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MY ANGLE: After 20 dominant years in the NBA, LeBron James has rightfully earned the GOAT title

“LeBron James – All-Time Leading Scorer” lit up the Los Angeles Stadium on Feb. 27, as James scored his 38,388th career point. After a 20-year story-filled career, James has firmly established himself as basketball’s greatest of all time.

Despite James scoring the most points in NBA history, many stubborn people think of Michael Jordan as “Black Jesus” or “His Airness” and someone who can’t be knocked off his pedestal. 

To determine the NBA’s best-ever player, one must consider career achievements, individual ability and dominance. In all categories, LeBron James has proven his greatness. 

 The first fact Jordan fans use in their  GOAT argument is that Jordan’s 6-0 in the NBA finals whereas James’ is 4-6. 

With no context behind this statistic, it seems like Jordan has it all. However, James led a weak team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, to the NBA finals whereas Jordan needed a much stronger supporting cast to make the finals. 

It took Jordan seven years to make the NBA finals, and he has only made it due to the addition of Scottie Pippen. According to Bleacher Report, Pippen was the Chicago Bulls’ second-all-time best player next to Jordan.

In the 90s, when Jordan won all of his six championships, he needed the help of a super team the Bulls created for him. 

Apart from Pippen, the Bulls added the NBA’s best-ever rebounder, Denis Rodman, along with Bulls’ greats Steve Kerr and Horace Grant. 

Who did James have when he took the 2006 Cavaliers to the NBA finals, only in his third season?

Looking back at the 2006 Cavs roster, none of the players are recognizable today. 

Apart from James, only Zydrunas Ilgauskas (who?) would become an All-Star in his career and only receive that honor twice.

For the Cavaliers to have any chance of doing well that season, everyone knew James would have to pave the way to success. 

According to NonStop Sports, LeBron James played more than 40 minutes a game. He ended the 2006 season with the second-most minutes played in the league. 

In terms of effectiveness, LeBron James averaged 28 points per regular season game and the playoffs. James’ had more points per game than the second and third-leading scorers on the team combined. 

Even though James fell short of securing the title in 2006, he later came back to his hometown to bring Cleveland their first championship in 2016. 

From 2010 to 2014, James proved he could win championships although itw was with the help of a super team, the Miami Heat. 

However, as the “Chosen One,” James wanted to fulfill his legacy of bringing a championship to Cleveland, which made a name for himself in the GOAT argument. 

From 2014 to 2018, James not only had to bring a terrible team to the finals but also triumph over one of the best teams ever, the Golden State Warriors.

The GSW had three future hall of famers and is debated to be one of the best teams in NBA history apart from Michael Jordan’s 1996 Chicago Bulls. 

With the addition of Kyrie Irving in 2011, James had enough supporting talent to triumph over the GSW in 2016. 

Initially down 3-1 in the finals against the GSW, James and Irving averaged 74 points for the rest of the series. The Cavs were the first-ever team to come back from a 3-1 deficit and win the title.

Fast forward to 2020, at the age of 35, James brought a championship to another team — the Los Angeles Lakers. 

In all of James’ championship runs, he’s been able to carry teams of any skill level. James’ ability to carry teams comes from his ability to lead a team on the court, something Michael Jordan struggled to do until he got a good supporting cast.

Throughout James’ career, he’s been able to score when his teammates are incapable and lead teammates to smart, easy and effective shots. 

Michael Jordan, however, took matters into his own hands by driving to the basket and shooting more than working with a team. 

Besides James’ tougher career achievements and well-rounded playing style, his longevity is another huge factor in the GOAT argument. 

Michael Jordan only played for fifteen seasons, even after retiring twice. However, James is currently in his 20th NBA season and going strong, earning stronger stats than Jordan in his 15th season. 

 It’s true that LeBron James has the help of modern technology and healthcare to remain active at the age of 38. However, James also took better care of his body. It’s famously known that Jordan used to smoke and drink the night before games. 

Regardless of LeBron James’s highly dominant and story-filled career, James is getting older and his retirement is on the horizon. 

When talking about the NBA GOAT, it’s more important to consider what a player brought to a team and the game rather than the player’s number of accomplishments.

It’s clear that LeBron James is basketball’s GOAT. To see James’ ability to carry a team at the age of 38 is remarkable. All you have to do is turn on the TV and see it for yourself.

By Aaryan Gandhi

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