Monday night the Warriors did what most of us thought was inevitable; topping the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the 2017 NBA Finals.
It was a highly contested game, with a final score of 129-120. On the Warriors side, Kevin Durant kept up his usual insane scoring with 39 points, Steph Curry contributed 34 of his own, Kyrie Irving had 26 on the night, with JR Smith adding 25, going an inside 7 for 8 behind the arc.
Lebron James gave an admiral performance, going 41-8-13. He averaged a triple double for the whole series, which is the first time that has ever happened in the NBA Finals. His average was 33.6-12-10.
With another night of zero bench support, James was helpless against KD, who simply couldn’t miss. Andre Iguodala had a performance that made me reminiscent of his MVP NBA Finals two years ago.
Golden State was a super team that lived up to expectations. When KD signed with them, there were many questions posed. Is this fair? Will he gel with the other guys? Do they even need him?
As I stated in an earlier post, this outcome does nothing to tarnish the legacy of Lebron James. The man broke history by averaging a triple double. That is something Magic never did, nor the supposed “GOAT”, Michael Jordan.
Yes, he is now 3-5 compared to Jordan’s 6-0 finals record, but everyone do themselves a favor, stand up and pull Jordan’s shaft out from between your cheeks and think; if Jordan faced this GSW team, would he be 6-1? I know, how egregious of me to propose that His Airness could lose.
So let’s take away the hypothetical, and look at that perfect six for six.
Teammates, Criteria, Aura..
To do that, we have to ignore the fact that he never won a playoff series without Scottie Pippen. We must look past how it took him six seasons to even make the finals, as opposed to Lebron making it in four. I don’t think people truly grasp how amazing Lebron’s first finals appearance was. Yes, he was swept by the Spurs, but watching it, you knew he was something special. You could tell simply by the eye test that, regardless of the outcome, he was going to be a great player.
Is that not what we did with MJ? What earned him the GOAT moniker? The media and masses alike were already bestowing that upon him after his first 3 peat, so clearly, number of championships isn’t the criteria. If that were the case, then Bill Russell would be the undisputed greatest basketball player of all time. His eleven titles is seemingly untouchable, especially in today’s salary cap era.
Jordan barely has half that many titles, but apparently, that does not matter. Maybe it’s because he was such an amazing scorer. Well shit, if that’s the criteria, then Kareem Abdul Jabbar should be considered the best.
If it was simply based off of career playoff wins, then the Spurs core three of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili would rank ahead of MJ, as would Scottie Pippen, who took the bulls further without Jordan in the playoffs, than Jordan did without Pippen. Oh, and to the focal point of this debate; Lebron James has more playoff wins already, which one could make the safe assumption that, he still has many more to come.
The fact is, MJ isn’t even in the top ten for career playoff wins.
I say this because, we as sports fans, know that you have to look past the stats. Sometimes the numbers just don’t tell the whole story. Take the infamous “Flu Game”. Jordan only scored 38 points which, is impressive, but nothing mind blowing. However, when put in the context that Jordan was suffering from the stomach flu, it actually is mind blowing. Hell, I barely have the energy to wipe my own ass when I’m sick, let alone score 38 points in an NBA Finals game. It’s moments like that, that justify the argument that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.
Context, context, context..
I’m making the argument that Michael Jordan WAS the greatest basketball player of all time.
Yes, winning six titles may be impressive, but you can’t downplay that Lebron has made it to eight finals, seven consecutively. He’s had worst coaching than Jordan, and to be honest, way less support.
Would you take Bosh, Wade, and Allen over the likes of Pippen, Grant, or Dennis Rodman? Maybe? I would take the latter over Kyrie, Kevin Love, and JR Smith/Tristan Thompson/whoever the hell you want to throw in that Lebron has taken with him to three straight Finals appearances.
After watching Lebron average a triple double against arguably one of the greatest teams ever assembled, I was left awe struck, just as I imagine the NBA fans of the 90’s were when watching Jordan.
Is this “GOAT” argument simply a result of generational differences? You could draw a parallel from this debate to that of Brady vs. Montana, with many older sports fans still claiming Montana as the better passer, even after Tom Brady’s historic comeback vs. the Falcons in this year’s Super Bowl.
Maybe I’m just a young kid who doesn’t know anything, but here is what I do know; Lebron James is physically more gifted than MJ, he’s a more dynamic player, The King has done more with less, and barring any injuries, Lebron will retire beating MJ in every category except possibly the number of championships.
Atop the Throne..
Whether you look at the stats, or just the “eye test”, King James sits atop the NBA throne, even after this loss. But hey, at least Jordan can make some pretty dope ass kicks.
My final note is this; when analyzing the legacy of legends, regardless of the sport, you must look at the context.
With context as the key, Lebron remains The King.
Think I'm wrong? Come @ me on twitter @CoachMcghghy