Shooting hoops

After leading his team to victory in the NBA finals, LeBron James proves he is one of the best basketball players ever

Shortly after his victorious performance in game 7 of the NBA Finals in Miami, Florida, last month, LeBron James sat at a postgame press conference and said, "I want to be, if not the greatest, one of the greatest to ever play this game. And I will continue to work for that... and continue to put on this uniform and be the best I can be every night."

A statement of that magnitude prompted journalists and analysts to immediately, in a flurry of criticism and speculation, ask, "Is LeBron James the next greatest NBA player of all time?" This question came at no more obvious a time than on the heels of James's second consecutive NBA title. Is James truly "great"? Does he have what it takes to be a champion in the long run?

Everyone seems to have a definition and explanation for what makes a professional athlete "great". Great athletes score a certain amount of points per game. They consistently lead with passion and never falter. They never let anyone down and never make mistakes. They win championships, and not just one championship. Great players bring home several championships.

But what makes an athlete truly "great"? Does anyone have the definitive answer? The term "greatness" is thrown around as though everyone is in the market to find the next sports savior. People are quick to set the parameters of athletic greatness with an unfaltering measuring stick, often driven solely by facts and figures, research and analysis. Shots taken versus shots made.

It could be argued that James has a long way to go in the statistics department. He only has two championships and NBA Finals MVP titles. Comparing him to the likes of Michael Jordan, who racked up six Finals titles and Finals MVP titles, all while never allowing a game 7 from his opponents, inevitably condemns James to a losing position. Another remarkable NBA athlete, Kobe Bryant, played a major role in bringing home five NBA titles home to Los Angeles, all while making 15 All-Star Game appearances so far.

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