LeBron James: More Than An Athlete

LeBron James will always be compared to the NBA’s greats. The Greatest of All Time talk gets repetitive and depending what you have the most stock in, is who you’ll choose at the greatest of all time. If you like championships and believe championships make you the GOAT, you’re a Bill Russell guy. If you think Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls played in the hardest era of basketball, you’re going to believe Michael Jordan is the GOAT.

However, if you believe that technology has grown to help build players in every aspect of their game, you’re going to believe LeBron James is the GOAT. It’ll always be a conversation but here’s what makes LeBron Hames the GOAT. Keep watching to see what LeBron James does to be considered the NBA’s Greatest of All Time.

Treats His Body Like an Investment

In 2016, LeBron’s teammate Mike Miller explained that James treats his body like an investment.

Miller said, via Bleacher Report: ‘Where a lot of people don’t do it, he puts a lot of money behind taking care of his body. A lot of people think it’s a big expense, but that big expense has allowed him to make a lot more money for a long period of time.’

LeBron’s daily routine has him in the top-five in the list of career playoff minutes logged. James doesn’t just have to get ready for the season but he knows that each season will be longer due to the playoffs.

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James has found a way to stay on the court. He hasn’t had a season-ending injury or anything of that stature. “It’s incredible,” said Stephen Silas, an assistant with the Cavaliers during James’ rookie season (and son of then-Cavaliers head coach Paul Silas). “There are players who are injury-prone, and I guess he is just one of those players who is not. He just has that body and that will.”

James is pushing the limits of the typical NBA life span. Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan saw their bodies give it up after logging over 54,000 minutes. Players like Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hung it up after logging 60,000 minutes. James has now played in 48,329 and is leading the Lakers to a top seed in the West while still producing triple-doubles. At his current pace, James will lead in the NBA in minutes played in another couple of years. However, this CoronaVirus outbreak and NBA suspension will set James back in all of his statistics. He’s not getting any younger.

With the skill level that James has to play everyday. With the added pressure on defense and the freak athletes that are in today’s game, it’s mind boggling what James is doing currently. Would Larry Bird have lasted as long as he did in today’s league? Probably not. “(James) knew he was going to play a lot of minutes and that people were going to beat him up,” said Keith Dambrot, who coached James in high school at St. Vincent-St. Mary. “He knew that his body would take tremendous wear and tear, so he started working on this years ago.” At 19-years old, James had the body that was built for the NBA already. He was already ready for the pounding his body would take daily and prepared himself so well. “He didn’t look like any rookie I’ve ever seen before,” Silas said. “His athleticism that accompanied that great body was unbelievable—something I’ve never seen before and haven’t seen since.”

James is no longer focused on weight training. He’d rather work on his movement, flexibility, and use body weight exercises with band resistance. James is worried about recovery not about being the strongest. You can tell how he’s training at home during this whole quarantine thing. He already is strong enough for the league, especially at his age. Back then, every athlete would have the same workout routine. However, James proved to trainers that everyone is different and needs their own workout. He changed how trainers train in sports.

“There’s not a one-dimensional way to train for an NBA player,” said Dave Schierbaum, who has provided offseason training for many of James’ teammates. “It’s on an individual basis based on what you’re doing.” Instead of worrying about being the strongest, athletes are worried about how long they’ll be able to put their body through this type of contact every day. “Now it’s all about longevity,” said Mike Miller, a 16-year NBA veteran. “People are investing a lot of money in this, and they want that product to be out there a long time. These guys are billionaires for a reason, and they don’t want their investment to get hurt. They now put their investment in training.”

Miller said James has always been ahead of the curve in finding new training methods to keep him on the floor. James started a trend using the cryo chamber. It was supposed to be a more effective version of an ice bath that takes just three minutes. For a guy like James who has a hectic schedule from morning to night, the cryo chamber made sense. It’s also known that he gets massages three to four times per week. He’ll sometimes wear therapy boots on the way to the arena to increase blood circulation. The point is, James takes great care of his body and because he’s been able to do that, the contracts he receives have paid off dividends. He’s the GOAT of recovery and training. It’s not what he’s pushing but it’s how he’s pushing himself to his limits. He’s smart about it all.

Mike Miller went as far to say that companies will approach James about using their product before they release it to the market. Don’t get it twisted though, James’ health isn’t just a result of unique technology. He has discipline when it comes to eating and drinking. He’s very aware of everything that goes into his body. “You see him have champagne when they win so I can’t say he doesn’t drink, but he does a really good job of not doing the extra stuff so that his body is healthy,” said Donyell Marshall, his Cavaliers teammate said early in his career. “That’s why you see him getting stronger late in the season when other players wear down.” James is getting up there in age but he’s also the healthiest he’s ever been. “He continues to play 40 minutes a night, and the ball is in his hand at all times,” Miller said. “It’s ridiculous.”

James has said that he has dreams of winning more championships. That’s why he wanted to go to the Lakers. He wants to be the greatest of all time and will do whatever it takes. Next time you see unhealthy snacks on the table, think about LeBron and his discipline.

The Rebuttal

Many people truly believe LeBron James is the GOAT. However, others would mention players like Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in this conversation over LeBron. These people are basically considering championships while including Jordan’s & Kareem’s NCAA titles & careers, longevity, scoring titles & level of competition, impact on the game and it’s not close.

But here’s the deal. LeBron James was and has been the one factor in his championship runs. Wins and loses were on his shoulders. He didn’t have talent like Jordan did during his finals runs when Jordan went 6 and 0 in the championship games. Jordan had Pippen and Jackson. What did Mike do before or after them? If Jordan is better than James, he should’ve won more games without those two helping his cause. James is the best at elevating the team around himself. Jordan got the important buckets but he never helped his team get better like James did.

Look there really shouldn’t be a debate anymore. Ever since Kobe’s death, it feels weird even thinking about debating players being better than each other. It shouldn’t be this difficult to brush aside someone with half the rings of someone else. But it is. It’s clear at this point that LeBron is the greatest perimeter player in history at this point. He does a greater variety of things essential to team success than any other perimeter player. That’s what makes him the GOAT. He has the skill sets of Magic, Jordan, Pippen and Oscar all in one person the size of Karl Malone. How’s that not GOAT status?

He led the NBA finals in all significant statistical categories against the team with the greatest 3 year run in NBA history in the Golden State Warriors. He’s King James and also King of the NBA. Yet people will continue to talk about how Jordan was an artist on the court. Some have said that Lebron is a great player, but he is nowhere near the artist that Jordan was. Plus James doesn’t have as many rings. They point out that Jordan was a winner on the biggest stage. Lebron won a series he was supposed to win.

Magic Johnson

According to Magic Johnson, the GOAT debate could come to an end pretty quickly. Magic Johnson, the former Los Angeles Lakers point guard, thinks that LeBron James is closer than ever to being the GOAT. Of course, Magic Johnson was able to lure LeBron James to the Lakers and should be talking like this after bringing the NBA’s best to Las Angeles. If James can bring a couple titles back to the Lakers after Kobe’s death, the debate seems less of a debate and more of a fact.

At the 29th Annual Achilles Gala in New York City, Johnson described James as ‘a special player’ and said the four-time NBA MVP is ‘playing as well as I’ve ever seen him play’ in his 17th year in the league. This was in January of 2020. Magic is five-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star himself. But he went even further in his praise of James, saying that James could be the best player to ever play on a basketball court in the NBA. ‘For him to really catch Michael, it’s that next two or three championships,’ Johnson said. ‘If he could get a couple more championships, then he’ll be probably the greatest that’s ever played.’

Due to the CoronaVirus, it’s hard to tell if there will be more basketball this season. The Lakers had a solid chance at a championship this season but the opportunity might be taken away frmo them. The combined force of James and Anthony Davis was the greatest team-up in LeBron’s career, even after playing with Wade, Love, Bosh, and Kyrie. Davis is a six-time NBA All-Star and wreaks havoc on the rest of the league. James and Davis would help Los Angeles to its first playoffs appearance since 2013.

Johnson still believes Jordan is the best player the game has ever seen currently. Johnson just believes when James’ career finishes up and he calls it quits, James could be the GOAT when it’s all said and done. ‘For me on my books right now, I would say Michael [Jordan] was the freakiest player in the game,’ Johnson said. ‘He was the greatest to play on the floor because I couldn’t jump as high… But Michael going 6-0 in the NBA finals, oh man. That’s awesome.”I went to the finals nine times in 12 years, but we only won five,’ he added. ‘But I’ll take those five, trust me. As long as it was two more than Larry [Bird], that’s all I care about.’

Johnson also added Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics to the GOAT group. Russell won 11 NBA championships in his 13-year career. That type of record, many believe, will never be broken. ‘You have to give some love to Bill Russell with 11 championships,’ Johnson said. ‘Always remember that.’ Let’s all hope that James and the Lakers get a shot at a championship this season. If we lose this season, James fans around the world will use this year as an excuse for another title while Jordan fans will play it off and act like the cancellation of the season doesn’t mean anything.

Cleveland Championship

LeBron James has been the self-proclaimed king before he even stepped foot on an NBA court. In 2018, he discussed why he’s the GOAT as well. His reasoning was because he led his home state to the city’s first championship in decades, turning Cleveland into Believeland after a remarkable comeback from a three-games-to-one deficit against the best regular season team in history, the Golden State Warriors.

“That one right there made me the greatest player of all time,” James said on ESPN’s “More Than An Athlete” series. ‘That’s what I felt. I was super, super ecstatic to win one for Cleveland because of the 52-year drought. Like, I was ecstatic. That day, the first wave of emotion was, everyone saw me crying, that was all for 52 years of everything sports that have gone on in Cleveland. And after I stopped, I was like ‘That one right there made you the greatest player of all time.’

“Everybody was talking about how they [the Warriors] were the greatest team of all time. Like, they were the greatest team ever assembled, and for us to come back, the way we came back in that fashion, I was like ‘You did something special.’ That was, like, one of the only times in my career I felt like ‘Oh s—, you did something special.’ I haven’t really had time to really sit back and think, but that, that was a moment.” James averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists in the Finals against the 2016 Warriors. While he never mentioned Jordan’s name, he was a direct shot at Jordan, even if he didn’t mean it that way.

In October, James joked about that debate when Jordan did a promo for the “Sunday Night Football” showdown between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. “A lot of talk going on these days about who is the greatest ever,” Jordan said. “About who has the titles, the raw talent, the most clutch moments. I get it, it’s a tough call. I mean, even the jersey numbers are the same. But maybe the best way to settle this debate is to play it out, head to head. I’ll watch that.”

Reality is, James wears 23 because of Michael Jordan. He looked up to Michael Jordan and wanted to pay his respect. I don’t think anyone figured James would have a career like this even if he was going to be the best player in the NBA for multiple years. “My motivation is this ghost I’m chasing,” James told Sports Illustrated after the Cavs won the title in 2016. “The ghost played in Chicago.”

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LeBron James: More Than An Athlete. (2021, Dec 16). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/lebron-james-more-than-an-athlete/

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