Where LeBron James ranks among the all time great players is a reasonable argument to have. While the minority will claim he is the greatest of all time, and most people would agree his is among the top 10, there will be those who say that he has only two championships and failed to win one without recruiting a dream duo of stars to play with him.
Wherever you stand, the way he played in helping Miami win back-to-back titles should eliminate the cat calls and innuendo about him not playing big when it counts. While Cleveland fans can continue to be upset about his decision to leave, it is hard to knock his choice to put himself in an environment to win big and cash in on that success. That's exactly what he's done.
Skeptics will note that during Miami's dramatic NBA Finals game six victory it was Ray Allen who hit the Heat's most important basket. They will remind you that LeBron missed two potentially critical shots during the final two minutes of regulation and turned the ball over twice down the stretch. That being said, it was James who put Miami on his back for much of the fourth quarter and overtime. He shot eight for 14 over the final 17 minutes of the game, and became just the fourth player in Finals history to produce a 30 point, 10 rebound, 10 assist game.
In the clinching game seven victory, LeBron tallied 37 points and 12 rebounds. That matches the most points even scored by an individual in an NBA Finals game seven. He joined Larry Bird and Michael Jordan as the only three players in history to win the regular season and Finals MVP on multiple occasions.
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Let's not forget that Miami needed seven games to beat Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the blowout game seven victory LeBron had 32 points, eight rebounds, and went 15 of 16 from the free throw line.
Last year, when the Celtics led Miami three games to two in the Eastern Finals, LeBron refused to be denied. He had a combined 76 points and 17 rebounds during games six and seven while shooting 60 percent from the floor.
During his career, James is third all time averaging 27.6 points a game. At the age of 28, with perhaps a decade left in a career which may just be hitting its prime, he ranks among the top 50 all time in points, assists, field goals and free throws made.
If he plays just five more seasons, and continues to average his career mark of 27.6 points a game, he will finish with more points than Jordan, and third all time in that category. With eight more seasons at his current pace he will be the greatest scorer the league has ever seen.
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Perhaps more incredible than his scoring is what James, a forward, has done passing the ball. If he continues to average his career total of 6.9 helpers a game, in five seasons he would rank ninth all time. He would need nine more seasons at this pace to pass Magic Johnson and move into the top five all time in total assists.
Debate James and Jordan, James and Chamberlain, James and Magic, James and Russell, or Bird, or Kareem all you want. The bottom line is he is in the discussion. Where will he rank five or 10 years from now? If he stays healthy and motivated there will be few if any players judged to be greater.