NBA Takes: Let's Talk about the Anti-LeBron Arguments

NBA Takes: Let's Talk about the Anti-LeBron Arguments

I am going to get this out of the way right at the beginning: every person falls into one of these three categories.  

  1. People who agree LeBron James is one of the best basketball players of all time
  2. People who are too biased to objectively analyze LeBron's dominance
  3. People who don't know anything about basketball

That's it. If you are reading this, you fall into one of those groups (hint: if you don't think you do - you're a #2).  

Some of you type 2ers are probably falling back to the two standard anti-LeBron arguments:

  1. He is not Michael Jordan
  2. He chokes in the finals

The first, though factually true, is an indefensibly irrelevant argument.  The second is just wrong.

Comparing Everyone To Michael Jordan (or, The Worst Way to Analyze Anything)

For some reason, the anti-LeBron contingent loves to remind us that LeBron James is not Michael Jordan.  I am not going to get into the merits of this argument today (I have seen arguments both ways and I tend to lean Jordan); I just want to point out its absurdity.  

It really isn't informative to point out that LeBron isn't as good as arguably the best player of all time. In fact, the only information you can gather from this statement is that LeBron is arguably the best player of all time. Notice no one feels the need to tell you J. R. Smith isn't Jordan (I like J. R., he's awesome, but you get the point). 

To demonstrate the futility of this argument, let's apply it to other sports:

Baseball

  • [Statement]: That Mike Trout is amazing.
  • [Response]: Babe Ruth was better.

Football

  • [Statement]: Gronk is an absolute freak of nature.
  • [Response]: Jerry Rice had better hands.

Hockey

  • [Statement]: Sidney Crosby is rather good at hockey.
  • [Response]: Gretzky would have taken him one on one.

If you don't see where this is going, you may be beyond saving. That's really all I have to say about that.

Reminder: Basketball is a Team Sport (example: Andre Iguodala, 2015 Finals MVP)

The other common argument against LeBron is that he "chokes" in the finals. This argument is wrong, but unlike the first, it at least has some basis in numbers (albeit only two of them).  2-4, LeBron's finals record.  (FiveThirtyEight has a great article on this number - read it).

The Church of LeBron Sucks likes to point out that his two titles came during his Miami Heat Big 3 days.  Therefore, LeBron is not that dominant because he only wins rings when surrounded by other superstars.  

Allow me to offer a counter-hypothesis: basketball is a team sport and LeBron's teammates have an impact on the outcome a 7-game series.

Since apparently the presence of Wade and Bosh negate any of LeBron's stats, let's take a look at 2015 and see whether LeBron choked.

 LeBron basically averaged a triple double.  What a freaking choke artist.

LeBron basically averaged a triple double.  What a freaking choke artist.

LeBron led the entire series in points, rebounds, assists, and game score - so no choking here. All that 2015 proves is it's hard to win a title when your team is decimated by injuries and you're relying on Matthew Dellavedova to counteract Steph Curry. Shocking. 

But, the Anti-LeBron Party will say, that has no bearing on this series. If LeBron loses tonight, you can argue he crumbles on the big stage and Jordan never did that (see above).

OK.  Let's take a look a this year's finals through six games.  

 He is also leading in steals and blocks, but if you aren't convinced yet that sure as hell wasn't going to move the needle

He is also leading in steals and blocks, but if you aren't convinced yet that sure as hell wasn't going to move the needle

Yet again, LeBron is dominating every other player on the floor by any reasonable metric.  No choking here.

My Pick

I really don't understand the LeBron hate. We are incredibly lucky to witness this man play the game of basketball, and we all should appreciate it while we can.

LeBron is far and away the best player in this year's finals and he will continue to be in game 7. The math suggests the Warriors regress to the mean, but I think LeBron is going to have a game we will tell our kids about.  

LeBron drops 40 and/or a triple double.  Cavs by 4.

And now your moment of zen:

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