When LeBron James steps onto the court for the first time in a Lakers uniform this season, it will be such an odd feeling. Once thought of as a fantasy move, Magic Johnson pulled the right strings and brought James to Hollywood. Lakers fans and LeBron fans have been going at each others’ throats for over a decade. Kobe vs. LeBron is a debate that’s been argued about since middle school. Now, two extremely passionate fan bases have to come together and show support for each other.
Hollywood is the new place to lay eyes on in the NBA world. Despite the fact that the Golden State Warriors may inevitably three-peat, all the focus shifts to the Lakers. While Los Angeles will always be a Kobe town, LeBron has the city buzzing again. When you think about it, LeBron’s move to Los Angeles wasn’t even the biggest thing he did this off-season.
On the court, while still incomplete, James has one of the most complicated legacies in basketball history. His greatness is unquestioned; three NBA Championships, three Finals MVPs, four regular-season MVPs, and eight consecutive NBA finals appearances. Not to mention, career averages of 27 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists per game. When his career ends, it’s a very real possibility that LeBron can capture the all-time scoring title, be in the top 5 all-time in assists, and reach 10,000 rebounds as well. That is something no player has even hinted at doing, which speaks in great lengths to not only his greatness but his ability to escape a major injury and play at a high level for such a long time.
He brought the city of Cleveland its first professional championship in 54 years and did it while beating the 73-9 Warriors, coming back from a 3-1 deficit, arguably his biggest basketball accomplishment to date. While there are people who will never like LeBron, I certainly hope people appreciate the back half of his career. His career will never be replicated or duplicated.
While his career has brought him extreme highs, there are certainly some lows you have to factor in. His performance in the 2011 Finals is still head-scratching to this very day. Six Finals losses, while not all his fault, is still a dent in his legacy. Whether you like it or not, LeBron is given more leeway for his failures than anybody in professional sports. With LeBron now in the Western Conference, he gets to show his ability to dominate a much more competitive conference.
When considering an all-time great, you have to contemplate the good and bad, and LeBron is no exception to that. It’s also what makes it, so fun to evaluate. His on-court career is up for debate, but what he’s done off-the-court is transcendent. James is setting up a blueprint for other major athletes to follow. The LeBron James Foundation has donated over $41 million and has sent over 1,100 kids to college. It’s hard to do better than that, but LeBron pushed the envelope. This July, he opened up the ‘I Promise’ school, which helps underprivileged kids in the city of Akron receive an education. If those kids graduate high school, they receive a full-ride to Akron University on LeBron’s dime. His awareness to speak out on social issues, something most athletes are hesitant to do, fortifies his off-the-court presence even more.
For the President of the United States to call him “not intelligent” was almost an insult to all basketball fans. On the court and off, LeBron has shown to have one of the most intellectual minds we’ve ever seen. He consumed a reporter telling him to “shut up and dribble” and is now making a documentary titled those same words. James uses his voice and influence better than any professional athlete, and it’s historic to see.
Is LeBron the greatest player of all time? That’s for you to decide. What you can’t argue, however, is how much of an impact he has made on and off the court. His legacy is unique, and that’s a good thing. Appreciate LeBron James for everything he has accomplished.