Friday, June 01, 2007

Playoff Legacy Watch: LeBron James

The hyperbole is already everywhere, but the thing is, it might not be hyperbole. It might all be justified.

But let's look beyond LeBron's immediate playoff performance for a moment to examine his legacy.

In basketball, there are three career accomplishments that stand out above all others. There are single game and single season accomplishments that are grand, too--however, these three players' cumulative achievements are simply epic in NBA history, and I don't see anything close.

Is LeBron James capable of matching any of these accomplishments?

10 Scoring Titles (Michael Jordan)
It's possible that in another year or two, LeBron is going to be by far the best scorer in the league. But I don't see him getting to 10--Jordan's accomplishment in that regard is almost insurmountable.

11 NBA Championships (Bill Russell)
I would like to say there is no chance of another individual player winning 11 championships. But if somehow LeBron wins a championship this year, with this Cleveland team, I put no ceiling on what he will do. Someday he might get onto a good team that will win 73 games. I would still say he's not getting to 11, though.

6 MVPs (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
This is LeBron's record to break. I think soon, possibly next season or maybe the year after, LeBron will win his first MVP trophy. He'll likely be deserving of MVP every year after that (though you never know what voters might do). I think LeBron will eventually win six or more MVP awards.


  1. You're an idiot.

  2. Anonymous2:00 PM

    I must agree with j-rod. One game does not make a 6 time MVP or a 10 time scoring champion.
    Not that sure they even win this series despite the NBA rigging it so "Lebron" gets in the finals for ratings.

  3. I'm not basing this on one game; I'm basing it on a 22 year old with a career average (over four years) of around 27-6-6.

  4. So it's merely a coinicidence that you brought this up the day after the game?

    Where was this argument after the season ended? His averages were in, why wait until after game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals?

  5. Of course I'm talking in the context of a big playoff game when I'm examining LeBron's historic potential. But that's an entirely different thing than saying LeBron has only had one good game.

  6. Anonymous8:38 PM

    i dont know why those two are ripping you, you did use the word "might", and all you are asking is its possible for LeBron to accomplish any of these feats. I personally dont like lebron but do think hes a pretty good player, I dont think he'll reach any of these levels purley because of the level of competition in the league these days (not that there wasnt competition back then). I think youre right in saying that the most likely one for him to break would be the MVP's but with Wade, Mello, Oden, Durant, Kobe, Parker, Nash, Nowitcki, and many more to come even that will be hard for LeBron to reach.

  7. I agree with you, PV, and believe LeBron can, though it will be tough, achieve 6+ MVPs. He's 22, and clearly the heir apparent to Jordan.

  8. Yea you're right anonymous but one game can save the NBA Playoffs and one game can ultimately lead to you winning a championship which can lead to a legacy. It will be interesting if King James can get passionate again and put away Detroit.

  9. I don't think the 6 MVPs is really an accomplishment the way the others are. It's based on votes and not performance. Jordan would have broken it if voters hadn't become sick of voting for him and given two to Malone.

  10. The real question here is whether LeBron is the NBA's next game-defining player. I'd say he's the first player to be able to lay serious claim to being Jordanesque.

  11. Phil, you could also argue Kareem should have won every MVP from '71-'80 if the voters didn't get sick of voting for him.

    I like the cumulation of individual season accomplishments because it's not merely an accumulation of stats, but shows dominance over several seasons.

  12. I would make that arguement. You have already pointed out that Kidd is a better pg than Nash, but Nash has two MVPs. Should Nash be remembered as accomplishing more than Kidd, Shaq or Kobe?

    The MVP is not an accomplishment but an award, and a vague one.

  13. But it's not so vague as all that. A group of people recognized a player as being dominant for that season. Sometimes that group of people is wrong. More often, I think they are right. And when that group of people cumulatively decides six different times that a certain player is the best, that means something.

    You could also argue that Russell's championships aren't an accomplishment for him, since he relied on good teammates to help him win.

    You could also argue that Jordan's scoring titles were partly a matter of chance, since if he were a contemporary of Wilt in his prime, he wouldn't have 10 scoring titles.

    The accomplishment of 6 MVPs is not so far away from the accomplishment of 10 scoring titles or 11 championships.

  14. Also, it seems to me that it's only in the 00s that MVP voters have started screwing around. There have been other years where the winner was certainly debatable, but the MVP ended up being a dominant big man or dominant scoring guard. When Nash won back-to-back MVPs, it might have crippled the MVP credibility forever--but before that, MVP was usually awared pretty accurately. There are a few debatable years, as I said, but it was always clearly a dominating player that won.

  15. The difference is scoring titles and championships are facts achieved on court, MVP is a subjective award given based on ones interpretation of what an MVP is. I can't debate either, as I might argue that Jordan was more deserving of MVP than Malone in 96-97. Sure he was dominant, but was he the most dominant as the MVP indicates? Not sure.

    I think Jabbars scoring total is a more imprssive mark that might never be touched.

  16. That the MVP is subjective doesn't make winning six of them less impressive to me.

  17. Anonymous5:10 PM

    How good is Lebron now?