As four-time MVP, LeBron James continues to set records and strive for NBA championships. It’s finally time to consider: Is LeBron the greatest small forward of all time?
Surely, an argument could be made for it. His ability to play all five positions offensively, and also defend every position on the court has been unparalleled in NBA history; nobody has matched his versatility.
Before you go off and make such a claim, you have to really consider the other legends that have played the small forward position. Right now, the alleged battle is between LeBron James and Larry Bird, who has been considered the greatest small forward ever.
However, there are still other great players who you have to think about before you just say “LeBron is better than this guy.” The list of Hall of Famers includes: James Worthy, Dominique Wilkins, Julius “Dr. J” Erving and especially Scottie Pippen, you know, that guy that played with Michael Jordan.
Can LeBron James surpass all these legends, even Bird? Of course he can. Has he already surpassed them? I wouldn’t jump to such conclusions.
You can’t say that Pippen was better than James because of his rings, but you can make the case that his overall, well-rounded game was close to, if not on the same level as LeBron’s today.
You also can’t say that LeBron is better than The Human Highlight Reel or Dr. J was just because Wilkins nor Erving never won a championship, but you can make the claim that LeBron is more dynamic offensively than Dominique was in the Golden Age, and that James has the ability to pass the great Julius on the offensive record books.
It’s extremely difficult to try to compare and contrast LeBron to Larry Bird. They played in completely different eras, and were just completely different players.
James has the unmatched athleticism and strength, and his work ethic is incredible. He’s always trying to improve something about his game, even when he’s the best player in the world.
Bird is a different story. Larry didnâ€™t look like a basketball player. He didn’t play like a typical star basketball player. He couldnâ€™t run, and he couldnâ€™t jump, yet every time you turned, there he was. Winning. I never actually got to watch him play, but when I see what Bird did I can tell that he had a will that couldn’t be matched. Not even by LeBron.
Bird never had great athleticism, but he seemed to always be at the exact right place at the exact right time. He sure could shoot, and he sure could pass. Combined with his size for rebounding and just his pure talent, there’s no question that Larry Legend was the best to play his position.
It’s simply too soon to say that King James has surpassed what Larry Legend did back in the 80’s. Am I saying that when it’s all said and done that LeBron won’t go down as being better than Bird? Absolutely not, I believe it will happen. We forget that LeBron still isn’t even 30 years old, there’s still so much time for him to pile up his stats and win more titles. He’s just not there as of right now.
-Justin Hodges is a staff writer for ProSportsExtra.com