It’s no secret that the four-time NBA MVP and two-time NBA Champion is measured alongside the best of all time — Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Oscar Robertson, Tim Duncan and others.
It is difficult to compare the single greatest player of this game all-time with today and make it relative to now. James, however, has thrown his hat into the huge ring of stars, and each championship he wins helps his argument.
The history book has been closed and written on all but Duncan. The Golden State Warriors have grabbed control of the NBA Finals by leading 3-2 over the under-manned, gritty Cleveland Cavaliers after winning game five 104-91. The Warriors have won two straight by playing small ball.
History says the team that wins game five in a best-of-seven NBA Final has gone on to take the crown 20 of 28 times previously. That’s 71.4 percent. James is averaging 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game. He has been remarkable, but judging the greatest player now with the best team is usually how you get around to measuring who ultimately is the game’s greatest player.
It’s a team game. That trophy goes to the NBA’s best team. Somehow, by my standard of measurement, you win championships and measure your titles against the best that have ever played the game. Stephen Curry, the 2015 NBA MVP, scored 37 points
Sunday, to lead his team the Warriors to a 3-2 lead vs. James and the Cavaliers in the Finals, James led everyone with 40 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. It’s the third time James has cracked 40 points or more in the Finals; the record is four, shared by legends Jerry West (1969 vs. Boston) and Michael Jordan in the 1993 Finals vs. Phoenix.
This is the sixth time James has reached the Finals; he has won it twice. In many ways he has become the Jerry West of this era. West was in the Finals it seemed every year back in the day, only to lose to the Boston Celtics.
And he’s still the image on the NBA Logo. Russell won 11 times; Jordan won six; Magic, Kobe and Tim Duncan won five times. Somebody said it a long time ago: Just win, baby, and everything else takes care of itself.
That is James’ greatest challenge. Russell, West, Jordan, Bryant and Duncan all won their titles with one team. James, now with his second stint in Cleveland, is trying to shock the world and do what nobody has done in 51 years, and that is win the big one in Cleveland.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to email@example.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.