Perkins: LeBron is great, but not MJ or Kobe great

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MIAMI – LeBron James is the Best Player on the Planet. And the Miami Heat forward should be this season’s NBA MVP.

But putting him in the discussion for the game’s all-time best – specifically closely behind Michael Jordan and ahead of Kobe Bryant – is still very much in flux.

James needs another NBA title and another superstar performance in the Finals – this year – to cement his name in the “all-time best” discussion.

In fact, LeBron might not even be on my all-time top 10 right now. I’m not sure.

It’s a tough call. Titles and Finals performances probably keep him off that list. For now. It’s a tenuous situation.

Look at it this way: LeBron’s legacy could take a huge step forward or a huge step backward this spring, depending on whether the Heat wins a second straight title and how well he plays.

Talent-wise, LeBron is definitely among the all-time best. We’ve never seen a skill set such as his from a guy his size. It’s unprecedented and different than Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird or even Kobe Bryant.

LeBron is revolutionary in the way of Wilt Chamberlain. We’ve never seen such talents from a guy that size.

But because being considered the all-time best is measured, in part, by championships, it’s a fickle label for James.

A loss or a disappointing performance in this year’s Finals, and memories of the 2011 Finals against Dallas get revisited in discussing James’ legacy. And worse, depending on how things end, all the talk about James not having that so-called “killer instinct” also could resurface.

Yes, LeBron has been on amazing run over the past couple of years. MVP. NBA
title. Finals MVP. Olympic gold medal. Talk of a second consecutive MVP and second consecutive title.

But let’s look at the big picture.

He’s 1-2 in the Finals. He doesn’t get penalized for Cleveland’s 2007 Finals loss to San Antonio. Jordan couldn’t have led that Cavs team past the Spurs. Seriously. In fact, James gets credit for getting those Cavs to the Finals.

But a loss in this year’s Finals would make LeBron 1-3 in Finals, including 1-2 with the Heat and the “Big Three.”

That would be ugly. And it would be tough to put him into a discussion with guys who have multiple titles.

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Comments

  1. This subject has been way over covered and is going nowhere.

  2. Ooopps..forgot to write Moses Malone in the last sentence. Moses is probably the closest to Lebron at the moment since both have 3 MVPs and 1 Finals MVP. However, Moses is done while Lebron has just entered his prime and his is posed to get another MVP.

  3. Mr. Perkins, if you are going to set criteria, then at least be consistent. How can Lebron clearly not be ahead of Jerry West , Oscar Robertson and Julius Erving? Or Even Karl Malone and David Robinson? Jerry West NEVER won an MVP and has lost a RECORD 8 times in the finals! The one time he won, he had his worst play-off series and had to be carried by Wilt Chamberlain. Oscar has just one MVP and one championship, and zero finals MVP. Like West, his one title came at the time he was no longer the main man (Kareem was) . He went to finals twice, won one and lost one.

    The great Dr. J went to the finals 4 times and lost 3 times! He has just 1 MVP to show and just like West and Robertson, his lone title came when he was no longer the main man (Moses Malone was).One-timeMVP, David Robinson sure has two titles but they came at the twilight of his career. The fact that Tim Duncan won two more titles after Robinson retired has to be an indictment on Robinson. Sure Lebron was embarrased in the 2011 finals but is it any worse than when then-MVP Robinson was embarrassed by Hakeem in the 1995 ECF. 2-time MVP Karl Malone went to the finals 3 times and has no rings to to show.

    We can make a case on 1-time MVP Shaq because he was so dominant in his 3 straight finals MVP and 1-time MVP Hakeem Olajuwon because of his dominant back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995. But it’s not as clear cut as one may thought-Shaq lost twice in the finals, one via sweep. Shaq also was many times swept early in the play-offs. Hakeem lost once in the finals too. Thomas in 2-1 in 3 championship appearances but he never had any MVP and was just finals MVP once in those two titles. 3-time MVP and 1-time Finals MVP went to the finals twice, winning once.

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