Today is the 30th birthday of LeBron James, current Cleveland Cavaliers superstar and, already, one of the greatest basketball players to ever grace the court. His list of accomplishments, in just his twelfth season, are mind-blowing: 2-time NBA Champion, 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist, 4-time NBA Most Valuable Player, 10-time NBA All-Star, and so forth. Not to mention, his abundance of endorsements, including Nike, Samsung, and McDonald’s.
Standing at 6’8, 250 pounds, LeBron’s combination of size and quickness, boosted by one of the most versatile skill-sets in NBA history (scoring, passing and defense are all on elite levels), has created an almost superhuman persona, even in comparison to other players.
As both a player and person, LeBron James is the ideal statesman for the league. He participates in many charitable endeavors and is rarely involved in any widespread fiascos of any kind. In fact, “The Decision,” the infamous special ESPN aired when LeBron announced he was “taking his talents to South Beach,” is the biggest media scrutiny the mega-star has faced in his career.
Fast forward to 2014, LeBron is now one of the most well-liked athletes in all of sports, with many young kids emulating him on their local basketball courts. All it took was winning multiple titles and finally translating his immense talent and hype into championship rings. A heroic return home to Cleveland didn’t hurt his case either!
Though LeBron has done plenty to separate himself from controversy and criticism, he still has skeptics. However, his impressive character has limited the discussion to his performance on the floor. And this time, pundits are questioning the level of greatness he will reach, not ostracizing him for what has yet to be done.
In the end, even if LeBron happens to win 8 NBA Championships, to go along with 8 MVP Awards and 15-17 All-Star selections, there will still be loyal followers of Michael Jordan that maintain “His Airness” was the greatest basketball player of all time. No matter where LeBron ends up, in terms of statistics, once it is all said and done, he will have the best case to challenge Jordan’s unofficial title of “greatest ever.”
That being said, LeBron still has work to do. With the over-saturation of social media and the extensive coverage that common athletes get, let alone superstars, it may be difficult for LeBron to reach the level of global superstardom that Jordan experienced during his playing career. However, if LeBron can continue to build his brand, he has the chance to catch Jordan in both popularity and overall success on the court.
Whatever heights LeBron James eventually reaches when he finally decides to relinquish his crown, NBA fans are wise to cherish the King’s prime, as we may not see a talent such as his come along in a very long time. With many accomplishments yet to occur, it is safe to say the legend of LeBron James will continue to grow exponentially.