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

On this point, I’d have to agree with Jordan on the LeBron vs. Kobe argument. Five beats one.

In the most optimistic scenario, James’ career would look something like this after this season: 10 years, two titles (back-to-back), four Finals appearances, two Finals MVP awards, four regular-season MVP awards and two Olympic gold medals.

And at nine seasons,he would be roughly at the halfway point.

He would be solidly in that all-time great conversation. His future would have unlimited potential, and we would allow our imaginations to run away with thoughts of “What if …”

At that point it would be conceivable the Heat could win three consecutive titles.

And it would be conceivable LeBron could win three consecutive MVPs.

He would have an entire summer to rest.

LeBron’s two titles would still be less than half of Kobe’s five. But somehow LeBron, if this optimistic scenario plays out, would likely be viewed as Kobe’s equal, or maybe slightly ahead of him.

That’s because LeBron is hot right now.

He’s got a title. He’s coming through in the clutch. He’s doing things we’ve never seen before, such as six consecutive games with 30-plus points while shooting 60-plus percent.

His legend could soar above the clouds.

But this all depends on LeBron winning a title and doing it in superstar fashion. This year.

I don’t consider LeBron above Kobe in the all-time best conversation. To me, another title still doesn’t put LeBron above Kobe.

LeBron is a better player than Kobe right now. But LeBron still has a ways to go before his career, and status on the all-time best list, could be considered as equal to Kobe’s. 

As for the all-time top 10 lists, I’d assume most of our lists include six staples. There’s the three centers – Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell – and the three perimeter players – Jordan, Magic and Bird.

From there you could pick your final four among a number of guys such as Kobe, Shaquille O’Neal, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Isiah Thomas, Julius Erving, Moses Malone and a few others. You know the list.

One title probably doesn’t put LeBron in that class. Yet. I’m not sure.

Two titles, however, and he’s in.

Three titles or more and, well, LeBron is not only on everybody’s all-time top 10 list, he’s in everybody’s conversation for Best Ever.

The fast track to all-time greatness is right there for LeBron. It’s within his grasp. You can see it coming in the next two years.

But for that timeframe to be reached LeBron, has to win a title and have a good Finals performance. This year.

Chris Perkins is a veteran Miami-based sports journalist who covers the Heat for Follow him on Twitter.



  1. RANDY says

    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.

  2. RANDY says

    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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