Let the debate as to where LeBron James ranks among the greatest players of all time begin again.
On ESPN’s “First Take,” Stephen A. Smith said that, in his opinion, James is now the second greatest NBA player ever, trailing only Michael Jordan.
When host Molly Qerim posed the question, “Is it time to finally concede that LeBron James is the greatest we’ve ever seen?” Smith offered his take.
“No, I would never concede that,” Smith said. “I repeatedly stated that on many occasions. But I do want to congratulate him because I do think he’s the second greatest player to have ever lived.
“I think he’s on the Mount Rushmore of basketball. He’s absolutely phenomenal. I would remind everybody that I have picked him to be my league MVP this year and the Lakers to win the [NBA championship] because of this man, LeBron James.”
It appears the question was posed because on Tuesday night, James became the first NBA player to record a triple-double against every NBA team throughout his career.
Ever since James won his first world title in 2012, the debate of where he ranks on the all-time list has been a hotly contested one.
The vast majority of fans and mainstream media pundits feel he’s one of the top three, or at least top five greatest basketball players ever.
But there are still some dissenters who point to James’ 3-6 record in the NBA Finals and his apparent lack of the killer instinct and clutch exploits that made Jordan and Kobe Bryant legendary.
Smith has regularly cited those two deficits in James’ resume over the years.
But if James continues to do what he’s been doing, and if the Lakers do indeed win the NBA championship this season, maybe Smith won’t change his newfound opinion on James’ all-time ranking.