Is Lebron the modern day Karl Malone?
Magic Johnson said a very interesting thing during halftime of a NBA game last weekend when interviewing Lebron James about winning his 2nd MVP award:
“The torch has been passed from Dr. J to Larry and myself, and we passed to Michael, who passed it to Kobe and Shaq, and now its to you.”
Of those 6 guys mentioned not named Lebron, a total of 21 titles have been won, or 3.5 per guy. Lebron has won a total of zero titles, making the Finals once and getting swept by the Spurs. And frankly, the Eastern Conference has not been stellar over Lebron’s career, so I don’t think that is a great accomplishment.
Now, Lebron has another 10-15 years in his career, so it’s not like he won’t have many chances to win a title, maybe even this season. But, the way the Cavs are built now, with Lebron going 1 on 5 in crunch time, I don’t foresee them winning many titles with that strategy. If Lebron goes to the Knicks or Nets next season, those teams will be better but are very unlikely to be title contenders immediately.
So, the question is: Can Lebron be considered an all-time great without a title?
Out of the NBA’s All-Time 50 greatest players, released in 1997, Charles Barkley, Elgin Baylor, Dave Bing, Patrick Ewing, George Gervin, Nate Thurmond, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Pete Maravich did not win a title in their careers. Of the players who have come along since then who would likely be included now in the Top 50, Allen Iverson and Steve Nash are the only ones I can think of that have not won a title.
Now, let me ask you, all of the players above are certainly considered great but an All-time great, in my mind, is a Top 10 player. Karl Malone is the only one that I think is under consideration for Top 10, and he is a fringe candidate FOR THE SHEAR FACT HE NEVER WON A TITLE.
Now, I think Lebron is probably the best TALENT to ever play in the NBA, and I truly hope he does win some titles. I like the guy. He’s personable, plays the game hard, and stays out of trouble on and off the court. But, I think the all-time great label being thrust upon him is a little premature. If the world ended today, I would argue that Dwayne Wade had a better career than Lebron. The title makes the difference.
So, what’s your thoughts? Is Lebron such a unique talent, maybe the greatest talent, that he doesn’t need the title on his resume? Or is it a requirement in the NBA?
(TERRENCE JONES UPDATE: Reports are coming out of Portland that TJ washed his face this morning because he wants to look his best in a UK jersey.)