably wasn’t the first player chosen in the NBA draft. Sihugo Green, a 6-foot-2 guard from Duquesne who played for six teams in nine NBA seasons, went first, Russell second.

  2. Michael Jordan: A six-time NBA Finals MVP, Jordan doesn’t get enough credit for his extraordinary defensive work.

  3. Magic Johnson: The most aptly named superstar in sports history, Magic is still smiling, 20 years after being diagnosed with HIV. The joy Magic exhibited playing the game was contagious and nobody was ever better at setting up teammates.

  4. Wilt Chamberlain: The Stilt’s skills somehow didn’t translate as smoothly to championships as did those of Russell, who had far better teammates and a better knack for inspiring them. Still, Wilt was basketball’s most dominant force ever.

  5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: The fluid, graceful 7-foot-2 skyhook artist was named MVP six times and won six NBA championships.

  6. Hakeem Olajuwon: The Dream had the best all-time spin moves, ran the floor like a guard and was considered by teammates as nice a superstar as ever walked the planet.

  7. Shaquille O’Neal: The Big Aristotle won four championships, and although he couldn’t co-exist with Kobe Bryant, he did get along well with Wade.

  8. Tim Duncan: The Big Fundamental’s highlight tape is best played to classical music. He earned NBA all-defensive honors in each of his first 13 seasons and has won four titles.

  9. Larry Bird: The Hick from French Lick talked trash on the court and backed it up with a phenomenal shooting touch, great passing radar and serious toughness.

  10. Jerry West: The best shooter and defensive guard of his era when known as Mr. Clutch, he became the best general manager of the post-Red Auerbach executive when known as The Logo.

  11. Oscar Robertson: The only player to average a triple-double for an entire season, The Big 0 advanced the cause of player rights by suing the league, a key move toward free agency.

  12. Bob McAdoo: Unless you grew up in Rochester, N.Y., watching Braves games on a fuzzy Buffalo station with the antenna turned just so, you’ll never fully appreciate the greatness of the player taken one spot behind top pick Larue Martin in the 1972 draft. Think a stronger version of Kevin Durant.


phi4life940 8 years, 7 months ago

You missed the boat Keegan....everyone in sports already had this discussion. By the way, we have portable telephones and music on compact discs...and flyng cars (airplanes).

And a Black case you missed all that too.

KGphoto 8 years, 7 months ago

phi4 speaks for us all. Thanks for saving us the time phi.

Pitthawk34 8 years, 7 months ago

Agreed. Get with the game Keegan...nothing is worst than reading last weeks headlines.

Kevin John 8 years, 7 months ago

How many days til Late Night In The Phog?

waywardJay 8 years, 7 months ago

This just in to the news Desk......

  1. Earth is Flat.

  2. I mean, the Earth is Round. Cross out number 1.

  3. Dinosaurs are extinct.

  4. So are Business Ethics in this country.

As for you list, I got one real issue. I'm not so sure Hakeem deserves to be that High on your list. Yes, He's probably better than Lebron, but seriously.... 6th best on this list. In front of Shaq AND Bird ?

Couple more names you can throw on there : Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, George Mikan, James Worthy, Willis Reed, John Stockton, Dirk Nowitzki, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, and Steve Nash. ( room for debate on a couple of those, but really.... What has Lebron proven except he can run up stats in the regular season..... )

Guys who could join that list in the VERY near future - Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony ( yeah Melo.... he's got a college ring, what has lebron got ?), Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard.

Guys who would have likely been better than Lebron had injuries not compeltely wredked their careers - Danny Manning, Len Bias,and Reggie Miller.

waywardJay 8 years, 7 months ago

Reggie Lewis* not Reggie Miller on that last list.

100 8 years, 7 months ago

Best NBA players of all-time:

  1. Wilt

  2. Michael

  3. The rest

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Exactly. The only change I might make:

  1. Wilt
  2. Wilt
  3. Wilt
  4. Wilt
  5. Wilt

  6. Michael

  7. The rest

100 - you and I both know we'll be scrutinized for our opinions, but Wilt was unbelieveable. Look up the numbers.

honk_for_hawks 8 years, 7 months ago

If you're going purely on stats and dominance, you can put Wilt #1, but I put a lot of stock into making teammates better and winning championships. That's why Michael and Russell are 1-2 on my list. After that, you can pretty much take your pick for the next 4 spots between Wilt, Kareem, Bird, and Magic (Wilt was better in the talent and statistic dept than all of these players, including Russell and MJ, but those other 5 are the best players in NBA history at making their teammates better and winning). But everyone values certain things more than others, which is exactly why few people have the same rankings. But Bob McAdoo at 12th? are you kidding me? I'm not even sure he'd be in my top 50 if I made a list.

100 8 years, 7 months ago

Thoughtful commentary... But look at Michael. & Russell's coaches during their tenures in the NBA.

Not even worth debating. Awesome. And awesome.

Now take a look at Wilt's teammates. And now his NBA head coaches. Again. Not even worth commentary. Overall, extremely poor.

Switch the team's Wilt & Russell played on...

And see who has 15 titles & "made teammates" better....

Ask any player who ever played with Wilt...

He was the best ever. And a great man. But a better teammate...

And even without all that, he still was left with an image that he "couldn't win the big one".

This in fact wasn't the case. Go look it up & see if Wilt ever won a championship.

As he said, what his team's were never given credit for, was the fact that Russell's Celtics teams were even pushed to the brink like they were, "every single time they played a Chamberlain team."

It was Wilt versus the Celtics.

Ask any NBA franchise which "player" they feared more: Russell, Jordan or Chamberlain.

I guarantee you we all know the answer.

Now ask them which one of these three players played on a dynamic team of well oiled pieces with a great coaching staff.

I think now we can all look in the NBA mirror & realize the truth....

Wilt was "Clippered" (albeit in Philadelphia & even for sometime in LA) for most of his NBA career. That's right.... Danny Manning wasn't the first to be "Clippered"....

But the thing about Wilt was always this.... he STILL looked damn good doing it, even with a bunch of Mother Teresa's for teammates.

Rock Chalk.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

honk - agreed that everyone values certain things more than others. I didn't get the whole Bob McAdoo thing either - whatever! The main point I want to make to you is - I love your user name! Should be a bumper sticker if it's not already.

Spencer Goff 8 years, 7 months ago

I wanted to throw up after that Bulls series when the media hype machine and Scottie Pippen proclaimed Lebron the best of all time. What a joke....

The guy played a series where he got defended by Carlos Boozer (the most notorious quitter outside of rehab), Kyle Korver, and Luol Deng. Who in that lineup was he not supposed to light up? Noah was relegated to "omg help me" duty stuck between Bosh and Lebron. Have you ever seen a pick-and-roll embarrass one guy more than Carlos Loozer in that series? Seriously, he should return his paycheck for the playoffs.

People fall in love with size, they forget to check the matchups.

Good Lord I am glad the Dallas Mavericks won. That picture of Cuban at the urinal with the trophy was epic; and if Miami had won dealing with the Lebron-fanboy crew would have been more painful than sawing out a tooth.

LAJayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

This is a phenomenally phantastic post.

It earns my Triple P.

Ben Kliewer 8 years, 7 months ago

I read the title to this article and was like "Well, duh..."

KU76erfan 8 years, 7 months ago

I'd be curious to hear Keegan's musings on the wetness of water.

David Hodges 8 years, 7 months ago

+1 This one warranted a grown man giggle. Good Stuff! Rock Chalk!

whatpoethinks 8 years, 7 months ago

Yeah this is jut repeating what we all know. Good story but the best article I read in a while was and it talks about the comparisons being made between Jordan & James...

LAJayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

The comparison really isn't even close, and I have no idea why anyone is still talking about it (including writing an article on the topic a solid 3 weeks after the point was relevant). Compare Jordan's first 8 seasons with LeBron's. LeBron is supposed to be the "defensive guy," yet Jordan had more steals per game AND more blocks per game while also having less turnovers and higher shooting percentages. Jordan was NBA defensive first team, I believe, 9 times and won Defensive POY in '88 (important to note, that was Pippen's first year with the team, so he should know better).

Oh, and by his 8th season Jordan already had two rings......

This is a dead argument, but a good way to generate internet clicks when nothing is going on with Kansas Athletics (and, yes, here I am contributing to it).

mae 8 years, 7 months ago

have to consider wilt and the early player's lack of our current rules. i am surprised to the no mention of shaq and especially kobe. i tend to think he would've taken down dwayne if matched in his prime. same with shaq and novinsky if both in their respective prime.

FarSideHawk 8 years, 7 months ago

If you guys haven't already, check out's all-time NBA draft. I found it an interesting and fun read...

kesmithstl1 8 years, 7 months ago

Fun discussion. Certainly a case for all those guys being on the list, but no Kobe?

David Hodges 8 years, 7 months ago

Raping girls knocks you down a few spots I suppose... allegedly.

Jeff Coffman 8 years, 7 months ago

The only player to average a triple double....Isn't that because some of the stats weren't kept early on.

For Wilt, you could argue the only player to score 100 points, and didn't he average like 50 points and 20 rebounds a game over a couple of seasons.

Anyways, some of those stats can be skewed. Clearly until Lebron actually wins a championship, he won't make the Top25. I think Stockton, Barkley, Malone and others are better players that haven't won a championship...basically I'm saying that Lebron isn't even close to being the best player that hasn't won a championship, let a lone to being the best player ever.

LAJayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Very good point. The league created rules specifically designed to make Wilt less dominant, so, yeah, a lot of things can be skewed...

longhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Calling Wilt "The Stilt" is a mortal sin, if you write in any place that has significance to Chamberlain's career. He HATED the nickname, and anyone who called him that.

If you wanted to be on Wilt's good side, you called him "The Dipper," "Big Dipper," "Dippy," or just plain "Wilt."

I can't believe a LJW writer would call the greatest Jayhawk of all-time by the nickname he HATED the most.

Kirk 8 years, 7 months ago

I had the same thought. To call him "the Stilt" just proves one's illiteracy in all things Chamberlain.

However, the gaffe is not unexpected coming from someone who makes the (tedious) "Russell's teams won more titles, so he was better than Wilt" argument.

I guess that's why Dick Butkus never made it to the Superbowl. He just wasn't very good.

Gale Sayers, too.

Jordan Smith 8 years, 7 months ago

Tom, let's try to stay away from describing anything about Magic as being "contagious." I'm surprised you didn't mention his infectious smile...

Ian Brown 8 years, 7 months ago

LeBron should probably just change his name to "He Hate Me!" I know the name was taken buy some jackass in the XFL or whatever, but no one knew who he was, so he doesn't deserve such a title. You all are absolute fools if you think Stockton, Malone and Barkeley were better than LeBron. I never thought Kansas fans could possibly be this blinded simply by the opinions of a country that is hellbent on conformity.

LeBron is an incredible talent, and he will doubtlessly go down as one of the greatest ever. Sure, he had a bad finals, but they wouldn't have made it there had it not been for his play against Boston and Chicago. Remember how DWade played in the Chicago series? Ooohhhh. We forgot didn't we? Because it's not en vogue to hate on DWade at the moment.

And did I hear someone say Melo is better than LeBron? Because he was on a team led to victoria by some dude named McNamara or something? Give me a break.

LeBron is just 26. He could play at least 14 more seasons. He has plenty of time to get a couple rings, since that is all that seems to matter for some odd reason when discussing ones INDIVIDUAL talent.

Word to the wise: Drink a heavy dose of Haterade, think for a minute, and then tell yourself "I know it is wrong to hate someone simply because he chose to play for another team, which he had every right to do. Furthermore, don't hate this man simply because I don't want to be ostracized for having my own opinion. And lastly, do not hate this MAN, for he is huMAN, and he is not perfect, and no, neither Wilt, nor Jordan, ever played a perfect game or series... Ever.. Because they too, were human.

Ian Brown 8 years, 7 months ago

Oh, and Jordan never dealt with an entire country that hated him; in fact, it was much to the contrary, everyone and their mother loved him, even Spike Lee was shooting commercials with him. Wilt, yeah, he knew about hate, but not Jordan, or any of the other players you guys have listed, not like LeBron knows hate. So before you become so judgmental, take a step back and look at the situation for what it really is. It's all about hate. People who have never seen basketball hate LeBron. People who never saw basketball loved Jordan.

No fear though. I believe LeBron will adjust quite well to being the villain and all the hate over the next couple seasons. By then, the media will be riding his jock again though.

Sam Constance 8 years, 7 months ago

Some of the "hate", as you drolly put it, is from unreasonable people who just love to villainize people. Those people exist for everyone and everything. Even Jordan dealt with that type of hate. Those type of people--on the fringes--will never go away. Those people existed before the general public opinion of Lebron went by the wayside.

But the rest of it--the displeasure at James' narcissism, which was never truly on display until this past year--is all of James' own making, so forgive me if I have a hard time feeling sorry for a guy who has been catered to his ENTIRE LIFE and now has to deal with some criticism because he treated the fans of a city that loved him like garbage, circumvented the NBA's rules that are intended to promote competitive balance, and passed on a chance to be a leader and show greatness to go play hoops with his buddies in Miami.

Is it wrong to "hate" a guy for choosing to play for another team? Or for having their own opinion? Or for being human? Absolutely.

However, I would contend that most people don't truly "hate" Lebron James. Hater is just an overplayed term used when someone wants to make all criticism of a person or thing seem over the top and ridiculous. It's essentially a pre-packaged strawman.

I would also contend that it's not the fact that he's playing for the Heat that bothers people. It's the fact that he was so much more obsessed with hosting an Event than how his actions would impact the people who, at the end of the day, supported him and paid his salary and made his lucrative endorsement deals possible. It's the fact that, in the face of criticism, rather than looking in a mirror to see if there is any sense or remorse for stomping on the feelings of fans that supported him, he listens to his posse tell him that the critics are just "haters" and he doesn't need to listen to any of it. It's the fact that he felt the need to go on CNN with his high school buddy, er... business manager, and say with a straight face that his skin color was a factor in public opinion of him--in other words, the critics are just "haters" and racists. Or in short, it's his attitude of infallibility and belief that criticism of him is everyone else's problem.

He is human and imperfect, like the rest of us. But there is something to be said for OWNING said imperfections. Admitting to mistakes (more genuinely than half-hearted, aloof PR statements long after the fact) rather than pretending they don't exist would go a long way towards changing the "haters" opinions of him. Because again, I don't think most of his critics are just "haters". I think they are just people/fans who expect more from him. I'm one of those people--I was a casual fan of Lebron's before The Decision and the subsequent season.

Sam Constance 8 years, 7 months ago

It just makes me wonder--when people who defend Lebron categorically dismiss criticism of him as just "haterade", do they really believe that people just turned from fans to "haters" overnight because he left Cleveland? At some point, don't you have to recognize that the criticism and displeasure with Lebron is more complex and thought-out than that? Since it's SO MANY people, and so many of them were previously his fans...

waywardJay 8 years, 7 months ago

Adjust quite well ?

By what, Scheduling another press conference? Demanding a trade from Miami to Los Angeles where he can team up with Kobe ?

You cannot remake DNA, and you cannot remake psychology in one night.... Lebron might win a championship or three, but I don't believe it will be because of HIS makeup.... I believe it will be because they won't be so desperately strapped by Age as their bench was this year... read, they will drop the geezers and bring in a bunch of young bench talent that is hungry ( unlike the Supposed King..... )

For all Lebron's talent, he has no mental toughness, and that is EXACTLY why I have Stockton, Malone, ETC. above Lebron.... It's amazing to me there are still apologists out there who suggest it's just a culture of hate that's wrong with Lebron. It's not perception, it's toughness and he's softer than Carmelo Anthony right now. That won't change by November, it likely won't change by June of Next year.....

I don't think Lebron will play 14 more seasons, infact, If he doesn't get a championship in the next 2-3 Wade might be done and he will have to find another Alpha to attach too. I would give it 6-8 years tops.. Unless he finds Kobe's mental focus, you know, Every breath he takes is in focus for a championship....

It's not because he chose to play for another team, It's the fact he decided to make a 3 month long spectacle of it, and then announced it on a prime time television show, and the way he arrogantly said he would win not 1,not 2,not 3,not 4,not 5,not 6... Championships like the rest of the league was going to lay down and hand Dwayne the Title, because Bronnie and the Bostrich ( saw it somewhere and it made me chuckle ) colluded to hang out in Florida.

Human? Are you kidding me? He's the King. We are all Witnesses to his Excellence. I didn't give him this throne, and you want me to feel sorry for him because he has imperfections? Sh*t, I could have told you that when he was drafted first overall.

Sam Constance 8 years, 7 months ago

"but they wouldn't have made it there had it not been for his play against Boston and Chicago"

I'm not about to put Stockton, Malone, Barkley, etc., ahead of Lebron James, since none of them even have the one trump card--a title--that would seem to be necessary to overcome a guy who, in spite of being a narcissistic egomaniac, is an incredible basketball talent.

That being said, I've heard this line about Miami beating Boston and Chicago on James' back before. And it's true that his play is what carried them through. That being said, in those two series, Lebron made more "bad" shots and shots that he has historically NOT made in his career than any previous consecutive period.

That's not the only reason Miami won those games, but that was the difference, this postseason, between MVP-caliber Lebron and Great-Talent-That-Shrinks-In-Crunch-Time Lebron. He played poorly in the 4th quarters of the Finals because he wasn't making jumpers, and his game is so one-dimensional (halfback slant to the hoop, anyone?) that he couldn't do things like post 5' 7" J.J. Barea up and wasn't hitting the I-Have-No-Business-Making-This-Shot jumper.

Lebron is easily the most physically gifted player in the NBA, and you are correct that he has another 14 (maybe 10-12 is more realistic, since it's wear and tear that matters more than age) seasons to build on his legacy. However, given the fact that his game is no more diverse now than it was when he entered the League 8 years ago (still looking for a post game, or waiting to start looking for a post game), it's no guarantee that Lebron will continue to have the same kind of success as he ages and he cannot rely on the fact that he can out-athlete 99.999% of NBA players to be successful.

One thing's for sure, he's going to have to spend his summers doing more than hitting the weight room and doing the whole "global icon" media tour BS that he's done for most of his offseasons thus far. He needs to hit the gym and put in some serious practice time making his game FLAWLESS. A player of his natural ability is wasting talent if he doesn't.

Jeff Coffman 8 years, 7 months ago

He has the potential to be everything you stated; however, in big time games he has yet to produce. Until then he won't be considered at the top of the list.

I'll be the first to admit if his longevity holds out than he will be better than Stockton, Malone, and point was do you really want to be on the top of the list of best players who never won a championship. With ring(s) Lebron will silence a lot of his critics, but right now he has to listen to them.

The big thing that happened to Stockton-Malone is they peaked during the same time that Jordan/Pippen were at their prime as well.

KGphoto 8 years, 7 months ago

Melo has beaten him in almost every head to head since high school.

jayhwkr77 8 years, 7 months ago

yeah this is an incredibly valid point given that lebron and melo have played sooo many meaningful head to head games in the NBA. are you kidding? i love the NBA but have you ever watched a DEC/JAN NBA game? a head to head victory in one of those games is realllly impressive.

KGphoto 8 years, 7 months ago

I live in Denver and watch plenty of Dec./Jan. NBA games. I'm not saying it's Bird v Magic, I'm just saying that Lebron is like 3-13 against Melo's teams since they started competing. Just sayin'. If Lebron had to play the Lakers and Spurs in the playoffs every year, he never would've made the finals. It's a valid argument.

Not to mention that Lebron isn't exactly any better once the playoffs start.

Dee Shaw 8 years, 7 months ago

I read an article the other day talking about the season Wilt Chamberlain had in 1961-62 during the NBA season that year. The statistics were amazing.

That year Chamberlain avg. 50.4 pts and 25.7 rebounds per game. He set the NBA record with 4,029 pts that season. Michael Jordan is the only other player in league history to crack even 3,000. Chamberlain scored 50 plus pts 45 times that year. Just how impressive is that stat? Michael Jordan cracked 50 pts. 37 times in his entire career. Chamberlain's 100 pt game was that yr. Chamberlain avg. 48.5 minutes per game. Playing all but 8 minutes that entire season. To put that into perspective, take Tim Duncan's best scoring and rebounding season--then double it.

jayhwkr77 8 years, 7 months ago

people hating on LeBron so much is ridiculous. if you wanna bash his performance in the finals, that's fair game. he didn't show up to play on the biggest stage this year. no doubt.

but people just bashing him...i don't get it. he's TWENTY-SIX years old. he hasn't even played HALF of his career. nobody points to the fact that at this age michael jordan had yet to fill up ONE finger with a ring.

i'm not saying that right now LeBron is the greatest player of all time because there's certainly a lot that needs to play out. but why doesn't everyone just sit back, and watch his career play out. we have the opportunity to watch a once in a generation talent. just embrace it, and if he ends his career in 12 years with a ton of rings...who knows, this discussion may look much different.

Ian Brown 8 years, 7 months ago

Thank you, 77. It's extremely difficult to find any back on this subject, especially amongst Kansas fans for some reason.

Sam Constance 8 years, 7 months ago

Possibly because Kansas fans have come to expect better attitudes and at least a speck of humility from their star athletes, having been spoiled by so many upstanding ones in our history. I think many Kansas fans uniquely understand the fan-athlete relationship, and bristle at the idea of an athlete having absolutely no regard for the fans that support him. That doesn't mean Lebron should have been required to toil in Cleveland for his entire career, but at the very least, you'd think it would warrant something like a page in the Cleveland Plain Dealer thanking the fans. Or at the very least, not holding a media event on national tv to rip Cleveland fans' hearts out.

And to jayhwkr77's point--I don't think you can compare Jordan and Lebron by age. They started their NBA careers at such different ages that it's only reasonable to compare based on numbers of years in the NBA.

If you're going to use age, then Jordan has to be given credit for what he was doing at North Carolina, further increasing the gap between he and Lebron.

I will agree that this conversation will probably look much different in 12 years, regardless of whether he wins a bunch of rings or not.

jayhwkr77 8 years, 7 months ago

do you have any idea how bad a lot of the attitudes are on the KU basketball team? haha i love KU, but as a current student, i see a lot of these players up close first hand. it's not always pretty. i just don't think it's fair to dislike lebron because of a petty mistake called the decision.

Sam Constance 8 years, 7 months ago

Well, all athletes at that level (pro or college) are that way to a degree. I'm an alum, so I've seen it too, and I think a large part of that aloof air of superiority in that setting is a defense mechanism. When you have all sorts of people treating you like they know you, but you don't know but a fraction of them, it's an easy way to keep strangers at bay in terms of personal interactions and avoid having to be "on" all the time.

But how a player looks/acts in personal everyday life is different than how one conducts oneself through the media, where everything is carefully thought out and planned. Or most times is. If one can't act like they have some humility in a setting where they can prepare and have the best opportunity to at least pretend they have it, then I'm of the opinion, that they simply aren't capable of thinking of anyone outside of oneself.

Plus, The Decision being a mistake can be forgiven. Everyone slips up. It was bad, but there are far worse things. My issue is that Lebron (listening to his posse) has, in the aftermath of the Decision, behaved with a general attitude that it's everyone else who has the problem, and that he did nothing wrong. All those critics of The Decision are just "haters" or everything is the media's fault. I would be over it and probably have a rooting interest in seeing Lebron succeed if he seemed like he felt any remorse.

Honestly, given his actions post-Decision, I'm not so sure he wouldn't do it all over again, even with the benefit of hindsight.

He's like an overgrown teenager who refuses to mature. He won't develop his game to overcome his shortcomings, he won't admit to mistakes. I simply have no interest in rooting for a giant kid who shows no signs of wanting to mature.

After all, he'll be fine with his life, doing what he wants to do, so what does it matter if I can't stand his mentality and lack of maturity, right? Such an immature mentality. When he grows up, I will probably once again have some interest.

LAJayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

"nobody points to the fact that at this age michael jordan had yet to fill up ONE finger with a ring."

Ummm... I'm calling total BS. By "his age" Michael had already won a national championship in college and a Gold Medal in the Olympics (when it was still amateurs that played, pre-Dream Team).

By the time Michael had played 8 seasons in the League (as LeBron has now) he had two NBA rings to match those other titles and accolades (including Defensive POY).

That's probably why no one points to it, because it's a ridiculous argument to make.

LAJayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Also, this is an argument about James not being "the best ever." Sure, there are people out there that "hate" on the guy (simplistic term that it is), but I have seen very few people "bash" him when making the very clear point against it.

There is a difference between "bashing" a guy and making statistical and factual arguments against a point. While the former does exist, most of what I see is the latter.

Kirk 8 years, 7 months ago

This just in: Honest criticism does not equal hatred. Or even dislike.

At this point, lebron is one of the 2-3 best players of his era, and with hard work (and more character and guts), he might become one of the top 10 best of all time. Look at the list. That's good company.

(Elgin Baylor belongs in there too. Look him up.)

justanotherfan 8 years, 7 months ago

While Wilt's numbers are no doubt impressive, you have to take his rebounding numbers with a huge grain of salt. At that time, most NBA teams shot under 40% from the field, so there were tons of rebounds available. Now, most teams shoot at least in the low to mid forties, so there aren't nearly as many rebounds to be had. So while yes, 25 rebounds is impressive, given that over the course of a game Wilt had 5-7 more rebounding opportunities (and because he loved his numbers, his teammates typically let him grab every rebound he was close to) his board numbers are inflated.

The same goes for every player from that era. Shooting percentages didn't really get to where they are now until the late 1980's, after the 3pt shot had been introduced and teams understood how to use it effectively. For that reason, I have trouble making the argument that any player that didn't play after 1980 was "the best ever."

When guys shooting set shots (not jump shots, set shots) could average 20 points per game and be all NBA (it happened in the late 1950's), or when 6-8 guys could start at center (happened until Wilt and Russell basically destroyed those guys), it's hard to say that those guys were the best ever when the overall talent in the league wasn't on that same level.

Wilt, Russell, Robertson, Baylor, West, all tremendous players, but because the league wasn't yet fully developed, it's hard to say they were the best ever because the competition wasn't the same. Wilt was the first super athletic 7 footer. Is it that hard to imagine that Dwight Howard in the same era wouldn't have averaged video game numbers?

Robertson and Baylor were the first physically dominant wing players. Is it that far off to say a guy like Lebron, or a Dwyane Wade or Kobe Bryant wouldn't have put up similar numbers?

And if Russell's Celtics had been forced to deal with teams like the Spurs, Lakers, and Mavericks of the last decade, would they have won 11 titles in 13 years? Could Russell's Celts have beaten the Jordan Bulls, or the Bad Boy Pistons, or Bird's Celtics, or Magic's Lakers? Remember, Russell, though great, probably would have been a PF today, not a C. Could he have kept Shaq in check? Could he have handled Jordan slashing and dunking (remember, most guards didn't play above the rim until after David Thompson showed people it could be done)?

Just things to think about.

KGphoto 8 years, 7 months ago

Nice points.

All of that is why I don't generally get into "greatest" arguments over different eras, in any sport. But also because I would have to have actually seen the player play during his greatest years to logically argue. It's the X factor. The eye test. When I watched Michael Jordon playing, I was absolutely certain he was the greatest of that time. So was everybody else. He had separated himself with stats and rings. And he would've won 8 straight if he hadn't walked away, and you won't find many people to argue that. But it's the clutch plays, unbelievable plays, competitiveness, leadership. The look on his face when it mattered. During the second run, he had most teams beaten before they played. Opponents were scared. Scared of losing. Scared of being embarrassed.

With Lebron you just don't feel threatened. He's trying to be Jordon. Jordon was trying to beat you. For that matter, the only other player to possibly compare to Jordan, that I've seen at their greatest, was Magic. He was going to beat you. That's all he cared about. I might put Larry Bird in that category too. But that's it. And nobody really feared the Larry or Magic like Mike. When they started playing that music during intros of Bulls' home games, I got chills. That was intimidating. That was greatness!

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

justanotherfan - i'm assuming you did the research (I did not!), but if NBA teams shot less than 40% during that era, one possibility is that they probably played much better defense than they do now. Twenty-five rebounds is impressive no matter what the other team shoots.

justanotherfan 8 years, 7 months ago

I did the research a couple of years ago. The defense wasn't better so much as the fact that most people couldn't shoot jumpshots consistently. Since a lot of players still relied on set shots when they were further out, the percentages were really low (since a set shot is easier to defend and harder to get off against defenders, particularly taller ones). Also, I find it hard to believe the defense was better since they shot lower percentages but still averaged over 110 points per game (no team that season was less than that).

Shooting didn't start improving until guys like Pistol Pete showed everyone what would happen if you developed an outside shot (remember, he averaged over 40 points per game in college). That changed the way people played offense.

25 rebounds is impressive, I grant that. But here's a peek at the rebounding leaders in that 1961-1962 season:

  1. Wilt Chamberlain - PH1 25.7
  2. Bill Russell - BOS 23.6
  3. Walt Bellamy - CH2 19.0
  4. Bob Pettit - STL 18.7
  5. Johnny Kerr - SYR 14.7
  6. Johnny Green - NYK 13.3
  7. Wayne Embry - CIN 13.0
  8. Bailey Howell - DET 12.6
  9. Oscar Robertson - CIN 12.5
  10. Willie Naulls - NYK 11.6

That says to me that it wasn't just that Wilt was a great rebounder. I will correct my earlier statement, because some of the teams did shoot in the low 40's that year. The best team in the league (Robertson's Royals) shot 45%.

Last season's leaders (2009-10) look like this:

  1. Dwight Howard - ORL 13.2
  2. Zach Randolph - MEM 11.7
  3. David Lee - NYK 11.7
  4. Carlos Boozer - UTA 11.2
  5. Chris Bosh - TOR 10.8
  6. Troy Murphy - IND 10.2
  7. Tim Duncan - SAS 10.1
  8. Gerald Wallace - CHR 10.0
  9. Al Horford - ATL 9.9
  10. Lamar Odom - LAL 9.8

The WORST shooting team in the league shot 43%.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

justanotherfan - thanks for all the good info. i have a sneaking suspicion that you aren't just another fan!

texashawk10 8 years, 7 months ago

Here's something else to think about when comparing players of different era's, the technology, conditioning, and training today is vastly superior to even 20 years ago. So when talking about how would someone like Wilt translate to today's game, keep in mind that would also have access to modern training and conditioning programs so he would still likely be one of most physically gifted athletes of this era as well. The one thing I really can't stand is when a person tries to argue that someone from this era would dominate back in Wilt and Russell's era. That is a load of crap because they wouldn't have access to the same training and conditioning that's available today. Because of the advances in training since the 50's and 60's it is impossible to know who would translate between era's.

Kirk 8 years, 7 months ago

Chamberlain was usually double teamed. So I like his rebounding numbers.

BCRavenJHawkfan 8 years, 7 months ago

Another way to put this into perspective.

How great would a player be if the rules were fundamentally changed to prohibit that player from having an advantage?

This has only occured twice that I am aware of. The USGA targeted Sam Snead when it fundamentally changed its rules and prohibitted croquet style putting. And basketball targeted Wilt when it widened the lane to prohibit him from having an advantage. Have there been any other players from Cousy to Rose that have had that kind of result?

tis4tim 8 years, 7 months ago

The NCAA instituted a "No Dunking" rule from 1967 to 1976. It's sometimes referrred to as the Lew Alcindor rule.

BCRavenJHawkfan 8 years, 7 months ago

I considered mentioning that one but because it turned out to be temporary I left it out. And, did dunking give Alcindor aka Jabar, a real advantage? And some could argue that the loose zone now allowed in the NBA is a result of Shaq, while others would say it was to promote more team defense. And to be fair, Wilt did benefit from a major rule change when the NBA went from 5 fouls as DQ to 6.

tis4tim 8 years, 7 months ago

I don't know if dunking gave Lew an advantage or not because he had the sky hook. If the powers that be wanted to slow Alcindor, they should have banned it instead. He shot 56% for his career on the back of what is probably the deadliest, most difficult-to-guard shot ever created. Wilt and Hakeem were two of only a handful of guys to ever block that shot and they were freakishly gifted in their own right.

Also, Tiger Woods might be added to your list. For awhile designers were trying to develop ways to "Tiger-proof" their courses. Of course, they did that by adding length to the fairways, a technique that backfired because it played right into his strength: drives off the tee. It actually killed the careers Corey Pavin and David Toms because they simply could not compete on courses with that kind of yardage. Pretty much half of tournament field had no chance of winning before they even teed it up.

Jason Montgomery 8 years, 7 months ago

Maybe this article isn't Tom's fault. He could have written it 2 weeks ago like every one else in the country and the LJW just forgot to post it?

Dyrk Dugan 8 years, 7 months ago

the premise is correct....LeBron isn't the greatest ever...and he won't prove it out over a long career. he's a very good player...but not the greatest. he's now 0-2 in his first two finals' attempted....Larry, Magic, Wilt, Kobe, Bill Russell, Kareem...all the superstars of the game never went 0-2..they all won it the first time, or for sure the 2nd time...(the above six, all won their first try) so it's really a moot point. shoot, even Paul Pierce is 1-1 in the finals...and he won his first try (finals MVP to boot.) this column here is not a LeBron hating column....Pippen opened the door. he shouldn't have said what he said...and now all the pressure is on.

Kudos to Mr. James if he can overcome it...but i doubt it.

Wilt Champerlain, as an athlete and a numbers producer, is the greatest player of all time....period. 30 points and 23 boards a game. never fouled out. that's another reason why he could grab so many boards....he was on the court a lot more than today's guys. the ultimate "he's got a motor" man. he weighed 280 lbs., and was a gazelle. who knows how many shots he blocked or altered...they never kept stats on the stuff. he had no teammate or coaching help (and this includes at KU), or else he would have won several more titles. look at all the HOFers he played against vs. Boston...good grief, it's not even a fair comparison of teams.

gchawk 8 years, 7 months ago

I would take Bill Walton over Shaq, for that matter I would rather have a healthy Danny Manning than Shaq. Without his enormity, Shaq's impact in the NBA would have been minimal at best, I just think that Walton and Manning possessed much more pure athleticism.

Sam Constance 8 years, 7 months ago

I don't think you truly remember how athletic Shaq was in his earlier years. Your vision has been clouded by Overweight Shaq.

He was dominant because, similar to the Big Dipper, he was huge and super quick and mobile.

It's hard to compare directly, given that Walton and Manning were both PFs and Shaq was a C, but I think that Prime Shaq would probably have been able to dominate Prime Walton and Prime Manning.

gchawk 8 years, 7 months ago

You're absolutely right, but this is all purely conjecture anyway.

Sam Constance 8 years, 7 months ago

Very true. Love me some conjecture with a side of anecdotal evidence. :-D

HawksWin 8 years, 7 months ago

Somebody please explain to me how LeBron looks 46? There is no way he's 26 or even 36. Where did those wrinkles on his forehead come from at 26? Did he take something to expedite his aging process? He had to because he simply ran out of air in 4Qs against Mavs. Perhaps Mavs knows something about his quickly aging body.

waywardJay 8 years, 7 months ago

Interesting thought process.....

LEbron was so genetically advance by the age of 18 that he was able to come into a league of Grown men and play relatively dominant ball.... Does that mean his career arc will be shorter because he was ready so much sooner.....

I know for the better part of three years he's played about 100 games a season and they say the point of no return comes during your 1000-1100 game as a pro..... He's played 627 games in regular season, and 92 games in the post season..... and he's had how many Olympic games as well....

That means reasonably... he will reach the point of no return in approximately 3 seasons, ( possibly 2 if the lockout is avoided )..... They say your "game" diminishes rapidly at that point, and unless you develop was to play to your natural advatanges to which Lebron has not developed as yet.

honk_for_hawks 8 years, 7 months ago

In all fairness, The Big O only won 1 championship, and it was with Kareem (a top 5 all time player). His numbers were extraordinary and had he been on better teams before and after Kareem, he might have won more, but he was a notorious pr*ck and his teammates rarely were able to live up to his perfectionist standards. I still think he is top 10 at worst (probably 7th or 8th), but its hard to say how his career would have been had he played his entire career with a Kareem or with Wilt or another similar talent. Would his numbers have been as good? Would he have dominated in the same way? Its hard to estimate how a player's career would have panned out if they were put in a different situation, so you can really only go off of what they actually did, which is why MJ and Russell are 1-2 on my list. They guys just won and stepped up in the playoffs consistently.

Steve Gantz 8 years, 7 months ago

Interesting list. If he somehow develops that MJ/Kobe killer instinct he'll vault past most of the guys on the list Keegan gave. If he doesn't, he'll still be an amazing hall of fame talent.
But as a few have pointed out, the general hating on Lebron is unbelievable. Every pro basketball fan in the country last summer hoped he came to their team.

LAJayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

I would call Kobe's instinct more "wounding" that "killer." Jordan never would have let his team get blown out by 40 in a playoff game. And he certainly NEVER would have been swept in a series when he had superior talent. Kobe definitely has drive, but no one has the drive Jordan had. Ask any guy that has ever played with him.

Stacy King was on Colin Cowherd's radio show right after the Finals, and he talked about a practice where Jordan's side lost a scrimmage to King's side. Jordan, apparently, begged and pleaded with Phil Jackson to let them go again. Jackson eventually acquiesced, and, according to King, Jordan's team won 7-0 with Jordan scoring all 7 points.

The guy was relentless.

Steve Gantz 8 years, 7 months ago

(sorry it took a while to respond, I have limited summer access) I only base my Kobe/killer instinct on the fact that he is extremely talented and had 2 very successful NBA title runs. Yes, Jordan tops them all IMHO in so many ways.

Geekinout 8 years, 7 months ago

Not a big LeBron fan, but I don't understand why Miami doesn't set him up more on the blocks and let him do work from there. He falls way too in love with his outside shooting.

Sam Constance 8 years, 7 months ago

Because he has no post game. He had plenty of opportunities to post up, when he was guarded by the likes of Jason Kidd and J.J. Barea in the Finals. The once or twice he did try it, it was an abysmal failure.

Problem is that he--by all accounts--spends his offseason pumping iron and doing "worldwide mogul" events. Not honing new moves and techniques for his game.

LAJayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

BTW, great post marchphog. Didn't mean to essentially repeat what you are saying, but I wanted to throw in Kerr's comments. They were so poignant and relevant.

Sam Constance 8 years, 7 months ago

No worries--I'm always for additional information and a deeper look at the picture. I hadn't heard those comments from Kerr before.

LAJayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

It's a major fault in his game. Steve Kerr said after the series that LeBron's biggest problem was coming up in the age of AAU coaching. He hasn't had the chance to develop under solid fundamental coaching like most do at the college level.

Kerr also went on to say that if he was him, he would spend the entire summer working on post moves. The whole summer.

Kerr was dead accurate.

Geekinout 8 years, 7 months ago

Makes sense... If he ever gets a post game like Jordan, Kobe, or even Pierce, he'd be hard to stop.

LAJayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Absolutely. He also needs to develop the mid-range jumper. He is a freakish athletic specimen. If he works at it, he can move up to be one of the better players ever in the game. But he needs someone to work with him nonstop on those weaknesses, and he has to have the drive to do it, which hasn't been apparent as of yet.

Creighton Coover 8 years, 7 months ago

This is such a pointless article. LeBron's career is far from over so why are we even talking about where he ranks all time. Let the guy finish his career first and then we can see where he stacks up with the all time greats. He has plenty of time to make his case for being one of the greatest all time.

Vincent Patterson 8 years, 7 months ago

I agree, dumb article. Of course he's not the greatest of all time. I will say that all of the hate on LeBron is really getting excessive. So he made a bad mistake with the way he handled "The decision" but as far as what he does on the court, you've got to be a fan if you like the game of b-ball. He's obviously got his weaknesses but he'll figure them out. Hell, it took the greatest player of all time (IMO) 7 seasons to get his first chip in Chi-town and once that happened it was over! I'm actually glad that LeBron didn't get the ring the very first year of forming the "Big 3" because it shows that in the end, true team basketball wins and there are no shortcuts to championships. You still have to work and improve like everybody else. That being said, you haters out there better be ready for a string of championships to come because once he learns how to attack the basket the ENTIRE game and start posting his man up and actually use his freakish size and athletic ability to his utmost advantage, there might be some legit arguments against this article.

jcepp 8 years, 7 months ago

Stop the presses:

a) LaBron not best ever

b) Clapton not god

c) Bill Mayer not worst JW columnist ever

I could be wrong about b).

The Lawrence Journal World: Yesterday's News Tomorrow

LAJayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

"A five-time MVP, Russell remarkably wasn’t the first player chosen in the NBA draft."

Interesting that you made that point, but not the fact the Sam Bowie was picked ahead of Michael Jordan.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 7 months ago

For all you young whippersnappers, Wilt used to decide BEFORE the season, what statisics he would lead in. Usually he picked scoring and rebounds but one season, he picked blocked shots...and did it.

And one season, almost as a dare, he picked assists...and did it !!!!

Switch Bill Russell's team and put it around Wilt and vice versa...Wilt would have won 15 straight NBA titles!!

If I was given the opportunity to play 3 on 3 with any players all at their peak, I would choose Wilt and Michael, set up a lounge chair in one corner and watch them kick everyone's a$$. You could double up one of them but you couldn't double them both!!!!

waywardJay 8 years, 7 months ago

I could Only imagine how Michael's drive owuld have effected what was largely describe as uninspired work ethic on the Part of Wilt.

It's not that he was lazy, but Jordan would have drilled him into a nightmare.

The perfect team has to have balance on it. You can't just grab the best 5 scorers of all time. You need balance.

Oscar RObertson Magic Johnson Larry Bird Michael Jordan Wilt

Certainly wilt and Mj woul dbe your leading scorers..... te other guys would support the team how they needed too.

waywardJay 8 years, 7 months ago

You could also make the argument for Bill Russell at the 4..... but that would necessitate Magic being your first off the bench because larry's a better perimeter shooter.

jayhawkdan62 8 years, 7 months ago

I can't believe there is no mention of Julius Erving (Dr. J). That guy change the way the game was played during his time. Michael got his game from Dr. J.

waywardJay 8 years, 7 months ago

J's pathetic display in this Youtube gets him bumped down a few notches.....

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 7 months ago

You can tell it's summer. Not because the calendar says so but because TK is putting out his usual dribble of "what if's" and "why nots" to provoke the masses to responde. Case in point, a lebron article a week after Dallas had it's championship parade.

I suggest we give TK the summer off, or at least let him not work as much. I mean copying and pasting those player bio's from wiki must of taken a good 20 minutes. So for the rest of the summer I say you just print a couple of words per story and let us do the work: Brady Roy vs Bill Sweet Lou Mark Mangino Track around football field There is a decent start that should keep us busy for a while.

actorman 8 years, 7 months ago

"Shooting percentages didn't really get to where they are now until the late 1980's, after the 3pt shot had been introduced and teams understood how to use it effectively."

WTF are you talking about?!?!? You were making good points until that comment. And you're probably right about shooting percentages in the 1960's and earlier. But I can GUARANTEE you that shooting percentages in the '70s and early '80s were MUCH higher than they are now. Teams used to regularly shoot around 50%. Just look at the scores in the late '70s: teams would regularly score 115, 120, 125. And that was BEFORE 3-point shooting. I would do the research if I had the time and energy, but I can tell you that I paid much more attention to the NBA in those days and there used to be a lot of players who could hit the mid-range jumper consistently. It was a completely different game than it is now. And given that even the best three-point shooters generally don't hit close to 50%, I don't see how you could think that would IMPROVE shooting percentages.

justanotherfan 8 years, 7 months ago

Presented without comment, shooting percentages in the NBA for every year from 1955-56 - 2010-11

Year - FG - FT - 3PT

1956 - 38.7 - 74.5 - NA 1957 - 38.0 - 75.1 - NA 1958 - 38.3 - 74.6 - NA 1959 - 39.5 - 75.6 - NA 1960 - 41.0 - 73.5 - NA 1961 - 41.5 - 73.3 - NA 1962 - 42.6 - 72.7 - NA 1963 - 44.1 - 72.7 - NA 1964 - 43.3 - 72.2 - NA 1965 - 42.6 - 72.1 - NA 1966 - 43.3 - 72.7 - NA 1967 - 44.1 - 73.2 - NA 1968 - 44.6 - 72.0 - NA (first year of ABA) 1969 - 44.1 - 71.4 - NA 1970 - 46.0 - 75.1 - NA 1971 - 44.9 - 74.5 - NA 1972 - 45.5 - 74.8 - NA 1973 - 45.6 - 75.8 - NA 1974 - 45.9 - 77.1 - NA 1975 - 45.7 - 76.5 - NA 1976 - 45.8 - 75.1 - NA 1977 - 46.5 - 75.1 - NA (first year after ABA-NBA merger) 1978 - 46.9 - 75.2 - NA 1979 - 48.5 - 75.2 - NA 1980 - 48.1 - 76.4 - NA 1981 - 48.6 - 75.1 - NA 1982 - 49.1 - 74.6 - NA 1983 - 48.5 - 74.0 - NA 1984 - 49.2 - 76.0 - 25.0 1985 - 49.1 - 76.4 - 28.2 1986 - 48.7 - 75.6 - 28.2 1987 - 48.0 - 76.3 - 30.1 1988 - 48.0 - 76.6 - 31.6 1989 - 47.7 - 76.8 - 32.3 1990 - 47.6 - 76.4 - 33.1 1991 - 47.4 - 76.5 - 32.0 1992 - 47.2 - 75.9 - 33.1 1993 - 47.3 - 75.4 - 33.6 1994 - 46.6 - 73.4 - 33.3 1995 - 46.6 - 73.7 - 35.9 1996 - 46.2 - 74.0 - 36.7 1997 - 45.5 - 73.8 - 36.0 1998 - 45.0 - 73.7 - 34.6 1999 - 43.7 - 72.8 - 33.9 (strike shortened season 50 games) 2000 - 44.9 - 75.0 - 35.3 2001 - 44.3 - 74.8 - 35.4 2002 - 44.5 - 75.2 - 35.4 2003 - 44.2 - 75.8 - 34.9 2004 - 43.9 - 75.2 - 34.7 2005 - 44.7 - 75.6 - 35.6 2006 - 45.4 - 74.5 - 35.8 2007 - 45.8 - 75.2 - 35.8 2008 - 45.7 - 75.5 - 36.2 2009 - 45.9 - 77.1 - 36.7 2010 - 46.1 - 75.9 - 35.5 2011 - 45.9 - 76.3 - 35.8

Clarence Haynes 8 years, 7 months ago

How can one make such a call when LeBron's career isn't halfway done?

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