Perhaps it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, considering the way James has impacted the game. What is interesting, however, is that the list is not merely based on reputation and opinion.
Writer Andy Bailey broke down both averages and advanced metrics to try to create as objective a list as possible.
Those metrics showed that James stands alone when it comes to his box plus/minus rating of 9.1.
“LeBron James isn’t just first all-time in box plus/minus; he’s over a full point ahead of second-place Michael Jordan,” Bailey wrote. “And the distance between LeBron and MJ is about the same as the distance between Jordan and eighth-place James Harden.
“In the cumulative variant of box plus/minus (think of the difference between points and points per game), LeBron’s lead is starting to look like one of those untouchable records, like John Stockton’s total assists.
“LeBron’s cushion there is about the same as the distance between second and 10th place.”
Bailey admitted that from a statistical standpoint, James may be the best. That being said, Bailey also admitted that James simply cannot be considered the greatest.
“But even all of that isn’t quite enough to give LeBron the No. 1 spot,” he wrote. “Yet, statistically, he may be the best. But he’s not the greatest. That comes from winning.”
While James has been to the NBA Finals nine total times, he has come away with an NBA championship just three times. Those three titles compared to Jordan’s six are, and have been, the major reason why Jordan is still considered the greatest of all time for most NBA fans.
That begs the question: If James were to win one or more rings with the Lakers, would fans and experts alike be willing to consider him as the greatest NBA player ever?