I wanna get a quick prediction out before the game starts. Basically, either team winning will be fine for me. Dirk deserves a title and this might be his last shot along with Kidd, Terry, etc….Miamis gonna be a contender for like the next 10 years. Lebron can steal one now but waiting a year wont do any harm unless hes trying to match Jordan hmmm. That being said, I’m pulling for the Heat (Lebron) of course but I hope Dirk individually can get his first championship.
The keys to Dallas winning are:
moving the ball and getting open 3 point shots, Thats how they killed LA
Dirk being Dirk
The zone defense containing Dwade and Bron
Overall hunger and out hustling the Heat
Keys for the Heat winning:
That same suffocating interior Defense.
Stopping Dirk somehow
Guarding the open 3
Solid efforts from a nobody/bench player
Lebron being clutch in the 4th, basically being Jordan
All in all, Dallas has the better overall team but do they want it more? Will they crumble under pressure again? Will Lebron prove he is the new GOAT after all? We will see in about a minute! LETS GO!!!!
It’s like every time an NBA superstar Guard has a breakout regular season or playoff series with even significant late game clutch performance the Jordan comparisons come flooding in afterwards. There’s been contenders many but for the past few year Kobes been consistently heralded as the next Jordan especially as he seemed to be approaching his 6th title but its safe to say the Dallas sweep ended that. Then recently it appeared Rose, after a MVP season, was suddenly crowned the new (if by Bulls association alone) heir to the throne and we all know how that just ended. Meanwhile, we’ve failed to remember how ever since he stepped on a NBA court, (perhaps even before) Lebron was and always has been the next best thing to Jordan.
This past season, however, the whole sports world seem to suffer from selective amnesia which had much to do with his playoff meltdown against the Celtics last year and the decision fiasco which followed months later. I know its cool to hate on Lebron now but the undeniable truth is, Lebron has had as good of a year as he did in Cleveland. Its clear now that he should’ve been the MVP after all but since him and the heat have embraced the villan role the media gave him last summer it woudln’t have been right. The NBA need someone to hate and maybe Lebron needed some trials or obstacles to overcome in his relatively easy path to greatness.
Since joining the Heat everyone wrote Lebron off as being anything more than “Scottie Pippen” to Wades Jordan. Remember, Cleveland fans even shouted Pippens name out as if an insult to Lebron in his homecoming game. Scottie Pippen…..really? We all realize how ironic that is on so many levels now. Pippen is one of the 50 greatest players of all time and has 6 titles and apparently Lebrons number one fan. As if playing with two other superstars disqualifies you from being the GOAT anyway. Hmmm, well Kobe (in his best years) always had at least 2 all stars with him, not to mention a stacked Laker team. Even Jordan had Pippen and/or a decent supporting cast. Steve Kerr, Tony Kukoc and even Ron Harper were all very underrated in my opinion and then there was Rodman……but I’m getting off topic. The point is Lebron, despite everything he’s been through in the past year, has reminded us once again he IS the greatest player in the world and still has a shot to go down as the greatest all around player of all time when he retires.
Ok, notice the emphasis on the label “all around”. I had to point this out one I heard Pippens coments after the Heat won the eastern conference over Chicago. On the Mike and Mike morning radio show the next day he said:
"Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to play the game, but I may go as far as to say LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game because he is so potent offensively that not only can he score at will but he keeps everybody involved."
I hear he has since “revised” this statement but the damage is already done. Pippen who obviously played alongside Michael now works for the Bulls. He’s had a front row seat for every home game in the Heat series and I assume a great view of Lebron’s outstanding clutch performances in the fourth quarter of games 2 and 5.
To Pippens defense, maybe he was caught up in the moment. If you saw the game live (from TV) like me, you’d admit it was probably the best you’ve seen from Lebron this year since……game 5 of the Boston series (don’t remind me). Three nights ago against Chicago, Lebron hit back to back 3’s and a then midrange jumper to put his team on top for good all in about two minutes time to complete a thrilling 15 point comeback. I personally stood up in my chair in disbelief when he hit the 2nd three, but somehow I felt it coming and that’s saying a lot because Lebron wasn’t considered a very clutch player a month ago.
On top of that, everyone thought the Bulls had the game won but Lebron remained confident and somehow willed his team to win (with the help of a DWade 4 point play). Instantly, it reminded me of what Jordan would do almost every other night in the playoffs with the Bulls. I understand how seeing LEBRON also do this could make one think he is the best ever, especially for those who didn’t grow up watching Jordan. But now even die hard Jordan fans are starting to give Lebron his respect due me being one of them. I’m not saying he’s better than Jordan now (like Scottie Pippen the traitor) but I will reluctantly add a “yet” to the sentence. The door has now been cracked open for discussion ironically as it was slammed shut on Kobe bean a couple weeks ago.
Kobe does have 5 rings to his credit though. First and foremost, lets wait and see if Lebron can get ONE ring. Thats all that really matters. Matter fact, theres been plenty of great players who were said to be the next Jordan at about the same point in their carrers but for one reason or another their careers fizzled out and they never got a ring.
One name that comes to mind is Grant Hill who was as much as an all around player as Lebron with a squeaky clean image. Another great example is Penny Hardaway. I’d prefer to use him because he actually was Lebron before…..Lebron. They are both great scorers who also have an uncanny court vision for their size. It’s funny how he was also Lebrons favorite player growing up.
Penny, in my opinion, was one of the greatest all around players in his prime. Pippen says Lebron is the greatest all around player of all time RIGHT NOW. I’ve heard a lot of people co-sign this notion in the past few days but it has drawn more outrage. Personally, I’m not completely sold but the “greatest all around player of all time” debate it is something new and definitely one worth more serious discussion even though it shouldn’t be limited to Jordan and Lebron. Is Lebron even better than Magic in that department? No. And Magic was never really considered greater than Jordan so you do the math.
Right now Lebron is a bigger, faster, more athletic but offensively LESS SKILLED Penny Hardaway. Both haven’t made it further than the Finals. Both have games comparable to Jordan and Magic. We never got to see Penny reach his full potential due to injury, but who knows how many titles he would’ve won if healthy. Lebron seems to be in his prime but, honestly, he’s still getting better and has a lot to improve on. He hasn’t even peaked yet and thats what makes him so impressive.
The upside for Lebron is insane considering how hes only 26 and he’s accomplished so much just short of a title. At his 8th year in the league his numbers match up well with any player, even Jordan:
Jordan year 8 – 30.1 6.4 6.1 2.3 .9 52% fg 27% 3pt 83% ft
LeBron year 8 – 26.7 7.5 7.0 1.6 .6 51% fg 33% 3pt 76% ft
If Lebron continues this performance and even improves, the Jordan comparisons will only increase. Moreover, if he gets all the rings he predicted upon joining the Heat, there might not be a comparison left to be made.
As the Jordan era fades further into the past, Jordan the man seems more a myth you can discover on youtube than reality. Meanwile, Lebron’s impact continues to grow. As his legacy solidifies, he inevitably will take Jordan’s place…..and that’s assuming If he hasn’t already. On a basketball forum I read someone made a great point how “kids these days” who never watched Jordan, look at Lebron the same way today as Basketball fans during the 90’s saw Jordan. It’s hard to imagine anyone not knowing Jordan, but from their perspective Lebron has to be the best thing they have ever seen. As much as I hate to, I’ll give them a pass because they don’t know any better.
Now those who have seen Jordan play, not to mention even PLAYED ALONG SIDE HIM in the NBA, should have a more rounded and less biased opinion. They will almost always say Jordan can never be topped. Pippen is the first of many who seem to be inching their way to the dark side. I still can’t believe Pippen of all people had the audacity to say what he did, but I understand how the media loves the Jordan comparison talk so he may have had an agenda. It always makes for an interesting discussion on Sportscenter as we have seen this past week. As basketball fans we eat it up no matter how annoying it can be.
Now the debate has new life again with a new candidate or should I say old candidate in a new uniform. Usually its Kobe but Kobe can’t cut it anymore. Plus, did he ever do anything other than imitate Jordan? I never did think he would pass Jordan even with all his titles because the simple fact that he’s not an original player. Lebron, on the other hand, is one of a kind. He’s a little Magic and Jordan, but most importantly he’s Lebron, the King, the “chosen one” even as a member of the Miami Heat. Only time will tell if he will also be known as the greatest of all time.