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.
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.