2012 NBA Finals Recap

2012 NBA Finals Recap


2012 NBA Finals Recap

Look, I was just happy once the 2012 NBA Finals finally started. It was one thing for every national sportswriter, blogger, Governor, and late-night TV host to offer their fly-on-the-wall predictions. And it was entirely another for every Hollywood Celebrity, family member, and professional colleague to throw down their own gauntlet. But once my 85 year old neighbor decided to throw her hat in the ring with an “OKC in 7” prognostication, I had officially hit my limit. It was time to start already.

And start it did. Once the dust cleared, the Miami Heat had defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in 5 games, thereby establishing a new NBA hierarchy, and validating what many of us have known since 2009 – that Lebron James is officially the undisputed “Best player in the NBA”.

I needed a few days to gather my thoughts and put the LeBron James phenomenon in proper context. For the record, I am not a Lebron James fan, although I am a fan of basketball excellence. During the 2012 NBA Playoffs/Finals, I did not root for LeBron or the Miami Heat, but instead rooted against them at every opportunity. Perhaps I am still turned off by “The Decision”, and subsequent Hip-Hop concert that ensued less than 24 hours thereafter. Perhaps, I continue to remain riveted at just how much longer a basketball nation can continue to grow their dog pile on a player who goes year upon year without a ring. Perhaps a part of my heart still goes out to Cleveland, a city that absolutely and unequivocally revered Lebron James, not just as an athlete, but as a hometown hero and a savior, whose economic and social impact on his community during a recession extended far beyond that of a mere basketball player. Perhaps, as a Bulls fan, I am still bitter that Lebron spurned Chicago during his 2010 Free Agency, and now our current superstar, Derrick Rose, may never again be 100%. Or perhaps there will always be a small part of me that will look to defend the legacy of my childhood hero, Michael Jordan, against any potential on-comers, even though in the eyes of most, his legacy remains beyond reproach.

No, I am not a Lebron James fan, but over the years, my objectivity has compelled me to become a Lebron James apologist. Why? Because it is simply unfair to hold one player to a completely different set of unreasonable and hypocritical standards versus the others.

Now that Lebron James has won his first ring, some of the pundits that have historically levied their criticisms against him will begin applying some of their same false logic to the next “ringless” superstar. Will their target be Carmelo Anthony? Dwight Howard? Chris Paul? The intensity will never be the same as it was for Lebron because of a multitude of reasons (some of which were generated by Lebron himself), but a portion of their collective energies will nonetheless now be redirected.

The majority of pundits however, will remain steadfast in their position in continuing to criticize Lebron – a person who is deserving of some of that criticism, but certainly not all of it.

Those critics will still point to Lebron’s failures as an Alpha Dog in 2009, 2010 and 2011 – permanent black stains on his resume, that somewhat negate his recent accomplishment. Of course, what they will fail to mention is that Magic Johnson also failed as an Alpha Dog 3 times (1986, 1990, and 1984), Kobe Bryant 4 times (2003, 2004, 2011, and arguably 2008), Wilt Chamberlain twice (1961, 1968), Jerry West 4 times (1964, 1969, 1970, 1973), Shaquille O’Neal twice (1994, 1995), Moses Malone twice (1979, 1984), Larry Bird 5 times (1980, 1982, 1983, 1988, 1990), Oscar Robertson twice (1962, 1965), Hakeem Olajuwon once (1987), and Kareem Abdul Jabbar a whopping 6 times (1972, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981). Yep, every one of these legends were the Alpha Dogs of teams that lost in the playoffs to inferior opponents, and by the same standards, “failed” just as Lebron did. Moreover, in most instances, each of these legends played terrible in a losing effort. Yet, they arguably remain 11 of the 14 greatest players to ever play the game, with failures that are either never mentioned, or merely forgotten.

Can you say “double standard”?

These same critics will point to the fact that Lebron’s championship is tainted because he teamed up with another future Hall of Famer in Dwyane Wade, in order to finally win his first ring. Of course, what they will forget to mention is that Wilt Chamberlain teamed up with Elgin Baylor and Jerry West in order to win a championship in 1972, Oscar Robertson teamed up with Kareem Abdul Jabbar in 1971 in order to win his first ring, and Moses Malone teamed up with Julius Erving in 1983 in order to win his first championship. You see, not every great legend is gift-wrapped a championship caliber supporting cast the way that Magic, Bird, Kobe, and Russell were. Others had wait to for their fortune. And while it is true that Wilt, Oscar, and Moses were traded, and did not willingly choose to team with one another, it is important to remember that NBA Free agency only began in 1976, years after Oscar and Wilt had retired, and years before the concept of using Free Agency as leverage even existed. It was a different time, and a different culture, but do you really think that Oscar, Wilt, and Moses would have remained silent had they played in today’s era? Do you really think that they would have refrained from forcing management’s hand, or using free agency to test the waters? Do you really think that they would  have won a championship had they not teamed up with another superstar? And by the way, Wilt, Oscar, and Moses are 3 of the 14 greatest players of all time.

The critics will continue to declare that Lebron James is unclutch, that he disappears during big games, and cannot be relied upon for big shots. However, they will conveniently gloss over the fact that throughout his career, Lebron has repeatedly hit big shots throughout the playoffs, has a respectable 45% FG in playoff crunchtime, has a better career playoff GW shot percentage than the current “clutch” standard, Kobe Bryant, and has already amassed 3 of the most legendary
“Big games” in NBA History –  two of which are runaway choices for Top 10 of all time:

  • 2007, Gm 5 vs. Pistons, – 48 points, 9 reb, 7 assists, 18-33 FG, and scored the 29 of his team’s final 30 points
  • 2008 gm 7 vs.Boston– 45 points, 5 reb, 6 assists, 14-29 FG, including 10 points in the fourth quarter.
  • 2012, gm 6 vs. Boston – 45 points, 15 reb, 5 assists, 19-26 FG in which a stoned/highly medicated Lebron had perhaps the greatest single game playoff performance in NBA History.

No, the critics will conveniently leave this out, forcing emotional arbitrage on folks such as myself, who simultaneously root against Lebron James with the right side, while defending him with the left.

But regardless of whether I want to appeal to my logic or emotions, 3 things became clear to me  once the NBA Finals ended. It became clear to me that in 2012, Lebron James peaked on both sides of the ball like only 4 others ever have: 1991 Michael Jordan,  1962 Wilt Chamberlain, 1971 Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and 1995 Hakeem Olajuwon. It became clear to me that Lebron James was a player that had endured more scrutiny and hypocrisy than any other in the history of sports. And it became clear to me that Lebron James had become a person who managed to turn the other cheek, rise through rubble of the one of the most embarrassing performances in NBA Finals history, and begin a transformation from villain to victim similar to only Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, a bi-polar girl named Janet that I dated back in 2002, and the overpriced plumber that miraculously unclogged my toilet 3 weeks ago.

Absolutely remarkable.

The critics will continue, the inaccurate perceptions will continue, and the false narratives will continue. But for those who care, for those who share a passion for the history of the game, for those who seek truth, for those who value basketball excellence, and for those who believe that every player should be held to the same set of standards, the reality will in fact remain far different.

It’s interesting, because one of the readers on Chasing 23, Paulie Walnuts, has always maintained in our Comments board that a player with the talent of Lebron James would eventually win a championship for the simple reason that a player of Lebron’s caliber has never not won a NBA championship. Lebron got his first, and the scary thing is that he still has yet to reach his ceiling. There is no doubt in my mind that he is already a Top 10 Player of all time, and his evolution is nowhere near complete.

To all of the critics, you now have 2 choices: You can continue to root against Lebron, much like myself, but measure him against the same standards as those who came before him. Or you can continue to ride your high horse, root against him in ignorance, and apply 2 different sets of rules, with a moving goal post, and false logic. Feel free to like him or hate him as a person, but his talent and accomplishments as a basketball player remain unquestionable.

The choice is yours.

OKC Thunder

It’s tough not to love everything that this team is about; not just the players, but also their management and fans. Throughout the playoffs, we repeatedly heard about the unique bond that existed between the city and the team, and that was never more evident than upon the team’s return from Miami after being defeated in the NBA Finals.

Going forward however, the Thunder need to ensure that they avoid becoming the 1995 Orlando Magic: a young team with an extremely talented core that peaked when losing in the NBA Finals, and ultimately got torn apart by injuries and free agency.

The Thunder have the unenviable task of trying to sign both James Harden and Serge Ibaka within a salary cap system that will become especially punitive in the near future. Both Harden and Ibaka are eligible for extensions this summer, but become unrestricted free agents at the end of 2013. Given the new CBA and subsequent luxury tax penalties, OKC’s ability to re-sign both players will be near impossible unless they either trade or amnesty Kendrick Perkins, but even then, will still remain a challenge.

Ironic that the same set of rules that were put in place to protect small market teams such as OKC will simultaneously prevent them from retaining their talent core in the future, huh?

The Thunder will also need to understand that their loss to the Heat is merely history repeating itself. Outside of the 1970 New York Knicks, and 1991 Chicago Bulls, no other first-time NBA Finals team had ever been victorious when pitted against an opponent with NBA Finals experience. For the Thunder, this is par for the course, part of the painful growth process that the majority of budding dynasties inevitably endure. The 1970 Knicks and 1991 Bulls were the exception, not the rule, although it can be argued that they too still had their series of Conference Finals heartbreaks.

The good news going forward though, is that the Thunder will now have the requisite NBA Finals experience, championship talent, character players, shrewd management, and home crowd that is  second to none, as they enter the 2012-2013 season. Next year, there is no reason to believe that they will not make the NBA Finals next year, and perhaps even win.

And lastly, my personal 2012 NBA season farewell to the following:

Dwyane Wade: Back in 2011, I wrote that the only way for the Miami Heat to succeed would be for you to become the Alpha Dog, and for Lebron to become the #2. Not because you were the better or more talented player, but because it would be easier for Lebron James to unselfishly adapt to the #2 role, than it would be for yourself.

I was wrong.

Not only did you transform before our very eyes, you definitively settled into the #2 role by deferring to your more talented teammate, provided your team with a second scoring option, and continued to play ferocious defense despite being limited to one leg. The only question that now remains is at 31 next season, how many more years do you have left, and how long can you keep the ride going?

Unlike other players, you have continually relied on unparalleled athleticism to define your game. Will you be able to adapt once that athleticism leaves you? Will you develop an even more deadly outside shot? Will you enhance your post game? Will your game continue to compliment Lebron’s?

Regardless of what happens, just know that no one will be able to take from you 3 things:

1.) Your 2 championship rings

2.) Your 2006 NBA Finals MVP

3.) Your unofficial 2011 NBA Executive of the Year Award.

Kevin Durant: You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Not only was your 2012 playoffs (29 pts, 7 reb, and 4 assists on 52% FG and 63% TS) lights out, but your 54% FG shooting in playoff fourth quarters, and 14/28 (50%) shooting in crunchtime, were amongst the best in playoff history. You are not only the best scorer in the NBA given your seamless ability to generate shots from multiple spots on the floor, but you are also the best scorer that the NBA has seen since Michael Jordan.

You are humble, likable, and a person that the NBA  feels safe in entrusting with their future. Unfortunately, you simply ran up against a rival that was more experienced, more mature, and more battle-tested than yourself.

However, the good news is that you are only 23, have yet to peak, and will only get better over the next few years. Get into the gym this offseason, work on your post game, work on your elbow game, work on your defense, and build 15-20 more pounds of muscle. Then, we will all have the privilege of watching you quickly progress into one of the greatest players of all time.

Lastly, thanks again for crying on your mom’s shoulder after Game 5. That not only appealed to the casual fan, but also won over the emotions of every female around the world, enabling basketball degenerates such as myself to steal a few more games next season that we would have otherwise lost:

“Hey honey, you remember Kevin Durant don’t you? That was the guy who was so sweet and sensitive and started crying in his mother’s arms. That guy you really liked? Do you remember?Do you remember how you said “Sure, I’ll watch him play next season. I’ll support him. He seems so nice”. Well, guess what, he’s playing right now, and again 3 more times this week! So you get the Chips and Salsa, and I’ll get the Wild Turkey!”

 

Russell Westbrook: Yes, we all know that you can score. We all know that you are arguably the most athletic point guard in the league. But your shot selection is absolutely maddening.

Look, if you really want to win, your primary focus should be to get the Durantula the ball at the Elbow next year. If you have any questions, feel free watch tapes of Dwyane Wade during the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Trust me, if he did it, you can too.

Oh yeah, on a side note, there is one other thing that I wanted to say: Thank you! For the past 6 years, I, like most men, have struggled to figure out what ridiculous costume I am going to sport on Halloween. After 9 consecutive years, I had painfully exhausted Run D-M-C, Luke Skywalker, or ‘Guy with a bunch of paint on his face to try and look scary’ in an effort to appease the masses. But now, between your Sesame Street pajama shirts, Dwyane Wade’s inoperative accessories, and Amare Stoudamire’s Crocodile Dundee getup, I have enough to last me until 2028, and perhaps beyond.

Thanks again.

James Harden: Congrats on earning the 2012 NBA Finals LVP. In truth, there wasn’t even a close second.  With an anemic 12.4 ppg on 37.5% shooting, the only person who should be more embarrassed than you, is me – for jumping on the Bruce Blitz podcast and actually declaring that you were better than Russell Westbrook.

Shame on you, but even worse, shame on me.

Kobe Nation: The bad news for Kobe Bryant fans is that you can no longer use the “Lebron can’t win” or “Lebron has never won a ring” argument. Lebron has not only won a ring now, but has earned more MVPs, peaked at a higher level, is statistically more clutch in GW shots and Crunchtime, and has performed better in Big games (Elimination Games, Do-or-die Game 5s/7s, etc..).

The good news though is that you have one last card remaining in your arsenal: Kobe still has 4 more rings than Lebron James, which places Kobe only one ring short of the immortal Jim Loscutoff and 2 rings short of Robert Horry. Good luck in your pursuit!

In the interim, the rest of us will watch in anticipation to see whether Lebron James can win his second ring and match the legacy of the immortal Dickey Simpkins, or perhaps if lucky, a 3rd  ring to match resumes with the legendary Luc Longley.

I know that I am picking on you, but at what point do we finally acknowledge the fallacy of ring counting, and at what point do we finally acknowledge the ongoing double-standard that has existed for the past 4 years between Kobe and Lebron? I’m excited to see how much longer you can keep this up.

Chris Bosh: Now that you’ve won a championship, how much longer are you going to be content watching your career waste away as a 3rd Fiddle? Just curious.

Erick Spoelstra: Congratulations on officially becoming a member of the Barry Switzer club. Fair or unfair, the jury will continue to remain out until you coach a team that does NOT have Lebron James on it. Until then, you remain a question mark.

Scott Brooks: A very distant #2 in this year’s LVP voting, but nonetheless a viable candidate. Your failure to switch Thabo Sefolosha on Lebron James came way too late, and your failure to establish solid defensive rotations and mix up your schemes (I dunno, perhaps a zone or two might have been nice) was absolutely baffling. The good news is that you’ll have next year to grow and become better. In the interim, we will all continue to wonder: are you a championship caliber coach? Or merely a stepping stone coach? Only time will tell.

David Stern: “BRI”, “Union” , “Owners”, “Players”, “Commissioner”, “Board of Governors”, “Player’s Union”, “Luxury Tax”, “Salary Cap”, “Flex Cap”, “System”, “57/43”, “53/47”, “52.5/47.5”, “51/49”, “50/50”, “Revenue Sharing”, “Revenue Split”, “Big Market”, “Small Market”, “Competitive Landscape”, “Sources”, “Decertification”, “Disclaimer” “Amnesty”, “Labor Relations Board”, “Hawks, “Doves”, “side deals”, “escrow”, “concessions”, “49-51 band”, “litigation”, “settlement”, “George Cohen”, “rookie scale”, “sign-and-trade”, “extend-and-trade”, “escrow system”, “B-list issues”, “nuclear winter” and of course, last but not least, my favorite,  “Trust Me”.

In the words of the immortal George Carlin, just 27 additional ways of saying the word, “BULLSHIT”. However, in the end, you delivered a profitable business model to your owners, relinquished yourself of a  major liability in the New Orleans Hornets, landed a marquee LeBron vs. Durant matchup that should sustain the NBA for the next 5 years, and garnered record Finals’ ratings. You really are the Cat that ate the Canary. Congrats! I look forward to 2012-2013.

Related posts:

  1. 7 questions for the 2012 NBA Finals
  2. 2012 NBA Most Valuable Player: Chasing 23 Writers’ Picks
  3. Final Thoughts on the 2011 NBA Finals
  4. 2012: Year of Kevin Durant?
  5. THE NBA REALIST ON THE BRUCE BLITZ SHOW (6/10/2012)

Discussion

71 Responses to “2012 NBA Finals Recap”

  1. I call BS on the double standard. Magic was called Tragic during the 1984 Finals. “Kobe failed when…” is the usual first-line retort of LeBron defenders whenever LeBron was criticized. Wilt was dogged about always losing to Russell until he beat him. Olajuwon was NOT the alpha dog on the 1986 (get it right) Finals team, Ralph Sampson was. Shaq was labeled one-dimensional after Hakeem embarrassed him in 1995. Hell, Jordan was criticized as nothing more than a scorer after a few first and second round exits earlier in his career.

    LeBron is probably the most scrutinized basketball player in history; part of that is because he’s been part of the ESPN hype machine since he was in high school, part of that is because of the world we live in where anyone with a keyboard can voice an opinion that has the potential to be seen by thousands, and another part of it is because LeBron seeks the attention.

    But let’s not twist the volume and means of criticism that LeBron faces into other legends not facing criticism.

    Posted by CJac | June 25, 2012, 2:24 am
    • 1.) You are cherry picking instances of Magic, Kobe, and Wilt’s career. However, NONE of them were subjected to the same ongoing scrutiny that Lebron was. Does anyone bring up Magic’s 1990 playoff loss to the Suns? Or Kobe’s 2004 debacle against the Pistons? Or Bird’s 83 debacle against the Bucks? No. It’s as if they have been forgotten, but I guarantee you that we will never hear the end of Lebron’s 2010 Game 5 vs. Boston. Each of the players you mentioned may have received temporary scrutiny, but nothing to the level of ongoing scrutiny that Lebron has.

      2.) I am referring to Olajuwon’s supposed failure in 1987 vs. Sonics. Not the 1986 Rockets. So I had it correct the first time.

      3.) The fact that the Rockets even made the Finals was an overachievement, not a failure. Moreover, I encourage you to revisit your revisionity history when it comes to the Alpha Dog of those rockets Teams. Olajuwon had superior stats, garnered more MVP votes (Sampson did not get a single vote while Hakeem finished 4th – you do the math), and an offense that started and ended with him.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | June 25, 2012, 11:12 am
  2. Great article! I just have a few disagreements I’d like to mention. 1st & foremost, Im 39 yrs old & 1st starting watching basketball with my gpa when I watched Magic get drafted in 1979 & have also played, so I think I have credibility with what Im about to say. Ur reasons for not liking LBJ r completely BIASED & RIDICULOUS!! The “Decision”…Seriously?? I bet u wouldn’t have minded the Decision if LBJ went to the Bulls! SMH! Also, do u realize that LBJ & his “Decision” made the Boys & Girls club approx 2.5 Million Dollars?? Is there anything wrong with that?? So LBJ didnt pick ur team…Thats a reason to not like someone?? SMH again! Heres where I get u & get u good….Want a few reasons not to like even my childhood hero Michael Jordan?? R u ready?? Ok…here we go….MJ was a Ball Hog for the 1st 7 yrs of his career which teammates couldn’t stand…MJ was a bad teammate cursing & punching out teammates…MJ was the worst gambler ever, actually dumb enough to gamble millions of dollars against pro golfers when MJ was barely an amateur…Some still to this day (not me) think MJ got his father killed due to his gambling..Some think Stern told MJ to retire for a yr to calm things down because his gambling had gotten so out of control…MJ was 1 of the worst adulterers in the history of sports especially for a world renown superstar…MJ’s HOF speech was borderline hate throwing just about everyone under the bus…MJ single handedly kept Zeke out of the Olympics when he should’ve just had the maturity to keep his mouth shut for the sake of our country & the team…MJ just might be the worst owner & GM that has ever lived…Yes…Dan Gilbert is better! So add up all those things against our hero Michael Jordan & u have a more hate-able scumbag superstar than LBJ & u along with many others have the audacity to not like LBJ because of a “Decision” that helped the Boys & Girls club…approx 2.5 Million worth & that LBJ didn’t pick the Bulls is simply RIDICULOUS!! But this is America & u have the right to not like whoever u want no matter how ridiculous & hypocritical it may be. I just wanted to point out the hypocriticalness of ur reasoning since Michael Jeffrey Jordan was no Saint by any means, but u still love him! Just SMH for the 3rd time. Besides ur hypocritical reasons on why u dont like LeBron & ur love for mistake free Jordan, I actually enjoyed ur article! It was very good & very objective except for this too…U said in ur article that ur not a LeBron fan, but a fan of “Basketball Excellence!” Bro…listen to that statement u made over again?? U love basketball excellence, but don’t like LeBron James makes no sense since LeBron James has been displaying basketball excellence for pretty much 8 yrs! U personally just dont like him because he didnt pick the Bulls & that reason is extremely childish for a grown man. With that being said, theres alot more dirty laundry on Michael Jordan than u could ever find on LeBron James! Michael Jordan will always be my hero…but Im more objective than others when I say the fact that Michael Jordan was no Saint! If u read what I say & think about it for a min, u’ll agree with everything I said. Take care…

    Posted by KJ | June 25, 2012, 3:01 am
    • KJ – Thanks for the read.

      I am not sure why there is any confusion in the matter, but encourage you to re-read the article. I am acknowledging my bias when it comes to the fact that Lebron has rubbed me the wrong way. Bias is not necessary logical, it can be emotional as well. However, my bias is indicative of the same emotional bias that every fans exhibits when watching players since no fan likes every single player.

      However, there is a difference between disliking a player and applying that dislike in evaluating their talent and accomplishments vs. disliking a player but acknowledging their greatness. I have never held my emotional bias against Lebron when evaluating his place in history, and thought I was clear in his defense throughout my article. It is possible to dislike a player, yet respect their accomplishments at the same time.

      Lastly, MJ was no angel. However, much of his vices were revealed either later in his career or after his playing days. Would people have respected MJ in today’s Social Media era? Perhaps not. But that is not my argument. My legacy defense of MJ is based purely on basketball accomplishments, not whether I like or hate Lebron.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | June 25, 2012, 11:04 am
      • Thank you. Thank you so much for your honesty and most of all, your reasoning. All too often reason is left is discarded and left on the floor for people “attempting” to disparage James. You have separated James the man from James the basketball player and it has served you well. Very few bloggers, and especially fans, know any of these cats personally, so when they use that to bash someone, usually James, I just sit back and laugh. It’s part of a larger problem this world faces, critical thinking and reasoned analysis, but it’s great to see somebody that eschews emotional masturbation and relies on reasoned thinking. Again,thank you.

        Posted by RFN | June 25, 2012, 1:37 pm
      • 1st…Thanx 4 ur response! It was a classy response, not a hateful unclassy response along with a blocked or deleted message as Bruce Blitz the child at times likes to do. U hung in there like a champ & delivered a champs response! Thank u!

        2nd..I complimented ur article & still compliment ur article to the highest degree! I thought u were very objective for a man who clearly doesnt like LBJ for what I must say, are the most ridiculous all of 2 reasons! The “Decision” that made 2.5+ Mill for the Boys & Girls Club & the fact that LBJ didnt choose ur team the Bulls is just insane to me…especially since if LBJ picked the Bulls, I sincerely believe that u wouldn’t dislike LBJ in the least.

        3rd..Ur honest, objective, accurate & to me a FACT comment that LBJs 45 FG 73%, 18 & 5 was arguably the greatest playoff game we’ve ever seen was an extremely accurate comment! Bruce Blitz…while trying his ballz off to be objective….still lets his hate for LBJ get in the way of 100% objective thinking! Bruce gave that game a 9/10 stars & said he’s seen much better games! Bruce is an American, with his American rights to be as retarded as he wants, but giving LBJ a 9/10 stars for that game is CLEARLY hating since that game was a 12/10 stars! Add these circumstances & everyone will know how great that game actually was…Here it is….45 pnts at FG 73%, 18 rebs & 5 asts in 44.49 mins…only attempting 9 FTs….ON THE ROAD at Boston…in a must win game 6…where the Heat lost 15/16 games…where Boston was 16/2 in game 6′s…vs the 4th ranked Defense who only allowed 87 ppg…with 4 future HOFers playing at a high level…with all the pressure in the world on LBJ to perform well & under all those circumstances Bruce Blitz gives LBJ a 9/10 stars??? I’m sorry bro….but thats not being 100% objective! Wanna know why?? Because if Jordan had a game like that UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES IN A REGULATION PLAYOFF GAME, Bruce wouldv’ve given Jordan 200/10 Stars for that game! Then when I complimented LBJ on that game calling it arguably the greatest playoff game we’ve ever seen & telling Bruce that a 9/10 was ridiculous, I then get called a LeBronTard & then get my comments deleted! As u may have heard, Bruce & I no longer speak. I’m not Bruces bitch or his minion that needs to take Bruces insults & baby blockes & deletes comments in a public comment section! Im a grown 39 yr old man with a family.

        So with that being said…Thank u for being objective! It must be hard for a man ur not a fan of, but thats what mature, objective people in sports blogging, etc do! They dont block, delete & throw hissy temper tantrums like Bruce Blitz! Have a great day & looking forward to ur next objective article…

        Posted by KJ | June 25, 2012, 3:39 pm
  3. Amazing article! You’ve covered almost every aspect of the LeBron hate and subsequent love. No matter how much of a villain he is, he is a really good player at the end. I do wish the OKC would’ve won though!

    Posted by Steven Gray | June 25, 2012, 5:19 am
  4. First off, great article. Yes, I don’t like LeBron and some might call me a hater, but I will say this was one of the best playoff runs for single player I have seen. I don’t post all the time, only have a computer every once in a while, but you guys know I’m a huge a Laker fan and have become a big Kobe fan over the years as well.

    A lot of you guys also like to lump me into the group of people that use the rings argument as the end all be all. I’m not that guy, I have always said that stats and rings are the best way to measure greatness. Both combined, not one or the other. I still don’t think LeBron has passed up Kobe in the greatest players list, but I do believe he’s right on his ass. That’s just one man’s opinion and everyone will always argue their lists. It’s never ending.

    I never had a real double standard, I never said Kobe hasn’t failed on numerous occasions and made me wanna shoot him in the face for trying to shoot in people’s faces. So has LeBron and so have many of the Greats as you pointed out. And as CJAC pointed out they all took their shit for it as well. LeBron yes he took more than most and I agree that it is, because is bigger now than it was in the 80′s, 90′s and even 2004. I gonna be that guy and say that until LeBron took his spot I think Kobe might have been more hated. If people were on the internet like they are now and don’t act like it hasn’t grown a lot since then, he would have been hearing some uhh stuff that LeBron couldn’t even imagine. But that’s whatever I kinda like the hate on my favorite players and teams.

    There is no double standard really. Up until LeBron everyone said you need a ring to be up there with the Greats. Once LeBron came by and started tearing it up, people changed their opinions. Can’t blame you guys, he has always put up video game numbers. He might truly be the greatest talent the NBA has ever seen, but the way sports goes is you need rings to accompany that to be considered the greatest. It has always been like this and always will. I think you guys are starting a double standard for him.

    The way I’ve felt is that the numbers LeBron puts up, if he won 3 or 4 rings there is a good argument between him and Jordan. As in, you could say LeBron was the GOAT and the argument would be valid. And if he won 5 or more he would be the undisputed GOAT, you know except by crazy fans who can’t accept it. I know that’s me according to you guys, because I still rank Kobe ahead of him. Yes Kobe has 5 rings, but it almost feels like a he really has 4, considering he wasn’t the top dog for the 3-peat. He also wasn’t a regular sidekick so you can’t totally cut them in half. This has always been my reasoning in why I consider Kobe slightly better than LeBron all-time now that he has a ring. I had him a with a bigger gap before, but always had LeBron in my top 20. I know that is some weird ass reasoning and it doesn’t have facts behind it, but it’s the only way to really explain how I’ve always ranked players. The way I do it, If LeBron wins one more he’s top 5, got him at 10 right now and Kobe at 9. He put’s up stats that have him leap like crazy in my eyes.

    But as I’ve said this is just my opinion. At the same time as crazy as it sounds you know it kinda makes sense. People might have people in a different order if they used my I guess creative way of thinking.

    That Robert Horry stuff is old come on. That’s like me throwing out a Delonte West joke.

    One more thing Chris Bosh gets no credit. That guy was beasting ever since he came back from his injury and was starting. In the end LeBron got his well deserved ring and Finals MVP trophy. I know I always made jokes about how LeBron was never gonna win a ring and damnit did I want to believe it. At the same time me and the other LeBron haters knew it was a matter of time, was it so wrong to make fun of him while we could. Well that’s it I know I’ll get some shit for this long ass comment and explaining my crazy ranking system.

    Posted by J | June 25, 2012, 6:15 am
    • Works for me.

      It really does seem like Lebron came along, and they moved the goal posts. You started to get articles like “Is ring counting the best way to measure greatness”? Well, as long as you played the most or second most minutes in a playoff run in the last 30 years that culminated in that ring (which excludes the Robert Horry and Bill Russell), then yest, it is and will be a great way to measure greatness.

      Posted by Gil Meriken | June 25, 2012, 2:50 pm
      • Just for the record, the article you are referencing was entirely written prior to last year’s finals. I wrote it fully expecting the Heat to win and the article to wind up a defense of Dirk against the usual ridiculous accusations we hoist on great players when they don’t meet our ridiculous standards. It was in no way a reaction to Lebron losing, although it could easily have been misconstrued that way due to the publication date.

        I’m happy that two of the all-time greats won titles the past two years in large part so they won’t have to wear the scarlet letter that they never deserved in the first place. And I’m even more happy that I won’t have to endure the same awful talking points for a while.

        Posted by lochpster | June 25, 2012, 6:38 pm
  5. Until Lebron Wins 4 more rings, then he can’t be in the discussion of a Kobe Bryant or a Michael Jordan. I just think this is a bunch of bullshit that he is in that discussion period. Especially for the simple fact that he and his team got 95% favor with the Referees over OKC from games 2 to 5. It was obvious that the series was fixed like i kind of knew was going to happen. That bullshit officiating alone gave that Miami team enough confidents to know that they could pretty much do anything they wanted on offense and defense and would’ve gotten away with it. Untill Lebron actually wins a championship without cheating being involved, then maybe i’ll consider giving him a little credit for how great he supposedly is. I do not want to hear another comparison of him and Kobe or Jordan. The MVP Lebron has really should be Kevin Durants. Please. Just stop with that bullshit!! There is no reason why Miami and OKC shouldn’t have played up to 7 games this series and OKC was clearly the better team period, but just didn’t get the calls and the MIAMI CHEATS got them all as if they were already champs. SMH. It’s just ridiculous how bad stern wants another Jordan type player to market in the NBA, after the real king KOBE retires. Lebron is far from it. My boy kobe actually had to earn his championships, and he stepped up everytime. Untill Lebron gets Jordan to comparing him to himself, then LBJ is nothing but a product that david stern is trying desperatly to market and for everyone to buy in to the hype. Well guess what, i ain’t one of them.

    Posted by TheRaider | June 25, 2012, 6:37 am
    • Poor loser hu hu hu!!! Just one of the bitter Lebron demon. Want some bittermelon?

      Posted by ding sterman | June 25, 2012, 9:32 am
    • OMG you are 100% the type of person the author is writing about. In the absence of accepting great play you cry about the refs and use made up stats (95% of the calls went to Miami). You cannot be reasoned with, and cold hard facts and history do nothing to educate you. Go cry about your Stern conspiracies and referee calling to someone who’s is on a lower level. Good lord, I’ve never seen so many butt-heart “fans”.

      Posted by JimmieE | June 25, 2012, 9:33 am
    • 95%? 114-103. That’s your foul disparity right there… now, go and check to see which teams has ball dominant slashers and which one has ball dominant shooters. Lebron is almost unstoppable on the drive, ergo, fouls… nothin easy. I could go on but I just realized that you won’t be able to see the truth because you are too emotionally invested in hating Lebron. Grow up, check some stats, watch the games, and enjoy greatness. But don’t just sit here and spew ignorant bullshit cause your wittle feelings got hurt.

      Posted by Scar | June 25, 2012, 9:44 am
    • Wow, how does it feel to go full on bitch? Are you a bitch like this about everything? Yes, I know, I resorted to ad homs, but seriously, you deserve nothing else.

      Posted by RFN | June 25, 2012, 1:40 pm
    • Oscar Robertson has 1 ring & is ahead of Kobe! Theres alot of players who dont have as many rings as Kobe that are ranked higher than Kobe Bryant! Ur rings arguement is dumb since rings are a R-E-A-M accomplishment! A players career is what ranks him on the top of the list….absolutely not rings! In ur assessment Barry Sanders isnt that great…Walter Payton & Jim Brown only 1 ring…Marino 0 rings..Stockton, Malone, Kemp, Barkley, Drexler, Ewing all arent in the top players because they’re teams weren’t good enough to get a ring is completely absurd & ridiculous! Rings are a T-E-A-M accomplishment! Not everyone gets born into having great teams like Russell, Magic, Kobe, Bird, Duncan, etc, etc! SMH…

      Posted by KJ | June 25, 2012, 4:00 pm
  6. Good post. Seems no one can resist the urge to crap on Kobe, though, and it almost diminishes what you are trying to acomplish (maybe it was that – lol).

    Can’t argue with what James has done throughout his career (numbers wise), capped off by this years playoffs. As written, most of our Legends have tripped up at some point; but if you noticed, the further back you go, the tighter the comp. And it doesn’t help if you come into the League and start stumbling in tight games you should dominate. You know, first impressions, etc, etc. Magic gets a ‘pass’(should be ‘passes’; you have to count the Lakers loss to the Rockets too) because 1980 was such a mind boggling feat. Bird for losing to Magic. LeBron shrinking against Russell and the Celtics (oops!) and then the Mavs…? You do that after you’ve pocketed one or two Rings, and your rep won’t suffer as much (ask Kobe. Crap, there I go now!.)
    Hey, KJ: MJ was/is no saint. So what? How many times did his team lose in the playoffs to teams they were suppose to beat? Maybe the ’95 Magic?

    Posted by bringbackmalcolm | June 25, 2012, 9:06 am
    • Dude…Ur talking to a pro!! MJ was known at 1 point as a ball hog that would never win! It took MJ 3 frikkin yrs to beat the Pistons!! Yes I said it….THREE FRIKKIN YRS!! And Jordan is my childhood hero! He along with Walter Payton are my all time fav players! But quit acting like an idiot when u imply Jordan didnt have his shortcomings! Jordan failed over & over & over & over in his life……and that is why he succeeded! Quit being a JordanTard! Jordan was not only not a saint, but failed many times!

      Posted by KJ | June 25, 2012, 4:04 pm
      • Jordan ‘Tard’? I believe my comment was “so what”. Hey, I spent 15 years thinking Doctor J was Mother Theresa in shorts, only to find out otherwise (same thing with Sweetness). To quote Shakespeare, the fault lies in ourselves. So I don’t really care too much about personal foibles. Just athletic ability and what you do with it.
        Oh, again… what playoff series did MJ’s team lose that they were FAVORED to win?

        BTW: I never thought I’d see someone throw money away like Harrison Barnes did in March and then Boom! Along comes James Harden 3 short months later..

        Posted by bringbackmalcolm | June 26, 2012, 10:51 am
        • Exactly! Jordan never lost when he was expected to win… And… if we are to be honest, let’s take away all of Jordan “not-prime” seasons.

          This means his rookie year, his 2nd year (only 18 games played), his 1st comeback year (17 games) and his grandpa Wizards years. What gives?

          10 NBA seasons: 10 scoring titles, 6 NBA championships (6 Finals MVPs); 5 MVPs, 1 DOTY. Success rate of 60%. Simply amazing!

          Posted by doosiolek | June 26, 2012, 3:45 pm
  7. No bullshit, TheRaider just posted the dumbest comment I’ve read yet in regards to this NBA Finals. Such a distance from reality, that you have to wonder what is going through his head.

    Anyone with a fucking brain would realize it would be FAR more advantageous for the league if the Thunder were to have won the NBA Finals. Were there some bad calls? Sure? Is there ever a case where there isn’t? That said, I’m not sure how anyone could watch those 5 games, and not agree that Miami outplayed the Thunder, and made the plays they had to.

    Posted by Meatbucket | June 25, 2012, 9:27 am
    • The Raider is simply a one-dimensional or one-track minded person. His absurd opinion that only championship ring matters is bordering on idiocy. What about guys like Karl Malone,Barkley and the rest of the great players without rings?

      Posted by ding sterman | June 25, 2012, 9:36 am
  8. “Or perhaps there will always be a small part of me that will look to defend the legacy of my childhood hero, Michael Jordan, even though in the eyes of most, his legacy remains beyond reproach.”

    Here’s the funny thing (and I say this as an MJ fan): whatever “wrongs” LeBron may have done over his career, he has never (to my knowledge):
    1) gotten involved in altercations with teammates/personnel
    2) gotten involved in gambling
    4) had disruptions in his family life/linked to talks of infedelity
    5) shown blatant indifference to social issues

    So if LeBron’s legacy is being evaluated in this manner, he’s already surpassed MJ in my book, even if he’s not MJ’s equal as a basketball player.

    I can think of many athletes just in this decade alone whose “no-nos” far FAR surpass an overzealous pep rally celebration.

    Posted by The Realist #2 | June 25, 2012, 10:27 am
    • The difference between MJ and LJ is that Jordan was always classy, while LJ was “not 1, not 2″ bullshit, etc.

      For now LeBron did not fulfill his promise as he has exactly 1.

      Posted by doosiolek | June 26, 2012, 3:48 pm
      • Jordan was a better player and he had better PR in a pre-TMZ/Twitter world. Jordan was the GOAT, he was slick, but calling him classy is like calling a turd a tiara. He was good at damage control.

        Posted by Sin | June 26, 2012, 4:52 pm
        • No shit. Jordan was an asshole extraordinaire. Again, to me this means nothing, because ON THE COURT, the only place we should judge these guys, he was the GOAT.

          Posted by RFN | June 27, 2012, 9:13 am
      • If a pep rally boast truly bothers you more than any of the things I mentioned above, then you got some things in life mixed up.

        Posted by The Realist #2 | June 26, 2012, 9:30 pm
  9. “Ring won while playing the most or second most minutes in a title run”

    Posted by Gil Meriken | June 25, 2012, 11:50 am
  10. What people also fail to realize is 3 time MVP LBJ & the Miami Heat accomplished something thats never been done in NBA history…..They won the championship after trailing in 3 straight playoff series! LeBron was juts breaking records all over the place in these playoffs! 1 of the greatest playoff performances anyone will ever see!

    Posted by KJ | June 25, 2012, 4:09 pm
    • That is pretty amazing, and shows a lot of mental fortitude by the Heat, it does seem that some time in the cauldron this off-season toughened them up.

      Posted by Gil Meriken | June 25, 2012, 5:02 pm
  11. Realist, another thoughtful post as usual. A few thoughts in response:

    1. For the record, Magic didn’t truly become the Lakers’ alpha dog until ’86-’87. Until then Kareem was their top gun; in fact, even after this, there were instances in season-turning games where Kareem remained their go-to guy in pressure situations. If you see the tape for the final seconds of Game 4 of the ’87 Finals and Game 6 of the ’88 Finals, you’ll see what I mean. Your point is well-taken that Magic gagged in some key spots in the ’84 Finals and that this was the biggest reason the Lakers lost that year.

    2. If someone were to say to LeBron that he couldn’t do it without Wade, he would say something to the effect of “Heck yes I needed Wade, and Bosh, and all the other guys too, Haslem, Battier, Miller, Chalmers, etc. I’ve said all along that I couldn’t do it myself.” If one can put emotions aside when it comes to the TV special and the welcome party (not easy, I know), one is left with a conundrum: those were exceedingly, and excessively, egotistical ways of conveying what was actually a pretty egoless message.

    3. The Finals witnessed a coronation, but also a dual replacement: Brooks replaces Spoelstra as the “head coach of a title contender who has to prove himself,” while Westbrook replaces LeBron as the “most nitpicked and over-analyzed star in the league.”

    Posted by E-Dog | June 25, 2012, 4:25 pm
    • Thanks for the feedback E-Dog

      I agree with #2 and #3, but do disagree with your statement around #1. Some food for thought:

      Kareem was definitive Alpha Dog in 1980 and 1981. However, from 1982-1986, I believe that Magic, while not the primary scorer, still became the team’s Alpha Dog. Magic garnered more MVP votes than Kareem each of those years, and it was not really close. He also made more 1st Team All-NBA, while Kareem’s scoring and rebounding declined noticeably.

      Most people believe that Kareem was the Alpha dog because he was the team’s go-to scorer, and had his penultimate turn-back-the-clock moment during the 1985 Finals. While this is true, Magic still remained the better all around player and floor leader in every other aspect of the game, while averaging more minutes. He was also the bigger locker room presence among teammates. In sum, Kareem was the team’s primary scorer until 1987, and retained his “Captain” title because of tenure, but Magic was everything else. In 1987, Magic became the team’s primary scorer.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | June 25, 2012, 7:44 pm
  12. I disagree that Durant is the best scorer since Michael Jordan. That would be LeBron James. LeBron scored more points thru his first 5 years. He averages more points a game through his first 5 years. He had more 30, 40 and 50 point games through his first 5 years. (Durant only has 1 50 point game in his career so far!!!) LeBron has a higher FG% on his career. LeBron is 3rd all time in PPG in history! LeBron led these playoffs in scoring! And Indeed, LeBron could win the scoring title every single year if he wanted to, as he has said.

    People think Durant and Melo are fantastic scorers because their jumpers make it look easy when they are going down. But what happens when their jumper is not going down? That’s the difference between Jordan/LeBron and Durant/Melo.

    It’s time to stop this nonsense about Durant being the best scorer in the league and give LeBron his due.

    Posted by Motu | June 25, 2012, 5:55 pm
    • People mix up “scorer” and “shooter”.

      Lebron is the best scorer.

      But the better shooter would be Durant, because when they talk about shooters they usually mean “perimeter” or “mid-range” shooters, and they’re not talking about comparing in-game %s, they’re talking about true shooting ability that is only sometimes reflected in the individual game statistics, although free throw % does seem to have a very good correlation to this shooting ability.

      Posted by Gil Meriken | June 26, 2012, 12:38 am
      • KD’s jumper is a thing of beauty. He’s a little different from Dirk. They both have great J’s. Dirk is best in the high post working a turn-around off the half-court offense. Durant’s transition pull-up and pick & pop pull-ups are his magic weapons.

        Posted by Sin | June 26, 2012, 5:04 pm
      • Durant is the closest I have seen to David Thompson in terms of the effortless and smooth manner in which he plays.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | June 26, 2012, 9:45 pm
    • Well, Durant in the playoffs was the best scorer, too. James was second, though. Hell, Lebron can’t be the best at everything :) James and Durant are both anti-Kobes in that they both score efficiently.

      Posted by RFN | June 26, 2012, 9:08 am
    • LeBron scored more points thru his first 5 years because he did not have any other scorer on his team. Durant on the other hand had Westbrook.

      To me Durant is already a better scorer than LeBron and over time it will become obvious.

      Also, KD would be as effective in any era while LJ would be far less effective playing in the 90′ (HC+physical play is a bitch)…

      Oh, and BTW I don’t care if Melo is a fantastic scorer, to me he’s a terrible player… Putting Melo in the same sentance as Durant & LeBron is a blasphemy!

      Posted by doosiolek | June 26, 2012, 3:39 pm
      • They’re very different players. I love KD’s jumper and movement without the ball. LeBron has the fantastic court-vision, the left-side drive, the rebounding–Durant is not a bad rebounder at all but he’s too damn skinny. Guys who know how to box out can pin KD off the ball. They’re both amazing players and I think they’ll both get better.

        Posted by Sin | June 26, 2012, 4:57 pm
      • I disagree with your point about LJ being far less effective if he played in the 90′s. Bron relishes physical contact. He’s a physical abnormality. He finishes shots even after taking fouls from people trying hard to stop him from getting it up. Hand checking was used to disrupt a players rhythm/balance and to take away some speed advantages. Lebron’s game is more power than finesse. Especially now that he seems to understand how dangerous he is when he doesn’t rely on jumpers. At 6’8″ 250+, I doubt a HC will slow him down much…

        Posted by AD | June 26, 2012, 5:18 pm
  13. Great article as always! I had the same visceral response as you did to the unfounded criticism of James and wound up becoming a big Heat fan for this year’s playoffs. My main hope is that such analysis would be curtailed if James did manage to win a title. Hopefully Mark Cuban’s verbal body slam of Skip Bayless will be another step in the right direction.

    One thing though-Jim Loscutoff is actually tied with Robert Horry at 7 rings.

    Posted by lochpster | June 25, 2012, 6:50 pm
    • Thanks Lochpster. Feedback much appreciated.

      By my count, Loscutoff has only 6 titles. I believe this because:
      a.) I checked his profile (http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/l/loscuji01.html)
      b.) I have dedicated a shrine for him in my second bedroom.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | June 25, 2012, 7:46 pm
      • Also,though he began the season on the roster, Elgin Baylor retired after only 9 games as he believed that the team would be better without finding minutes for him.

        So, it is technically true that Wilt joined Baylor and West, Baylor was long gone before the playoffs started.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | June 25, 2012, 8:37 pm
      • I suppose it all depends on whether you count his title from 1960. He missed about 2/3 of the season and the entire playoffs with a knee injury. Since basketball reference apparently only counts players who were active in at least one playoff game, he didn’t make the cut. Wikipedia, however, gives him credit for that season and puts him at 7.

        I really need to find something better to do with my time :)

        Posted by lochpster | June 25, 2012, 10:53 pm
  14. Realist, one more thought: I don’t think that the analogy between OKC and the Magic of the mid-90s holds up because unlike those Magic, the Thunder have their top two guys locked up. The Magic’s status as contenders depended on keeping both Shaq and Penny in the fold. When Shaq left in ’96, their title hopes went poof! By contrast, OKC has both Durant and Westbrook under contract for the next several seasons. Harden and Ibaka are important pieces, but they’re not as important as Durant and Westbrook.

    Posted by E-Dog | June 26, 2012, 5:28 am
    • E-Dog not slamming the Thunder here as I have a ton of respect for them as a team, however you saw in the finals how they lacked a 3rd scorer they that needed to find balance and be able to score enough points(never thought I would say that before the finals) to beat Miami. So they need to be able to resign one or both of those guys to get that third scoring option. Although I contend that Ibaka is overrated, he made little to no difference in stopping Miami players from scoring in the paint. If you bring a guy in to defend and he can’t defend when it matters most then what good is he?

      Posted by nightbladehunter | June 26, 2012, 7:29 am
  15. This article pretty much said everything I would have wanted to say if writing for this website, nice job!

    Posted by pointguard40 | June 26, 2012, 6:55 am
  16. great read … please don’t ever work for ESPN, they will destroy you! ;)

    Posted by rhoy | June 26, 2012, 9:29 am
  17. Nice work, realist. I haven’t had a dog in this fight since AI’s Sixers. Last year I was happy to see the Mavs win–I’ve always liked Dirk, figured it was his best and maybe last shot at a chip & I was thrilled to watch the Mavs win. By this year, the Heat had grown on me. After the Celtics knocked off my Sixers I knew who I wanted to see in the finals. And I admit I really felt that LBJ deserved to have that monkey plucked off his back. Truth is, though, I really like both teams. We could be seeing something special developing here for the next few years, like Bird’s Celts & Magic’s Lakers in the middle ’80s.

    Posted by Sin | June 26, 2012, 2:46 pm
  18. The off-season should be interesting, too. Wade’s knee injury could be a blessing-in-disguise for the Heat. DWayde is at that point in his career where he needs to add some more wrinkles to his game–a consistent jump shot would be nice. RW just needs to get more control over his shot selection–he already HAS a very nice pull-up j. He needs to shrink his game a few feet & cut down on the kamikaze drives to the hoop. KD needs to put on some muscle…but that may have to wait a year if he really is committed to the Olympics. I’d like to see LeBron continue to refine his post game, work on a drop step & a spin move, maybe. A more consistent jumper would be nice, but seriously, if LeBron is more than 15 feet from the basket in the half-court something is wrong with The Force.

    Posted by Sin | June 26, 2012, 2:52 pm
  19. The FA situation could be interesting for Miami–I expect their are quite a few veteran sharp-shooters who watched this series and had Liz Lemon “I want to go there” moments. And then there’s the ageless Steve Nash–he could be the real free agent wild card in this post-season. If Nash ends up with a top 3 team things could become very, very interesting.

    Posted by Sin | June 26, 2012, 2:58 pm
  20. I like the article, although it really doesn’t recap the Finals at all. This is more of a Lebron validation argument+2012 Farewell and I couldn’t agree more that Lebron and the Heat deserved the title. They went and earned it. Any reasonable basketball fan can do nothing but respect that.

    Posted by J.T. | June 27, 2012, 10:29 am
  21. I hope Miami can grab Ray Alan that would be a huge pick up. Anyone else after that is just a bonus.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | June 28, 2012, 2:06 pm
  22. Well, whatever you say, whether you like LeBron and the Miami Heat or not, you can do nothing about it. It is already written in the history of the NBA that LeBron won a title, 3 MVP’s, and a Final MVP. And a real lover of basketball excellence is always appreciative and thankful that there were/are/will be basketball greats. Haters will always hate, but lovers will always love no matter what.

    Posted by isamal | June 29, 2012, 8:45 am
  23. This article is well written as usual and you always seem to be on point Realist and I appreciate that. Question for you though. You say Bron is top 10 all time. Do you have him in front of Kobe or is Kobe ranked higher than top 10? I personally have LeBron as a top 15 player but Kobe somewhere in front of him. Can you elaborate on that? Thanks.

    Posted by Ansjan Turner | June 30, 2012, 6:53 pm
    • Ansjan – Thank you for your support and kind words.

      In response to you question, I definitely put Lebron above Kobe for many of the reasons that I mentioned in the article. I also plan on elaborating in more detail in a future piece, but wanted to ease up on the Lebron content for now :)

      In sum, I still have yet to hear a compelling reason as to why one would take Kobe over Lebron. Once we get past the ring counting – which Lochpster had done a good job devaluing – we find that Lebron supercedes Kobe in nearly every other category, with the exception of Longevity awards (most All-Star appearances, All-NBA, etc..) of which I give less importance vs. dominance.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | July 2, 2012, 10:13 pm
      • Ok I definitely understand. When debating Kobe vs LeBron it’s really to me what a person values more, peak value or longevity. I think LeBron has been the better player for some time now (not a knock on Kobe). Thanks for the response to my question.

        Posted by Ansjan Turner | July 13, 2012, 8:05 pm
  24. I would have LeBron still around #18 or so. He has to accrue some more data to rank higher. Another 4-5 years of similar production and he will be around 30,000 points and 7500 assists and 7500 rebounds. James would be the first and only player at those levels.

    I cannot speak for Realist, but I have it:

    Jordan
    Russell
    Abdul-Jabbar
    Bird
    Johnson
    Chamberlain
    Duncan
    West
    Robertson
    Olajwuan
    Moses Malone
    Shaq
    Bryant
    Havlicek
    Baylor
    Pettit
    Karl Malone
    James
    Barkely
    Erving

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | June 30, 2012, 11:25 pm
  25. James should pass Karl Malone, Pettit and Baylor next year, possibly Bryant and Hondo, too.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | June 30, 2012, 11:26 pm
  26. I already put James above Kobe. I think that if(and as) James racks up more titles he will keep rising in the ranks, but hes already a better player then Kobe is or ever has been. I would take Lebron in his prime over Kobe in his prime. You can see this based on how well they carry scrubs. Lebron had top seeded scrub teams while Kobe had average scrub teams at best. So as a 1 on 1 player I think Lebron is better. Its not totally about rings to me, its about who is the better all around player and who I would take if I was building an NBA team. That is why MJ is number 1, because he would be my first choice to start a team from NBA players.

    I don’t have Russell in my top 5 because hes not from the Era I grew up watching and I question his value as an all time player. I wonder if he could carry a team or if he is mainly a defensive piece that can get a team over the top. I think its more of the defense.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | July 2, 2012, 9:45 pm
    • “Lebron had top seeded scrub teams while Kobe had average scrub teams at best.”

      Top seeded scrub team is an oxymoron.

      But to play your game, MJ had average “scrub” teams as well.

      Posted by Gil Meriken | July 2, 2012, 11:16 pm
      • Gil Grant and Pippen(one of the top 50 players of all time) are scrubs now? Steve Kurr(he of 7 rings) is a scrub? You think MJ won 6 titles with scrubs? Your out of your mind.

        My point was that Lebron carried crap players further then Kobe ever did.

        Posted by nightbladehunter | July 7, 2012, 9:03 am
  27. I agree that LeBron’ speak value is much better than Bryant’s, BUT Kobe has an obvious advantage in career value.

    You have to consider both elements.

    Should James’ career end right now, Kobe would have to rank higher.

    Longevity must be a factor in compiling these lists.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 2, 2012, 10:35 pm
  28. Great Article,

    I, like yourself, am not a LeBron fan. I actually am a Lakers fan and because of that I am a fan of Kobe Bryant. Kobe is no longer the Best Player in the League. I am not sure if I am willing to concede 2009 but anything after 2010 I am willing to. I thoroughly enjoyed the article. It was objective and fair from all standpoints. The one aspect that I take issue with is the treatment of Spoelstra. Does he need to win a Championship without LeBron James to prove his ability to coach? Pat Riley won his championships with legendary players (Magic, Shaq). Phil Jackson, even though he won 11, 6 of them are with the greatest player of all time and the other 5 are with two other top 10/15 players (Kobe, Shaq). When Jordan first left, he failed to win…Just a thought. By no means am I putting Spoelstra and Jackson in the same league, I am simply trying to apply the same Standard for both of them. Thoughts?

    Posted by Jared | August 3, 2012, 7:51 am
    • I think its totally silly to say that Coach Spo needs to win one without Lebron James to prove his ability to coach. No one says well Doc Rivers needs to win one without the Big 3 to prove he can coach. Miami in the two seasons this group has been together has made two trips the finals and won 1 title. Every other team in the league would love to trade their last two seasons for Miami’s last two seasons. He has held the team together through the ups and downs and got enough out of Miami’s role players and got the team to totally buy into the way he coaches. If you listen to him on the sidelines between games and listen to him speak after games then you would know he guides this team with a steady hand. Which is exactly what this group needs. Someone to cut through the media circus that is always around the team.

      Posted by nightbladehunter | August 4, 2012, 1:13 pm
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