For quite some time, I’ve been wanting to involve all of you wonderful readers in debates about sports. Of the many issues in today’s world, I believe that one key problem is that we no longer can have spirited debates without someone becoming offended.
That’s where sports come in. Sports arguments are what gives me life, and they are inherently non-personal. We can disagree on who should be the top pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, scream and shout at each other for an hour, and then go grab lunch together with no hard feelings.
We need more friendly debates in this world, so that’s what we’re going to do.
On Tuesday, I wrote about The Athletic’s selection of LeBron James as the second greatest player of all time. Personally, I think they nailed it. I’ve had the pleasure of watching the entirety of James’ career, some of it up close and personal when I covered the NBA.
Many of you disagree, which is completely fine. I’ve chosen a few of your comments and responded below.
Let’s raise a glass to spirited debate and commence.
“If you’re looking for this generations GOAT then I’d implore you to look at Curry. No one in the history of the game besides George Mikan has so utterly changed the game as Curry has in his decade plus in the league. Not only that but he was/is the de facto leader of the greatest dynasty seen since his airness and the Bulls.”
Morgan: I love this comment, and I completely agree. There is certainly an argument to be made that the last decade has belonged to Steph Curry, AND that his impact on the game of basketball is actually more impactful than James’.
In December, Curry became the all-time leader in threes made in a career, passing Ray Allen. He did so in just 789 games, compared to 1,300 games for Allen. But it’s the way the game of basketball has changed due to Curry’s influence that we’re discussing here.
When Curry entered the NBA in 2009, teams were averaging 18.1 three-point attempts per game. So far through the 2021-2022 season, that number has ballooned to 35.3 attempts per game.
It can almost all be traced back to Curry, proving that increased three-point shooting simply makes sense analytically, and making defenses defend from sideline to sideline.
He’s also been to four NBA Finals, winning three, and has his team sitting at 43-17, second in the Western Conference. You won’t hear me say a negative word about Curry. He’s easily the most entertaining player of the past two decades. Great comment.
“Joe Morgan – how do you think James does against the more physical teams of the 80’s/90’s? Personally i think he’d wither under that type of play. But if that’s true it wouldn’t seem to be because of lack of physical strength, maybe less mental discipline to do what he does under the higher physical demands of those more physical teams. My two cents anyways.”
Morgan: A great question and another great comment. Over the years, I’ve often heard the argument that LeBron “would wilt under the physicality of the 80’s and 90’s style of basketball.” First off, I think it’s ridiculous to assume that the 6-9, 250 pounds, James couldn’t handle the rough and tumble basketball of past decades. He’s a physical specimen unlike any basketball player we’ve ever seen. I think he’d be fine.
To your question, the guy does have “mental discipline.” It took James nine years to get his first NBA ring, constantly having to deal with the media and the public deriding him for “not getting it done.” He has the mental discipline to be successful in any decade.
“It’s a good argument, Joe, but not convincing. I found it interesting that Kobe isn’t even mentioned in this article, despite winning more rings than LeBron in fewer attempts. James is probably the single most physically gifted basketball player I’ve ever seen, and his numbers are great. But he doesn’t have the unshakable will to win that Michael and Kobe had. When I watch him drive down the lane (because he’s so big and explosive that no one can stop him), get to within five feet of the basket and then kick it out to a teammate for a three, that sums up his entire career in my view. Give me MJ, Kobe, Magic, Bird and Hakeem. LeBron can come off the bench.”
Morgan: James driving down the lane in order to suck in the defense, which gives shooters open shots, is not a negative. That’s good basketball. Kobe is absolutely one of the greats, but he was never the playmaker that James is. However, with one shot to win the game, I’ll take Kobe over LeBron.
“He always seemed like a ball hog to me who put up a couple hundred shots a game. He is currently ranked 19th in the NBA for field goal percentage shooting, at 52.2%. So, facts back up my feelings.”
Morgan: Two things. How in the world does field goal percentage correlate to being a ball hog? I think you were looking for shots per game? Secondly, James is known as the opposite of a ball hog, often criticized in his career for passing too often. He’s seventh all-time in assists with 9,962.
So, no. Your facts don’t back up your feelings.
”I’ve grown to HATE LeBron as a person, but his skill is undeniable. If he was raised in the same era of Bird/Magic/Jordan, his style of play would be way more physical and his size/speed would absolutely dominate. Also, people never seem to mention Jordan’s early failure in the playoffs. Jordan didn’t even make the NBA finals until his 7th season in the league (he lost in the first round in his first 3 seasons). LeBron took an awful Cavs team to the Finals in his 4th season.”
Morgan: Love this. Absolutely agree. This is the part of the “x player couldn’t play in x era” argument that is often overlooked. If James played in the 90s, he would have been raised in an era that was more physical. His style of play would have been like every other basketball player’s style in the 90s. The argument works in reverse as well. If Michael Jordan played in today’s era, he would have been a three-point shooter, because his game throughout his high school and college career would have focused on being a shooter due to the way the game is played today.
“When I have some spare time I do want to watch “The Last Dance.” I hear that it is a must see. Years ago I was a Knicks fan. I remember when MJ returned from his experiment in baseball (which probably cost him a few championships) and torched the Knicks for 55. When the Bulls won the championship, MJ was asked if he felt sorry for Ewing and the Knicks, who were in the finals for at least one of those years. MJ”s response was classic-’He had his chance.’”
Morgan: I couldn’t recommend “The Last Dance” more. If you love the history of basketball, this is the doc for you. I’ve probably watched it five times in full.
“He is a great player however, he never made all of those around him that much better. As far as dominating, I never saw anyone dominate like Wilt. Then there was Kareem. Michael for an all around game. Magic made all those around him better. Then you have Bill Russell. 11 titles in 13 years, I know it was a different Era but two college championships, a gold medal, player coach. They changed rules because of Wilt and Kareem. I do think LeBron is great but I can’t say he is the 2nd best.”
Morgan: I don’t understand how anyone can make the argument that James didn’t “make others around him better.” The guy has been to 10 NBA Finals. You think he did this on his own? There’s a reason why Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving haven’t been back to the NBA Finals since James left them as teammates. Also, he’s dragged three separate organizations to NBA Championships. Have you ever looked at the 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers roster? It’s embarrassing, and they went to the NBA Finals. LeBron James went to the finals with Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden as the team’s second and third highest scorers. James makes everyone around him better.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to email@example.com.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.