The last few weeks have featured a ton of people trying to assess LeBron James‘ place in history. Even though he is 32 and has several more years of basketball ahead of him, basketball fans and pundits are trying to wonder where the Cavaliers’ star and former MVP stacks up among the game’s best right now.
For one of his former teammates, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron is a mixture of four former legends—three of whom are currently in the Hall of Fame, one will be enshrined sometime in the next few years. On the court, Shaq thinks LeBron is a combination of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and himself. When it comes to competitive drive, Shaq believes that LeBron is like another one of his old teammates, Kobe Bryant.
Shaq elaborated on all of this to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
“He’s a mixture of Michael, Shaq and Magic,” O’Neal told cleveland.com. “Shaq, because he’s bigger and stronger than everybody. Michael because he can score whenever he feels like it. And Magic because he does a great job getting everybody else involved. He’s been like that his whole career. Even in high school. I knew he was a special guy in high school.
“I’ve only met two people like him,” O’Neal continued. “Him and Kobe. Guys that were super determined ever since high school and accomplished all their dreams, and just wanted to be realized and recognized as one of the greatest and both had extraordinary careers.”
For someone who frequently gets compared to the greats of the game, LeBron’s game has never quite been an exact replica of Jordan or Johnson. So it is interesting that Shaq said that LeBron is a mix of the best of his game (minus the gnarly feet, of course), Jordan’s game, and Johnson’s game. Add that in with Kobe’s approach to hoops and you really do have someone special.
As for whether or not this all makes LeBron the greatest player of all time in Shaq’s eyes, well, not quite. You can probably guess where this is going, but Shaq thinks the next thing LeBron has to do is win a few more rings.
To summarize, James has caught or will catch virtually all of the greatest to ever play in the NBA in stats and accolades. But he has more winning to do when it matters most, in the Finals.
“He’s always been a joy to watch,” O’Neal said. “He passed Jordan for the leading playoff scorer in history, which I thought was hard to do. Now, once you get one or two (championships), you just try to add them on before your time is up. He has three? Hopefully he can get four this year.”