Onyeka Okongwu on LeBron James: ‘To me, he’s the greatest of all time’

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read

After being on the wrong end of an incredible LeBron James performance, Atlanta Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu said that he sees James as the greatest basketball player ever.

In the Los Angeles Lakers’ 130-121 win over the Hawks on Friday, James managed to beat Father Time down with a 47-point performance on his 38th birthday. In addition to his scoring explosion, James also had 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Production like that is rare for any player who’s still in the NBA at James’ age. For the four-time MVP, it’s merely business as usual in his 20th season in the league.

In comparison to James, Okongwu is in his third NBA season and delivering modest numbers for the struggling Hawks.

Okongwu’s opinion of James as the greatest player ever may stem from the fact that James’ NBA career has nearly encompassed Okongwu’s entire lifetime. At the time of James’ NBA debut in October 2003, Okongwu was about two months away from celebrating his third birthday.

That means that Okongwu grew up watching James deliver in all facets of the game while leading his teams to a total of four NBA titles.

Any critics of Okongwu’s opinion will likely argue in favor of other NBA legends such as Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain. For a number of years, Jordan has been seen by many as the best basketball player ever, which by itself has also sparked plenty of debate.

In seemingly any debate comparing James to Jordan, Jordan supporters point to his six NBA titles, compared to James’ four. Yet, James’ teams have reached the NBA Finals on 10 different occasions, compared to Jordan’s six.

James’ 47-point performance on Friday night puts him that much closer to becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. At some point, James will surpass Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring total, which figures to provide more leverage to those who feel that he’s the greatest ever.

In the end, opinions like Okongwu’s are usually heard and quickly forgotten, given that any definitive determination in such debates is impossible. James is no doubt appreciative of Okongwu’s remarks, but he’s currently focused on the Lakers’ immediate future.

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Brad is a freelance writer for LakersDaily.com, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.