The King of What? Great Stats and good but not great teams.
I admire and respect Lebron James. I always have. His rags to riches story, along with being the most hyped athlete maybe of all time at age 17 and actually achieving and overachieving on the hype, are just a few reasons. But today, I want to really examine if we (the fans) and the media, are putting too much emphasis on his greatness.
His stats are top 5 ever. That is no doubt. But I want to talk about WINNING and LEADING, and being "stellar" into his mid-late 30s.
First off, his stats. I'll keep this brief. On his career, he averages 27/7/7 on 50% shooting. To compare to MJ and Kobe: MJ was 30/6/5 on just under 50% shooting. Kobe was 25/5/5 on 45% shooting. So his stats are maybe 1st or 2nd best ever. Oscar's 25/7/9 are up there too. We know Lebron is amazing at stats. He is tied with Wilt as fifth in all time triple doubles, he is now fourth all time in scoring points, and is 10th in assists, likely up to 8th all time a year from now.
How about winning? 8 seasons out of 11 with the Cavs, his team won 50+ games. YET, only three seasons were "a lot" of wins (57, 61, 66) and that was in a weak weak Eastern Conference, especially the most recent four seasons. On the Heat, he led his team, with a few other All-Stars, to a 224-88 record in four years, which is a 72% winning percentage. But again, his team only won "a lot" of games two times (58, 66). The shortened season, in which the Heat went 46-20, likely would have led to a 57-25 record, which is pretty much a lot of wins, but we will never know.
So, Lebron in his career has only won "a lot" of games 5 times in 15 years. MJ? Kobe? Magic? Bird? Duncan? Dirk? Let's look...
MJ- 9 times won 50 games. Seven times in twelve seasons, he led his team to "a lot" of wins, 55+ wins, and five of those times, 60+ wins.Kobe- I know he had Shaq, but we have to still take a look. In his 20 seasons, he led his team to 50+ wins 11 times, and 10 of those times were "a lot" of wins, with 3 of the seasons at 60+.
Magic- in 13 seasons, counting the 95-96 come back, his team won 50 or more games.In 10 of those seasons, his team won "a lot" and SIX of those were 60+ wins.
Bird- in 13 seasons, 12 were 50+ (the one non-50 win, he was hurt all season), TEN were "a lot" of wins, and SIX were 60+ wins.
Duncan- 19 seasons, ALL of them 50+, 16(!) were "a lot" and five were 60+...
Finally, Dirk, 20 seasons, 12 50+ wins, seven "a lot" and three 60+ wins.
Remember, Lebron was 11 50+, 5 a lot, and only 3 60...Looking at MJ and Magic, who is compared to most often, he has half as many 60 win seasons, and half of "a lot of wins" as Bird and Magic and Kobe.Duncan is the king of a lot of wins, tripling Lebron's teams' totals...Hmm...okay.
Those six players I named also played with just one team their entire careers. Now, I get that player mobility and player power is big in today's game, mainly caused by Lebron, but maybe that means something.Sure, I'd go to Miami to hang out with Wade on and off the court rather than live in Cleveland and hang out with your old high school friends, which was likely a real scenario. But Lebron is now on his fourth leg with three franchises. He doesn't get along with coaches. He is defiant toward them. He doesn't care for them it seems. He doesn't even try to work with them,apparently.
I've always stuck by my opinion that Lebron is better at Kobe in every way except maybe shooting and scoring. I stood by the fact that he was a better winner and leader as well. But think about these simple facts:Kobe's teams won "a lot" of games 10 seasons in the Western Conference, playing against the likes of the Spurs, Mavs, Kings, Suns, Wolves, Blazers, Jazz...Each of these teams at some point had a top 50 player ever (Duncan, Dirk, Webber is maybe close, Nash, KG, Pippen, Malone, etc.), not to mention how solid the Grizzlies were in the early 2010s, and the Thunder as well...AND the Rockets were never bad at all...Lebron's teams won "a lot" of games only 5 seasons in the East, in which the best players he played monthly were Paul Pierce, Wade, aging Iverson, aging Vince, Dwight Howard, aging KG, and then players like Millsap, young Paul George, aging Rip Hamilton...you get the point. Finally, looking at this season vs. the 2011-12 Lakers. They will likely finish with 35-40 wins total. Lebron turned 34 this season. He is averaging 27/8/8.While they have been injured quite a bit, he has a trio, Ingram, Kuzma, and McGee, that is averaging a combined 48 points, 17 rebounds, and 6 assists. Kobe's 2011-12 Lakers, finished 41-25 in a shortened seasons. Likely a 50 win team.He turned 33 that season. He averaged 28/5/4. No secret he couldn't rebound as well as Lebron, and passed less, but he could score still and led his team to more wins. Well what about his help?His trio of Gasol, Bynum, and Ramon Sessions (!), averaged 48 points, 26 rebounds, and 11 assists.Their fourth option was an old Metta World Peace, averaging seven points per game.Lebron's has been a revolving door or Rondo, Ball, Pope, and Hart, all averaging 8-10 points per game. So were the Lakers' helping trios' extra 9 rebounds and 5 assists per game THAT big of a difference maker?Maybe a few games, sure. Maybe Kobe knew one of the two big men would scoop up the missed shots.And maybe Lebron's injury had a serious impact on this year's Lakers.But so did him wanting to trade for Anthony Davis.Once again to the IT sales analogy, "I want a better consultant, the ones that work with me suck"...how would that affect team morale??In a normal job? It would crush it.
If Lebron doesn't get hurt, and the Lakers go 12-6 instead of 6-12 in that stretch, they are still sitting at 36-30, hoping to win 45 games...Kobe's fairly equivalent Lakers would have won 50, and his best shooter next to him was Ramon Sessions... Remember, the two Finals ('07, '18). Lebron drug his team to, without a fellow top 10 talent in the league (Wade, Irving), and outstanding big (Bosh, Love), he is 0-8 in. Sure, he GOT there. But he didn't manage to win a game, being outscored by 84 points in those 8 games, few being close.I know, I know, he had no help and the 2018 Warriors were great. I get that.But without Ray Allen's shot against the Spurs, Kyrie's against the Warriors, Lebron may have one ring to show for his greatness, and only five seasons in which his team managed to win 55 games...