LeBron Raymone James is the most underappreciated athlete of all time.
Now before we dig into my appreciation for LeBron, let’s get some things off the table here. I realize he is also one of the corniest athletes of all time. He is a dork with almost zero social skills. He is a notorious flopper and some would say not the most clutch person on Earth. He complains a lot, causes a lot of controversy within his team. He is awful on Instagram. Brutally awful. From congratulating himself before his accomplishments happen to posting 89 Instagram stories boasting about how he got the new Kendrick before it is even released, he is the worst. He handled the decision poorly, I think even he knows that. He proclaimed the Heat would win a bunch of championships before they even played a game. He has no real loyalty to any team and is most likely going to leave his hometown once again in June. He proclaimed himself the Chosen One by getting a tattoo across his entire back. But everyone please don’t forget he is a father of three.
I understand LeBron James brings a lot of the scrutiny he receives upon himself. I realize that this is part of the reason he is underappreciated, because all the above shadows over just how great of a player he actually is. LeBron James will go down as one of the top 3 players in NBA history and I do not think people really appreciate just how great he is on the court.
Last night, LeBron James became the youngest player to eclipse the 30,000 point mark. He joined an exclusive club of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Michael Jordan (32,292), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) and Dirk Nowitzki (30,837 and counting). I understand a lot of this point mark has to do with simply playing a long time in the NBA, but therein lies another reason he is under appreciated.
LeBron James has been putting up consistently superb numbers for his entire career. He has averaged more than 20 ppg every single year for 15 straight years. He has taken 3 different teams to the NBA finals, yes yes whatever I know he has lost a decent amount of those. He has been to the NBA Finals for 7 straight years! The only person to frequent themselves more in their respective sport’s final game of the year is Tom Brady. Tom Brady is now widely considered the best not just quarterback but football player of all time.
LeBron James has a separate Wikipedia page for literally just his accomplishments. Here is a quick snippet of just some of the things he has done is his career thus far:
3× NBA champion: 2012, 2013, 2016
3x NBA Finals MVP: 2012, 2013, 2016
4x NBA Most Valuable Player: 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013
NBA Rookie of the Year: 2004
J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award: 2017
NBA scoring champion: 2008
2× NBA All-Star Game MVP: 2006, 2008
13× NBA All-Star: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
2x NBA minutes leader : 2005, 2017
11x First Team: 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
2x Second Team: 2005, 2007
6× NBA All-Defensive:
5x First Team: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Second Team: 2014
NBA All-Rookie First Team: 2004
36× NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month
59× NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week
6× NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month
Did I mention he only 33 years old? He is having one of the best seasons of his career and shows zero signs of slowing down. He could be adding onto all the above accomplishments for another 5 or so years. He has been the focal point for the best player in the NBA conversation for at least 10 straight years now. He is an absolute machine. A part of this longevity includes your health. LeBron James simply does not get hurt. Maybe he takes HGH, who the hell knows, either way it is beyond impressive.
He is constantly being compared to Michael Jordan which in my opinion NEEDS to stop. If you are going to be considered for the greatest basketball player of all time, I understand the conversation begins with comparisons to Mike. They are two completely different players and have completely different attitudes towards the game of basketball and life. Michael Jordan was an assassin and came off as kind of a dick during that time. He was a great defender, an even better scorer, but when it comes down to it Michael Jordan was simply a guard. LeBron James, as suggested by the first paragraph, is not an assassin. He does not have that killer instinct in him. He is much more than just a guard though. His defense is second to none, he can guard anyone from Boogie Cousins to his boy Kyrie Irving. He has developed a post game, can take the ball to the rim, and has become a superb shooter. As one of my friends recently said, he is the perfect millenial superstar. I couldn’t agree more with this statement. He gets in literally zero trouble. Seriously, in this day in age of social media when it is the easiest to out someone for doing wrong LeBron has done nothing wrong that we know of. He has been in the spotlight since he was plastered all over the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2002. His entire career has been under a spotlight in an era when you can shine that light the brightest.
As I stated, LeBron James deserves scrutiny and brings most of it upon himself. All I am asking is to people start appreciate how great he is at the game of basketball. He is going to do down as the 1b. to Michael Jordan when it comes to the greatest baksetball players of all time. Instead of focusing on all the peripheral parts of LeBron, take some time to appreciate just how great he is at his craft. That is all I ask.