All Hail the King

Nate Levinson, Staff Writer

It’s rare to watch a sporting event and see something or someone historically great that no one has seen before. We watch because, as former Jets head coach Herm Edwards famously said, teams “play to win the game.” But to be truly wowed by athletic feats on the field is uncommon. In recent memory, I’ve felt this “wow factor” with Tiger Woods during his more dominant stretches, and with Roger Federer and the Yankees teams from 1998–2000.

I know I’m witnessing something special every time LeBron James and his Miami Heat take the floor. James’s Heat, who on Sunday increased its season-best win streak to 18 games, has the look of an unstoppable force that won’t rest until the team repeats as NBA champion. That the Heat was able to extend that streak Sunday against the Pacers — a team that has given Miami trouble in the past — with only 13 points from the reigning (and soon to be repeating) MVP shows just how scary this team is.

This article, though, concerns James alone, since there’s no doubt the Heat wouldn’t be anywhere near the juggernaut it is without LeBron. No disrespect to Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and the several great role-players on the Heat, but it’s almost laughable to think that there was once talk that the Heat would always be Wade’s team and that LeBron was not enough of a leader to be a consistent winner.

Speaking of things that are laughable, Michael Jordan’s recently commented that if he was starting a team, he’d choose Kobe Bryant over LeBron. Jordan has a history of downplaying James’s success, but this recent statement has to be the most egregious considering not only the level that James is playing at but also the struggles of Bryant’s Lakers this season. Sure, LeBron has had more time to mesh with his star-studded team than Kobe has had, but let’s not forgot that LeBron took his Heat to the Finals in his first year with the team — while the Lakers are currently on the outside looking in at the playoff picture in the Western Conference.

The statistics favor James, too, as he has Bryant beat in nearly every major category, save points per game, where Bryant edges LeBron by just a single point. James’s shooting percentage, now over 56 percent for the season, is nearly 10 percentage points higher than Bryant’s and by far the highest in the league for someone who takes as many shots as he does. If there’s one area Jordan can point to as evidence that Kobe is a better player, it’s the number of rings he has. Kobe has five to LeBron’s one. But time is on Lebron’s side, as he’s six years younger than Bryant.

Before long, LeBron will have a second title to his name and a run at not only Kobe’s five but Jordan’s six is all but certain for the NBA’s greatest player. It’s high time sports fans — and legends, too — sit back and enjoy the historically great player that LeBron has become. I know I will.