LeBron James
Photo: Harry How/ Getty Images

Many basketball fans around the world argue that LeBron James is the best player in the history of the NBA. Is that the truth, though?

The superstar of the Los Angeles Lakers has been dominating the league since 2003. Three-time champion, three-time NBA Finals MVP, four-time NBA MVP and 16-time NBA All-Star. James has won every trophy and has set many records in his great career.

Since becoming the best player in the league, his name has been included in the conversation for the best NBA player of all time, alongside Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and many others.

Most times, though, the conversation is limited to just two players, James and Jordan. Many fans believe James is the greatest player in NBA history. Others argue that Jordan is the greatest of all time (GOAT).

Using a plethora of arguments, such as individual records, number of titles, number of NBA Finals appearances etc, each side is trying to prove their point on why James or Jordan is the greatest player in history.

Even well known NBA analysts, like Skip Bayless, Shannon Sharpe, Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman, take part in this debate and express their opinion during their respective shows.

However, in my opinion, it is very difficult to choose who the greatest player is. That’s because there are many factors that need to be taken into account.

The most important one is that the two legends played in different eras. Jordan dominated the league in the 1990s with the Chicago Bulls. Meanwhile, James joined the NBA in 2003, a few months after Jordan retired from professional basketball.

LeBron James Michael Jordan
Photo: Chris Szagola; Beth A. Keiser / Associated Press

Even though LeBron James is an MVP candidate almost every year, nobody knows if he could be that great competing in the 80s or 90s, when the playing style was much different (many people call the NBA ‘soft’ nowadays).

Both players were part of excellent teams (Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, James with the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers), but it was obvious they could not lead their respective squads to the top on their own; they needed help from their teammates.

Jordan played alongside Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen. James needed the help of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen (in Miami) and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love (in Cleveland) to win his three NBA titles.

Of course, there are plenty of arguments that fans (or haters) can use to favor either side. Yet, this would be unfair to not only Jordan and James, but other NBA icons that had a legendary career.

Such icons are Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Larry Bird or Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan and the late Kobe Bryant (in the modern era of the NBA).

All of them revolutionized the game and made the NBA one of the best leagues in the world. And, as a result, they deserve to be added to the conversation for the greatest player in NBA history.

However, the same criteria should be used in order to compare these icons and that’s why there is no answer as to whether James is the best player in NBA history.

Because James should be compared to Bryant or O’Neal or Duncan, with whom he played numerous times as an opponent.

On the other hand, Jordan (should be compared) to Johnson and Bird and the other superstars he faced in his iconic career.

Shaquille O'Neal Kobe Bryant
Photo: Bleacher Report

Overall, this debate can last forever and the question “who is the greatest NBA player” has no answer. As far as I am concerned, up to 10 players can be included in that list, based on their individual accomplishments.

No one can deny, though, that LeBron James is one of the best and most dominant players the NBA has ever seen.