A recent interview with LeBron James by ESPN reporter Chris Broussard revealed James’ quest to be the best NBA player of all time. He’s arguably the best in the league now, and his back-to-back championships only further drives the thought even if he isn’t the best now, by the time his career is over, he definitely may be.
LeBron is always the talk among basketball fans. Those of the old school and new school whose constant comparison’s to the greatest –that being Michael Jordan for the purposes of this blog – only spotlight James’ perceived threat. In his interview he spoke about “dethroning” the Jordan:
I don’t know what it would take for the so-called experts to say that — that’s not what I’m trying to do. My goal is to be the best of all time, and that means maximizing everything I have. And I feel if I can maximize my game, then I can be ranked as if not the greatest, then one of the greatest…. I’m not trying to catch Magic or catch Bird or catch Kobe. I’m into maximizing what I have while I have the opportunity to do it.
James isn’t trying to dethrone Jordan, he’s trying to surpass him. His biggest challenge may be in public support. Believe it or not, people are still angry about “The Decision”. (I think they need to get over it). That bad taste in their mouths about James may never leave, and as such the court of public opinion may never regard him as the “greatest”, even if he actually is.
If it’s a numbers game, LeBron may top that as well. He’s young enough, agile enough and with five MVP titles, two championship rings and Olympic gold medals he is well on his way. For James, though, this still isn’t enough.
What do you have to do to become the greatest of all time?
I don’t know. I don’t know what it would take for the so-called experts to say that — that’s not what I’m trying to do. My goal is to be the best of all time, and that means maximizing everything I have. And I feel if I can maximize my game, then I can be ranked as if not the greatest, then one of the greatest. Obviously, I have to keep winning. But I’m a winner. I’ve always won. So that’s not a question. And I feel I will continue to win as long as I can stay healthy and be a part of something special.
LeBron James was born to do this. His natural talent and gifts were seen by his high school coach who planted the seed of greatness:
Your first high school coach, Keith Dambrot, said you’re an intellectual genius on the court.
[Laughs long and hard] Well, he’s not going to say anything bad about me. He was the first person who told me I could be special, really special. He was the first person who told me I could be the greatest basketball player ever if I wanted it. He told me that when I was a sophomore in high school. I just looked at him crazy. Then he started coming to practice and saying, “If you put your mind to it and you focus in, you could be the greatest ever.” I didn’t believe it, though.
Do you believe it now?
Well, that’s my goal. That’s what continues to motivate me — winning championships and being the greatest of all time. That’s my goal.
So with all this, what about Jordan? Well, James does consider him the greatest, but recent comments about LeBron by Jordan don’t seem to be positive. Even still, James still would like a sit-down his “Airness”
Do you wish you had more of a relationship with Jordan?
[Leans back pensively and starts smiling, as if he’s not sure he should answer the question]Ahhh, I mean, I don’t know. That’s a trick question. I do. I do at times. You know, he’s somebody who I looked up to, and I’ve never had a conversation with him about the game. I would love to sit down with him and just know exactly what he was going through and know what was his mind frame throughout all his special years. Throughout his pains — you know, not being able to get past Detroit, then overcoming Detroit. Or asking him, “Why did you retire? What made you come back? What made you come back again?” You know, everything that we all think we know. Just kind of having a sit-down conversation.
While I’d love to see that sit-down, and I think the exchange between the two would be worth hearing, I don’t think it’s necessary. Whoever considers Michael Jordan the greatest will probably never change that belief.
[LeBron is seemingly done, winding down his thought. But then he pipes up, realizing there’s more he wants to say. He gets louder, more animated.] And then also to hear him talk about me. I would like to know what he thinks about my game and ways I can get better. He probably thinks he can beat me one-on-one right now [laughing]. I know he probably thinks that. I know MJ definitely thinks he can beat me one-on-one right now.
It makes sense that one considered the next “greatest” would meet the one who set the standard. As James continues to get better, a chance to sit down with his idol is a rare opportunity, but James has to make his own way. He path to greatness will have its own set of challenges and his journey different. Michael Jordan laid a solid foundation for those coming after him. James understands the importance and impact Jordan made to the game. He can’t deny it.
If and/or when LeBron James surpasses Jordan, he’ll be blazing a new trail.So while I’d like to see James and Jordan have a closer relationship. The truth is, it’s nice, but it’s not necessary.
Your Jersey Girlfriend,