LeBron James has three championships, four MVPs, two Olympic gold medals, and is coming off arguably the greatest performance in history of the NBA Finals. He’s already ended the city of Cleveland’s infamous title drought, too, a personal goal he made public upon returning to his hometown Cavaliers in free agency two years ago.
What’s next for a 31-year-old who’s already accomplished everything and shown no signs of slowing down? Unfortunately for James, banana-boat buddy Dwyane Wade says the biggest motivation for the remainder of his career is impossible to reach. He’s right, too.
As relayed by ESPN’s Nick Friedell, the Chicago Bulls shooting guard used a golf analogy to explain why James won’t ever catch “the ghost” of Michael Jordan to be considered the greatest player of all time.
“No, it’s not possible,” Wade told ESPN with a laugh. “It’s not possible…The only thing you can do is tie it,” Wade said. “There’s no 19th hole.”
“I think last year — not only in my eyes, but in a lot of people’s eyes — really put him … he’s on the 15th hole right now,” Wade said of James. “And he’s on his way, for sure.”
In 2012, Wade told ESPN that James, then his teammate with the Miami Heat, was “on par” with Jordan but only on “the fourth hole” of a full round of golf. Point being: If James kept up the pace he’d established in 2012, he’d rise up beside Jordan on the pantheon of best players ever.
Two championships, one gold medal, and an MVP award later, Wade is more confident than ever that Cleveland’s hero won’t top Chicago’s – and his new black-and-red threads don’t have anything to do with it, either.
It’s been discussed ad nauseam in this space and elsewhere: Jordan is a mythical figure in the basketball world. His reputation is absolutely pristine, a reality owed to his remarkable on-court feats as much as it is his status as king of the endorsement world and pre-internet existence. Nothing short of a multi-time MVP winning seven titles and going undefeated in the Finals will change the near-consensus opinion that Jordan is the GOAT.
James, of course, doesn’t boast that resumé, and it’s fair to assume no one ever will. Does that make Jordan’s case as the greatest player of all time infallible? No way, but don’t tell that to the masses. The collective’s mind is already made up, and there’s nothing realistic that will make it change.