Is naming a player the GOAT an unfair comparison?


Whether you follow the NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL, every sports fan has at some point had the same conversation: who is the greatest of all time? The pool of names in the hat usually stays the same no matter who you talk to; it’s either LeBron, MJ and Kareem. However, it’s not often that you can have a dry debate with your friends where everyone is in agreement on that single player, and frankly it can even get a bit heated.

LeBron James or GOAT James?

It’s no surprise that Millennial fans often refer to Lebron James as the man above the rest. After nearly two decades of domination in the league, many are calling him the greatest of all time; it seems it only strengthens the argument. NBA betting odds say his Los Angeles Lakers are the 10/21 favorites to dominate the NBA Western Conference this year, and he’s one of the driving factors behind that.

One of the biggest influences for fans naming Lebron as the GOAT is his extraordinary records. He is the only player in league history to make the top 10 for points and assists. He has more playoff points than any other player. He holds the record for most triple doubles in the NBA Finals. He was even in the new Space Jam movie, a nod to the fictional appearance of Michael Jordan in the original.

However, many will tell you that basketball is more than a numbers game, and there are players who deserve GOAT status more. Maybe no more than Michael Jordan.

MJ’s case

MJ is arguably Lebron’s biggest competition in the debate. The man has one of Nike’s most successful designs that bears his name. Although statistically speaking, Lebron’s accomplishments outweigh those of Jordan; their rewards are almost neck and neck.

You could argue that Jordan’s resume is more impressive – he has six championship rings versus four for Lebron, and each of them has an MVP performance per ring. MJ has more MVP awards in the regular season – five to four for LeBron – but three fewer All-Star selections. Of course, all of those numbers are still beatable as Lebron still has a few good years in the NBA.

But why compare?

The conversation could go on for hours, even days, and most still couldn’t come to an agreement. But this is more than a personal opinion. In fact, the argument is almost impossible to win. You see, sport and, in turn, the debate over who the GOAT is does not exist in a bubble. The league itself is now ¾ century old, has hosted thousands of players and, more importantly, has increased tenfold changes in rules and styles of play. Statistics hardly make sense in these debates when the we realize, for example, that there was no three-point line until 1979, almost 50 years after the creation of the league.

The way basketball was played in the 1960s is almost unrecognizable from the style of today. The towering centers were the most valuable asset of any franchise, with legends such as Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell dominating the court. The merger in the ’70s increased the pool of players and teams in the league, and by the end of the decade we were starting to see the game evolve into a sport that was very slightly similar to what we see in 2021. ., It was only in the 1980s that sport really took hold.

The way the game has evolved makes it virtually impossible to name a single GOAT. You can speculate all you want about how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would be fair in the game as we know it, or what kind of average Lebron would set up a pre-merge, but the fact remains that we can’t. the knowledge. The conversation is essentially doing a disservice to those who have come to times that many of us weren’t even alive to see.

The passing of the late Kobe Bryant opened the eyes of basketball fans around the world for a short time, at least. Millions of people cried over a spectacular career and asked, “Why compare when we can just appreciate?” “. It even echoes a sentiment expressed by Bryant himself, who, constantly faced with the question of where he ranks among Lebron and MJ, said: “We can take advantage of it without knocking one down. I love what he does. Do not argue about what cannot be definitely won by anyone.

While this is much, much easier said than done, maybe it’s time to put the conversation to bed, and the way it’s not to pick a definitive “winner”. Instead, maybe it’s time to put our differences aside and tell ourselves that life is too short to hang on to labels – enjoy greatness while we have the chance.


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