I was just reading this Simmons article on Lebron James and it got me to thinking "what does LBJ need to accomplish to take the greatest ever label away from MJ?" First is it safe to assume that we all agree that MJ is the greatest ever? Good. I think it's important that we got that out of the way. I know that some people will occasionally argue that the greatest ever title should go to Russell or Bird or Magic or someone else but I think that at this point it is clear that these people are contrarians by nature and are probably the kind of people who drink RC cola and vote for Ross Perot. The rest of us know that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever and we go forward in our lives from that starting point. Every now and then a player will come along and people will get excited about the prospect of that person taking over the greatest ever spot. I get this. I still wish Tiger had stayed healthy, shown a little constraint in his personal life, and won every golf major over that past 10 years. It is fun to witness greatness in action. Look at how desperate some have been to push Kobe into this greatest ever box. Well, he doesn't fit. And, at this point, neither does Lebron. He still has a ways to go. I have no doubt that some of you are reading this right now and thinking "come on man, knock it off, Lebron is nothing like Michael and he never will be." This, I'll grant, is a fair take. I do, however, agree with Simmons that Lebron has put himself into a position now where it is conceivable, not necessarily likely, but conceivable that he could get there. That he could get to the point that the consensus is that he alone is the greatest ever.
So this brings us to the simple question of what exactly does LBJ need to do for us to feel comfortable saying that he, not MJ, is the greatest basketball player to ever play the game? Personally I don't think he needs six titles but he probably needs at least four. It will help if he wins at least two of these without Wade or at least without a useful Wade. A few more league MVP's and a couple of defensive player of the year awards will certainly help. What if he averages 25- 10 - 7 over the next six seasons while winning four titles for two different teams? Would that be enough? All this is possible, maybe even likely, barring injury or self the self implosion that seems to be favored by high profile athletes (or at least favored by the media that relentlessly hounds them). Will the "decision" make us all refuse to give him the label once he has earned it? Or will some be over eager to be watching greatness in action and give it too him to soon?
I am honestly curious to know what the Canis Hoopus community thinks about this. I am also curious to know if you are rooting for him to get there. Many of us watched MJ closely. Some of us were on the 7th grade basketball team when the first pair of Nike Jordan's hit the open market and remember clearly the pangs of jealousy as we watched that other kid run up and down the court in those amazing red and black shoes while we were still shuffling slowly along in our same old tarnished white Pony's. I'm not sure I am ready to give MJ up but I also do want greatness to come along again someday and I hope to see it and recognize it when it does. So what do you think, can Lebron James get there, what does he need to do, and do you want him to do it?