LeBron James’ legacy has changed – dramatically so – in each of the last four years.
In 2011, after losing to Dallas in the NBA Finals, the question was, Will LeBron ever win a title? In 2012, after beating Oklahoma City, it was, LeBron finally has the monkey off his back. In 2013, after beating San Antonio for his second straight title, it was, How many rings can LeBron win? Will he catch Michael Jordan? And, after losing to San Antonio in 2014 – pushing his Finals record to 2-3 – the question is, Why does LeBron come up short more often than not when it matters most?
Is it fair to break down James’ legacy each year? Or should we just let his career run its course and make judgments then?
“I think it’s fun,” former NBA player and current Pelicans analyst David Wesley said on The Damon Amendolara Show. “I think that maybe it’s hard to say fair or unfair because there is a fair part of it. Everybody compares him to the greats. He’s talked about being on the Mount Rushmore of basketball players, so he’s going to be a target for those kinds of comparisons and comments. (It’s) unfair because he’s in the middle of his career. He’s in the middle of his prime. And we have to wait and see to see kind of (what) real comparisons he will have.”
“The guys he’s being compared to had long, productive careers,” Wesley continued. “And him at 29, he has a lot of career left. He has two championships, he has four MVPs (and two Finals MVPs). He’s right there. He’s going to go down as one of the greats.”
“Can he stay healthy? Can he stay on teams that are relevant? Those are the things that are going to make the difference in whether he wins another championship or another two championships or another three championships.”
The player James is compared to most often, of course, is Jordan. Many feel Jordan is the greatest player of all time, and many feel that James has a chance to at least catch – if not surpass – Jordan when all is said and done. But is this really a fair comparison?
Wesley doesn’t think so.
“Their games are very, very different,” he said. “His game is more like Oscar Robertson’s. He’s going to go out and get you a bunch of every stat, which he does better than Jordan. He’ll have triple-doubles and things like that, so he plays a lot different. He doesn’t have the killer instinct, I think, like a Jordan or even a Kobe. I think the comparisons with Kobe and Michael are more comparable (in terms of) position and type of play than it is with LeBron. I think LeBron is going to be his own category of player – kind of like Oscar, somebody who can do a little bit of everything.”
“He’s always going to get the knock of whether he should shoot at the end of games or pass, (but) he’s going to always make the right basketball play,” Wesley continued. “I think that’s what really makes him unique.”