The GOAT argument in the NBA is the most tiresome debate in all of sports. Yet, it never goes away. Part of it is because it’s so difficult to quantify. Comparing personal accolades, individual achievements, or even team success is so problematic because of the different eras, the different opponents, and any other number of factors.
In certain ways, it’s purely arbitrary. For instance, no matter what LeBron James achieves in his career, there are those who will never put him above Michael Jordan in the conversation of the greatest players of all time. It’s an emotional decision, and no amount of data or logic can change people’s minds.
But in LeBron’s case, he personally has a pretty compelling case for himself as the player who stands head and shoulders above the rest, and it all stems back to the Cavs’ magical comeback from a 3-1 deficit to win the 2016 NBA title.
In the latest episode of “More Than An Athlete” from UNINTERRUPTED, LeBron explained why he believes that feat secured his status as the greatest basketball player of all time.
“That one right there made me the greatest player of all-time,” he said. “That’s what I felt. I was super, super ecstatic to win won for Cleveland because of the 52-year drought. The first wave of emotion, when everyone saw me crying, that was 52 years of sports and everything that’s gone on in Cleveland. And then after I stopped, I was like, that one right there made you the greatest player of all time.”
Regardless of whether the 2016 championship made him the GOAT, it’s certainly the most impressive performance in NBA Finals history in arguably the greatest Finals series ever.
And as LeBron alludes to, it was meaningful on multiple levels, for the city of Cleveland, for the NBA history books, for his own personal goal of bringing the Cavs a title, etc. etc. So it’s easy to see from that perspective why he would feel that way.