LeBron James became the youngest NBA player to reach 36,000 points on Tuesday. James is the third player to cross the threshold.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who retired in 1989 after 20 seasons, is the league’s all-time top scorer with 38,387 points. Karl Malone, who retired in 2004 after 19 seasons, is second with 36,928 points. And James, with 36,001 points, could surpass Malone this season.
In a video posted to “First Take” on Wednesday, ESPN sports analyst Marcus Spears said:
“LeBron James is the best basketball player I have ever seen.”
LeBron James is “The King”
LeBron James is averaging 27.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game in 1,325 regular season appearances over 19 seasons.
James has won four championships (2012 and 2013 with the Miami Heat, 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers and 2020 with the Lakers). He was the NBA Finals MVP in each of those years. Additionally, he’s a 17-time All-Star, three-time All-Star Game MVP, and six-time All-Defensive Team member.
Needless to say, “the king” deserved his crown.
But is he the best player of all time?
Spears said James is the tallest, and he explained:
“I know that argument goes everywhere, but for me personally, LeBron is the biggest. It really comes down to… not just how his game has evolved, but how far it has taken to get there.
James has played professional basketball for more than half of his life. He was born December 30, 1984 and was drafted by the Cavaliers on June 26, 2003. The date gap is 6,752 days.
James has been around long enough to see the gameplay evolve through the new generations. James’ basketball IQ showcases allow him to adapt his game in the face of change. When he needed to learn how to shoot deep, he did. At a time when LeBron was already well known as a superstar, he still managed to evolve.
Spears referred to James’ growth saying:
“We talked about his inability to shoot, so he became a better shooter. We talked about his postgame he went on and became a better postgame player. He implemented things on his game, on his career, and he continued to improve at a time when he was already the best in the game. “
Of course, the Michael Jordan comparison will appear. In the debate over who is or was the greatest to ever do this in the NBA, Jordan’s name shines brightly in the conversation. The man who became the hallmark of the NBA superstar will forever be closely linked to discussions of “the greatest”.
Spears, a former NFL player, said his opinion was not just personal but supported by evidence. There is nothing he says that one could really disagree with immediately, other than personal biases.
“For me, being 38, and I know Jordan was back then, and I know people will fight tooth and nail for MJ. LeBron James is the best basketball player I have ever seen in my life, ”said Spears.
Spears graduated from the Southern Lab in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2001 and played four years for Louisiana State University before being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round in 2005.
Jordan first retired in 1998, but then returned to the NBA with the Washington Wizards in 2001-02 and 2002-03. So Jordan’s first retirement coincided with the final three seasons of Spears’ high school career, when Spears was also one of the nation’s top basketball rookies.
James, meanwhile, was a national high school star before being drafted in 2003 by Cleveland. So Spears, who turns 39 in March, and James, who turns 37 on Thursday, are contemporaries.
Spears clarified that James was simply the best he had seen play in real time, implying he never saw enough Jordan, who turns 59 in February, to form a different opinion. It seemed less of a comparison, and more of a recognition of the greatness he witnessed with his own eyes.
LeBron James’ Ever-Growing Basketball IQ
LeBron James’ statistical growth through his longevity speaks volumes about his level of basketball IQ. It seems like there is no limit in what area of the game he can learn to grow and dominate.
Michael Jordan was, of course, pretty much the same over his 15 seasons.
Criticized for his poor outside shot, Jordan feverishly developed his shot, especially from 3 points (17.3% as a rookie). Criticized as a simple offensive showman, he has become a devil in defense. Jordan was the 1987-88 Defensive Player of the Year and a nine-time member of the All-Defensive team that led the league in interceptions on three occasions.
Jordan’s burning desire to eliminate any perceived weakness was one of his defining characteristics.
James is averaging 27.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game at his age. His Lakers (17-18) may only be seventh in the Western Conference, but his latest milestone speaks volumes. Being the youngest player to reach 36,000 points is one of the greatest accomplishments of his career. This proves his long-standing domination, his ability to evolve and the level of his basketball IQ.
James lost a triple-double in a 132-123 win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday. He finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists – even with superstar Russell Westbrook who also landed a triple-double. James’ greatness, even with his team’s poor record, seems to stand out more lately.
Carmelo Anthony and Westbrook, who have combined for 19 All-Star appearances, are known for their dominance. However, when stacked next to James, LeBron almost drags both. When James is with them, he is seen trying to raise their basketball IQ. This is James’ mark of greatness.
Spears spoke of the impact James has had with his presence and absence from franchises:
“We talked about the great teams and how he created them, but those teams don’t do much after he leaves. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, I just think LeBron James is on those lists.
James has an oozing effect with his greatness which is that she pours into the players on his team. “The King” takes the time to point out the positives and negatives of everyone’s game and guide them to better decisions, ultimately influencing a move towards the next stage in their games.
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James’s greatness is supported enough by his stats and accolades, but can truly be seen in the effect he has on those around him.