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LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan

  • CougLJ
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Posted: 6/2/2014 12:32 PM

LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan Post Rating (1 vote)


I thought I would start a thread on the LeBron legacy thing and where he compares with other all time greats. (Yeah, I know this has done a million times, but the Finals don't start until Thursday and it will kill some time.)


For starters, I will admit I am a big LeBron fan. I tend to favor the facilitator type player more than the dominant scorer. That said, I finally got around to watching the "Bad Boys" ESPN documentary and Michael Jordan was a BAD A$$. Great, great athlete and insanely driven to succeed. He looked like a different species on the clips they showed of the Bulls vs. Pistons series. Hard to argue with anyone claiming Jordan was the best ever.

Magic was the all time best facilitator there ever was in the NBA. Hard to beat if you wanted someone to build a team around. HIs spirit, leadership and all around positive influence would be hard to top, maybe only Bill Russell could top him.

Larry Bird was GREAT. In the "Bad Boys" documentary, Bird got a lot of coverage and it was the Celtics the Pistons had to top before getting to the mountain top. In the famous: "Larry Bird would be just another player if he was a black." controversy segment, I forgot Bird went for 37/9/9 in the deciding 7th game of the Eastern Conference Finals won by the Celtics. I think Bird and LeBron would have a blast playing on the same team.

I work with a huge Laker/Kobe fan and I told him Kobe was: Jordan-light ....a kind of K-Mart knock-off of Michael Jordan. Not much difference between Kobe and MJ when it comes to skills and athleticism, but there can only by one Michael Jordan and, IMO, Kobe made a mistake by so openly imitating MJ. ....On the other hand, he could not have picked a better player to emulate.

Tim Duncan is hard one to compare the others with, though he is clearly an all-time great player. Most have Duncan in the Top Ten. Bill Simmons, in his book of top 96 players has Duncan at #7 and that was three or four seasons ago.

If someone put a gun to my head, I would put LeBron 2nd after Jordan - though, I would be much more comfortable making that claim should the Heat win the Finals and LeBron wins the Championship MVP. There is 50/50 chance of that happening. Even if it doesn't happen, LeBron is only 29 years of age and should have at least five years left in his career where he is in the running for the league MVP.

Can totally understand how others would put Magic, Bird, Duncan ahead of LeBron. Not so sure about Kobe.
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  • cardluv
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Posted: 6/2/2014 1:04 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan 


On his current trajectory, I'd give him # 2 behind Jordan. I think a lot of people only look at the offensive side of the ball when making these selections. There are some incredibly talented players on that list but what clearly separates him from the others is his ability to defend 3-4 positions. He's a lock-down defender who has guarded the opponents toughest player from David West to Keven Durant and to Derrick Rose. No one else on that list can do that, except for maybe Jordan.
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Posted: 6/2/2014 1:06 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan Post Rating (4 votes)


Bill Russell, Wilt, Jerry, Hakeem, Oscar, Kareem, and Elgin say Hi.

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Posted: 6/2/2014 1:07 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan 


It is the five championships and 7 trips to the Finals that puts Kobe ahead of LeBron in most people's opinions (mine included).  Yes, he has had a better supporting cast most of the time.  But that's just the way it is.

It's hard for me to give all of the credit to Shaq for the first three as so many do, because Kobe was the common denominator between those years and three more trips to the Finals, not Shaq.  

If I HAD to compare LeBron to someone, it would be Scottie Pippen.  He is in that mold, just much more dominating physically.  He's like Karl Malone with Pippen's speed and skill.  He's a very unreal physical specimen.  But the skillset is that of a versatile small forward.


CatFansince73: Louisville could sign three quarterbacks like Teddy Bridgewater and still lose to UK by two or three touchdowns next year. 
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Posted: 6/2/2014 1:18 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan 


I may be the only person who feels this way but, I don't put Jordan way above all others like most people do. There have been some great older players that I like better. Chamberlin, Kareem, Magic, Bird, Oscar among those.
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Posted: 6/2/2014 1:18 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan 


I am a Lakers fan as well, but I can't put Magic at the top of the list because he was so suspect on defense. His resume I think is better than Jordan's overall with 9 Finals appearances in 12 full seasons (not counting the comeback seasons for either) versus Jordan's 6 in 13. But he was not a two way player. He could do EVERYTHING else though, and started at all five positions at one point in his career or another. Focusing on modern players (75-present as the game has changed to much), I think you have to include Kareem on the list as well. Not saying he should be number one, but I'd put him on there above Duncan.

I would put the top four as Jordan, LeBron, Shaq, Magic, and Bird in the modern era. Kobe and Kareem are the next two. I moved them down from the top five, if only because I can trade either of them for a contemporary player from that time who was good (but not quite as good as them) and get a similar result. I can't with four of the top five. I could have traded Kareem for Ewing or Parish for the last 4 title teams and probably still won. I could have traded Kobe for McGrady or Grant Hill when healthy) teamed with Shaq and still won the first three titles, and traded Kobe with Wade, or LeBron and won his last two. I can't trade LeBron, Shaq, Magic, or Bird with anyone else playing during their time and get the same results Although I do wonder what would happen if I switched Magic and Bird?

One person I left off the trade list was Jordan. If I trade Jordan for Drexler, I think I still get the first three title teams to the finals. The problem of course is if I make that trade, while the Bulls still make it to the Finals with Drexler, Pippen, and Horance Grant, I am then facing a LOADED Portland team with Jordan in place of Drexler, with Kersey, Buck Williams, Terry Porter, and Kevin Duckworth (and lord help us if that causes Sabonis who was under contract to come over early). That team wins 10 straight championships from about 1989 - 1998.
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Posted: 6/2/2014 1:22 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan 



CKYCardFan wrote:
It's hard for me to give all of the credit to Shaq for the first three as so many do, because Kobe was the common denominator between those years and three more trips to the Finals, not Shaq.  

Yeah but he had Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol during the next the next four trips. The common denominator was an all-star center. Without one, he was ready to bolt town.

CKYCardFan wrote:

If I HAD to compare LeBron to someone, it would be Scottie Pippen.  He is in that mold, just much more dominating physically.  He's like Karl Malone with Pippen's speed and skill.  He's a very unreal physical specimen.  But the skillset is that of a versatile small forward.
That is an apt comparison. Although statistically he is probably closer to Bird on offense, and has the Bird versatility where Bird played both forward spots, center, and point guard for the Celtics, similar to LeBron. But when you add in defense, Pippen is probably the best comparison. A "rich man's Pippen if you will.
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Posted: 6/2/2014 1:25 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan 


Before I start, I'll say that I like LeBron and watching him play. Of the names you mentioned, I think that he's definitely past Duncan and Kobe. Overall, taking every attribute into account, neither can quite measure up as a total player, with regards to scoring, rebounding, facilitating, and defending. Of the guys that jimthefin mentioned, I'd say that Bill Russell has to be ahead of LeBron for now, and with Wilt and Kareem it's close. Magic, Bird, and Jordan are the three guys that definitely are ahead of LeBron at this point in time. If he continues at the current pace (as an above poster said), being in contention for the MVP until his mid thirties and probably winning a couple of championships, then he likely would pass the four guys I think are ahead of him, with him being just behind Jordan. If he continues the dominance that he's currently exhibiting, winning more MVPs and a lot of championships, then he could be in contention as the GOAT. But that's a long way off.

To recap, I think it's pretty likely that LeBron ends up bring regarded as the second best ever, and there's also a decent chance that he ends up being regarded as the best.

Last edited 6/2/2014 1:30 PM by HorsePig3

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Posted: 6/2/2014 1:37 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan Post Rating (1 vote)


Jordan, Russel, Bird, Johnson, Robertson, Chamberlain, Jabbar, Bryant, James.

I'm not sure you can put those names in ANY order that wouldn't be the subject of very legitimate argument as to who would need to move up and who should be moved down the list.  On a different, related issue, it would also be hard to get me to agree that LeBron James' name doesn't belong on the list with these others.  And belonging on this list is keeping some pretty rarified company.  Whatever.  Haters gonna hate.  That's their problem.
ACC, ready or not, here we come! Old 41-9 is back! Rick Pitino Hall of Fame. What a great time to be a Louisville Cardinal fan!  Go Cards!
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  • CougLJ
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Posted: 6/2/2014 1:53 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan 


I didn't mention the great centers, specifically, Russell, Wilt and Kareem because they played dramatically different positions, though I would probably rate ALL three ahead of LeBron at this time. All three have been legitimately mentioned as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) by various sources, ahead of Jordan.

LeBron already has an impressive resume of 4 MVPs, 2 championships and 2 Final MVPs, with a rarely if ever seen skill-set and athletic ability, so I see LeBron as already someone to be considered. In a couple of weeks, the resume could be even more impressive.

As for Kobe, I saw Shaq as the lead dog in the first three Laker Championships and Kobe always had a very strong supporting cast, but the case could certainly be made to place Kobe ahead of LeBron.
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Posted: 6/2/2014 1:56 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan 


When talking comparisons and LeBron you have to remember LeBron is still ticking. All the others on the list are either done or on the way out (Kobe). LBJ has two rings and is 30 years old. How long will he play? How many more rings will he get? That's a big factor when making these lists.

At the moment most have him 2nd or at least third on the list. That's with just two rings. If he gets 5 with the statistics he has and wins 3 or 4 more MVPs I think his argument as the best ever will be a great one.
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Posted: 6/2/2014 2:02 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan Post Rating (3 votes)


Why does Bird still get included in these lists? To give us a token white guy? He was a great shooter and leader, but the NBA's history is filled with guys like that. Defensively? Rebounding? Ehhhh.... Lebron takes his SF spot in the All-Time lineup at this point, or maybe Kobe due to rings.
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Posted: 6/2/2014 2:03 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan 


Good thread.

I like Jordan as the best with Magic #2. LeBron isn't done yet so it's hard to put him above those 2 at the moment. My all time top 10 includes LeBron and Duncan but until they are both completely done, it's really hard to place them in any type of order just yet. Duncan is much closer to being done though. That's for sure. If Duncan wins his 5th, he's probably going to retire.
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Posted: 6/2/2014 2:17 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan Post Rating (3 votes)



LouisVillain wrote: Why does Bird still get included in these lists? To give us a token white guy? He was a great shooter and leader, but the NBA's history is filled with guys like that. Defensively? Rebounding? Ehhhh.... Lebron takes his SF spot in the All-Time lineup at this point, or maybe Kobe due to rings.

You are aware that Larry Bird 10+ rebounds per game for fully HALF of the seasons he played, and averaged 9 rebounds per game 11 of the 13 seasons he played right? I mean you specifically mentioned rebounding, as though you've never actually seen him plau. He also has a career 6 assist per game average, at the small forward position. I mean thru age 29, here is each player's statistical performance:

Per game
RkPlayerFromToGGSMPFGFGAFG%3P3PA3P%2P2PA2P%FTFTAFT%TRBASTSTLBLKTOVPTS
1Larry Bird*1980198871168438.59.919.60.5030.61.70.3779.217.90.5154.75.30.87910.26.11.80.83.225
2LeBron James2004201484284139.59.919.90.4971.340.3418.5160.5356.48.60.7477.26.91.70.83.327.5
Per 36 minutes
RkPlayerFromToGGSMPFGFGAFG%3P3PA3P%2P2PA2P%FTFTAFT%TRBASTSTLBLKTOVPTS
1Larry Bird*19801988711684273719.218.30.5030.61.60.3778.616.70.5154.450.8799.65.71.70.8323.4
2LeBron James2004201484284133276918.10.4971.23.60.3417.814.50.5355.87.80.7476.66.31.60.7325.1


You seriously trying to say all he does is shoot?
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Posted: 6/2/2014 2:56 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan Post Rating (5 votes)



adcorbett wrote:
LouisVillain wrote: Why does Bird still get included in these lists? To give us a token white guy? He was a great shooter and leader, but the NBA's history is filled with guys like that. Defensively? Rebounding? Ehhhh.... Lebron takes his SF spot in the All-Time lineup at this point, or maybe Kobe due to rings.

You are aware that Larry Bird 10+ rebounds per game for fully HALF of the seasons he played, and averaged 9 rebounds per game 11 of the 13 seasons he played right? I mean you specifically mentioned rebounding, as though you've never actually seen him plau. He also has a career 6 assist per game average, at the small forward position. I mean thru age 29, here is each player's statistical performance:

Per game
Rk Player From To G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% FT FTA FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
1 Larry Bird* 1980 1988 711 684 38.5 9.9 19.6 0.503 0.6 1.7 0.377 9.2 17.9 0.515 4.7 5.3 0.879 10.2 6.1 1.8 0.8 3.2 25
2 LeBron James 2004 2014 842 841 39.5 9.9 19.9 0.497 1.3 4 0.341 8.5 16 0.535 6.4 8.6 0.747 7.2 6.9 1.7 0.8 3.3 27.5
Per 36 minutes
Rk Player From To G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% FT FTA FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
1 Larry Bird* 1980 1988 711 684 27371 9.2 18.3 0.503 0.6 1.6 0.377 8.6 16.7 0.515 4.4 5 0.879 9.6 5.7 1.7 0.8 3 23.4
2 LeBron James 2004 2014 842 841 33276 9 18.1 0.497 1.2 3.6 0.341 7.8 14.5 0.535 5.8 7.8 0.747 6.6 6.3 1.6 0.7 3 25.1


You seriously trying to say all he does is shoot?
Oh no, you disagree with me!!! Obviously that means I never watched Larry play. Yes his defense and rebounding get an 'ehhh' from me, deal with it.

Stats comparisons across eras are so totally relevant. It's not as if the pace of play, rules of play or anything else have changed in the past 30 years...
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Posted: 6/2/2014 3:00 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan Post Rating (6 votes)


It's not that I disagree with you. I could not care less about that. You made a statement with no basis in reality and tried to pass it off as fact. You know, saying he was not a good rebounder despite finishing in the top ten in rebounding 7 times in his first seven seasons, and bad defense despite being in the top ten in steals a couple of times, six top ten finishes in defensive effiency ratings, being number one in defensive win shares in FOUR different seasons and number 2 two other times, and being on the all NBA defense (second team) in three separate seasons? Yup, he surely can't rebound or play defense all right. This is not about disagreement, it is about you saying something that makes ABSOLUTELY no sense whatsoever to support a pretty flimsy stance that Bird is included on these lists because he is white, and not at all because he lead teams to three titles and five title appearances in nine years, with three other conference finals in between, while collecting three MVPs, three FINALS MVP's, and being a 9 time first team all NBA player and 12 time all-star, while fighting off some of the best in the history of the business on the way, including Jordan, Isaiah, Dominique, Dr. J, Barkley, etc to get those Finals.


No, not at all, did ANY OF THAT have to do with that as to why he is included, and it was purely because he was white. rolleyes

Last edited 6/2/2014 9:16 PM by adcorbett

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Posted: 6/2/2014 3:10 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan 



LouisVillain wrote:
adcorbett wrote:
LouisVillain wrote: Why does Bird still get included in these lists? To give us a token white guy? He was a great shooter and leader, but the NBA's history is filled with guys like that. Defensively? Rebounding? Ehhhh.... Lebron takes his SF spot in the All-Time lineup at this point, or maybe Kobe due to rings.

You are aware that Larry Bird 10+ rebounds per game for fully HALF of the seasons he played, and averaged 9 rebounds per game 11 of the 13 seasons he played right? I mean you specifically mentioned rebounding, as though you've never actually seen him plau. He also has a career 6 assist per game average, at the small forward position. I mean thru age 29, here is each player's statistical performance:

Per game
RkPlayerFromToGGSMPFGFGAFG%3P3PA3P%2P2PA2P%FTFTAFT%TRBASTSTLBLKTOVPTS
1Larry Bird*1980198871168438.59.919.60.5030.61.70.3779.217.90.5154.75.30.87910.26.11.80.83.225
2LeBron James2004201484284139.59.919.90.4971.340.3418.5160.5356.48.60.7477.26.91.70.83.327.5
Per 36 minutes
RkPlayerFromToGGSMPFGFGAFG%3P3PA3P%2P2PA2P%FTFTAFT%TRBASTSTLBLKTOVPTS
1Larry Bird*19801988711684273719.218.30.5030.61.60.3778.616.70.5154.450.8799.65.71.70.8323.4
2LeBron James2004201484284133276918.10.4971.23.60.3417.814.50.5355.87.80.7476.66.31.60.7325.1


You seriously trying to say all he does is shoot?
Oh no, you disagree with me!!! Obviously that means I never watched Larry play. Yes his defense and rebounding get an 'ehhh' from me, deal with it.

Stats comparisons across eras are so totally relevant. It's not as if the pace of play, rules of play or anything else have changed in the past 30 years...
He averaged 10 rebounds 2 steals and 1 block per game for his career.
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Posted: 6/2/2014 3:14 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan 


On top of that Ken, unless the people who played with during those seasons him are someone in "different eras," I am not sure how finishing in the top ten in rebounds each year, from the small forward position no less, is somehow not a good rebounder. Especially being that he played with Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, and in some years Bill Walton and Cedric Maxwell, all good rebounders in their own right. Or how his defensive statistics are off the chart, and he kept making all NBA defense despite the players he was up against. And remember back then those teams were position specific, whereas now you might see two small forwards and two centers on an all-defensive team, or three power forwards on the all-NBA team.

Last edited 6/2/2014 3:16 PM by adcorbett

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Posted: 6/2/2014 3:39 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan 


I suspect if you polled 10,000 avid basketball fans who have been avid basketball fans for a minimum of 40 years, you might find a small number, in terms of percentage, who would think Bird was not one of the best of all time.  Some who feel that way represented here, as a matter of fact.  Discounting right or wrong altogether, the fact is many more would include Bird on the list than not.  Yes, it is opinion, in my estimation, prevailing opinion would make Bird one of the all timers.
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Posted: 6/2/2014 4:12 PM

Re: LeBron/Jordan/Bird/Magic/Kobe/Duncan 


I was a Lakers/Magic Johnson fan so I hated Bird and the Celtics. But,I have to give credit where it's due and Bird is no doubt an all-time great. Magic and Bird were mirror images of each other with little separation between the two. If Bird's not an all-time great, then Magic isn't either.
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