I spend a good bit of frivolous internet time making fun of and taking potshots at one LeBron James. As anyone who reads my stuff or follows me on the internet knows, I went to school with Stephen Curry. We’re friends. Objectivity is out of the window here. Curry and James are the biggest rivals of our generation (not up for debate), so I have a sworn duty to at least crack jokes at LeBron. These are the rules of the sport. And if you’re in the spotlight for 20 damn years like LeBron has — dude was on the cover of Sports Illustrated twenty years ago — then there’s always going to be fodder for jokes.
My favorite go-to as of late is LeBron making sure he took the last timeout of the 2018 Finals to dap up the Warriors, who’d just swept him, with his off hand and then showing up in the post-game with a cast on his shooting hand.
C’mon, that’s undeniably hilarious!
Bron, like most greats, has an unending ego and there’s no sin in pointing it out. In reality, the ego and missteps in his career — which are few and far between — don’t take away from his greatness. They’re just little fun moments, memes and narratives to poke at that have little real consequence to James’ legacy. It’s standard rivalry-based roasting and playing the dozens. To keep it a buck, valid arguments against the singular greatness of LeBron James’ legendary career simply don’t exist.
I’ve been pretty consistent about this: nothing will take away from the fact that LeBron James is one of the two best basketball players to ever walk the earth and is at the very least running a photo finish with Michael Jordan for the GOAT. There’s no solid stance against this.
LeBron is the greatest player whose career I’ve been able to watch from beginning to end. More importantly, he has stood firm as one of the leading athlete voices in the fight for social justice — in a way that Micheal Jordan never did. We can debate their on-the-court accolades until we’re blue in the face, but as an overall celebrity entity, LeBron’s importance and willingness to speak up for the most vulnerable among us easily eclipse MJ’s accomplishments.
Even with all that said, there are still people who refuse to even acknowledge James’ once-in-a-lifetime accomplishments. And it’s not just Skip Bayless, who has cashed out on hating one singular Black man for two decades and millions of dollars. Last week I asked how anyone can hate someone like LeBron for 17 whole-ass years and got responses from people who do just that. There are so-called basketball fans who will never see LeBron as an all-time great for any number of silly reasons: the Decision to team with Wade and Bosh; playing four bad games nine years ago in the 2011 Finals; switching teams; calling himself the GOAT that one time. Whatever. They’re all stupid. There’s just not enough there to knock Bron off of a pedestal or basketball’s Mount Rushmore. To be frank, there’s just some hater-ass energy deep inside your soul to watch what LeBron does and refuse to appreciate it. That comes from a place of misery. It’s got to.
Last night, LeBron secured his fourth NBA title with his third team and his fourth Finals MVP after averaging 29.8/11.8/8.5 and shooting 59 percent. This is his 17th year in the league. He’s 35. This is absurd. LeBron has been to the Finals in more than half of the years he’s been in the league. He was crowned as the successor to Jordan when he was a teenager and has spent his entire adult life in the spotlight, scandal-free, loving his Black wife and raising a Black family, winning championships, and calling Donald Trump a “bum.” This is objectively transcendent all-time stuff.
Through it all there are going to be people who hop in your mentions or barbershop conversations and call him all sorts of trash. Those people should be ignored because, well, they’re losers. “LeBron is overrated” or “LeBron isn’t great” or “LeBron would have been mediocre in the 80s” are non-starters in any basketball conversation. Anything short of acknowledging him as one of the GOATs is unworthy of debate or attention and speaks more to the person hating than LeBron himself.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll get back to my happy place of embracing the rivalry that defined our era of basketball and pretending that these kind words were never spoken.
*Goes back to reminding everyone that Steph is 15–7 against LeBron in the Finals*
Ah, that feels better.