NBA’s LeBron reignites ‘GOAT’ debate after breaking NBA goal record

By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) – The debate over who is the greatest player of all time in the NBA may never be settled, but some observers may finally be ready to give LeBron James an edge over Michael Jordan after breaking one of the most sacred records this week of the game has broken.

Beating Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s nearly 40-year-old record as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer on Tuesday is one of the most remarkable statistical achievements of modern times and a testament to James’ continued dominance.

After etching his name into the annals of NBA history as the all-time leading scorer, the Los Angeles Lakers forward has made no secret of where he feels he belongs in the debate surrounding the “GOAT” — a label that refers to ” The Greatest Of refers to All Time.

“Personally, I will always put myself against anyone who has ever played this game, but everyone will have their favourite, everyone will decide who their favorite is,” James said after Tuesday’s game.

“I know what I bring to the table every night and what I can do on this floor. I always feel like I’m the best person to have played this game, but there are so many other great ones out there and I’m happy to just be a part of the journey.”

Given that James and Jordan played in different eras and had their own obstacles to overcome in order to achieve greatness in their respective careers, finding consensus on the “GOAT” seems highly unlikely.

The two players’ careers never intersected as Jordan retired for the third and final time, two months before James was picked up by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA draft.

Jordan averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 1,072 regular season games over 15 seasons, while James, now in his 20th season, averaged 27.2 points in 1,410 games during his NBA career , 7.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists in 1,410 games.

Those who favor Jordan, who embodied greatness on the court, are quick to point out that he hit a perfect 6-0 in the NBA Finals and led the Chicago Bulls to two trebles in the 1990s. James has four titles in 10 trips to the NBA Finals.

Two months ago, the NBA even renamed its Most Valuable Player award after Jordan, who won the trophy awarded to regular-season MVP five times during his career in the Hall of Fame. James has been named MVP four times.


Perhaps the most compelling argument for James, who may be the most tested player the NBA has ever seen, is that he’s managed to dominate so many different aspects of the game over the years.

At 38, James continues to raise the bar when it comes to what pundits say is possible for an elder statesman in a league where the median age was 26 at the start of the 2022-23 season.

When it comes to longevity, James has a clear advantage and the cushion he holds over Jordan in terms of total career points, assists and rebounds is only growing as he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.

“It’s great that he can still play like this in year 20. His athleticism is amazing and I’m happy for him,” said Dallas Mavericks great player Dirk Nowitzki in December. “I always say Michael Jordan is the GOAT. But…I’m kind of running out of arguments for Michael.”

Former NBA coach George Karl, whose teams have faced both Jordan and James, also weighed in on the GOAT debate last month. Karl suggested that Jordan would have been even more dominant in today’s game amid a league-wide trend in favor of offense.

“Anybody debating Michael’s GOAT status doesn’t know that in the modern game he would have an average triple-double of 40 PPG!” Karl, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame last year, wrote on Twitter.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Christian Radnedge)


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