While I find the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan debate to get tedious quickly, that’s where we are with LeBron — we are watching him at his peak and wondering where he will rank all time when all is said and done.
And when you compare someone with the all-time greats, Michael Jordan is the modern bar to clear. You can try to make the case someone else was better if you want, but everyone rightfully has Jordan in their top three. If you don’t you’re doing it wrong.
During TNT’s pregame coverage of the NBA All-Star Game Sunday, they will broadcast an interview with Charles Barkley and President Barack Obama. So Barkley naturally asked about LeBron and Jordan. Naturally. Here is the baller-in-chief’s answer, courtesy TNT.
“You know LeBron. I know LeBron. When you are standing next to him, and then you watch him close up, I’ve never seen somebody that size, that fast, who can jump that high, who is that strong, who has that much basketball savvy all in one package.
“So we don’t yet know where he is going to be. Now, I’m a Chicago guy and Mike will always be the guy, for me, just because that was a magical moment for the city. And he was a champion. Mike is now retired. LeBron, when you look at him, you think he might be able to play at a high level for another seven, eight, 10 years. He’s 29 years old. In terms of every aspect of the game, LeBron has a chance to be as good as anybody.”
That was a political answer.
I guess it’s a fun barstool debate to try and guess where LeBron will land when he hangs up his Nikes. Personally, I’d rather fully savor watching him now, knowing we are lucky to get to see one of the all time greats at his peak, and leave that debate for a day a decade from now when we have a more complete picture.
LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry
“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”
“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”
LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.
Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)
But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.
First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:
Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.
That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.
The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.
Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to the league:
Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.
But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.
Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.
Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)
Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.
The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.
It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.