A lot of Chicago people dismiss LeBron James’ accomplishments because they don’t want their memory of Michael Jordan to be disturbed. Someone could average 75 points a game and those same people would scoff at his hang time.
Now, before I get to LeBron, yes, I know that MJ won six NBA titles. Amazing. A force of nature. Would have won more if he hadn’t played baseball for two years. There. OK?
But it’s hard to dismiss what James has done these last six seasons. This will be his sixth straight trip to the NBA Finals. The last time that happened was 50 years ago with the Celtics. And Bill Russell’s teams were loaded with talent.
James’ teams have been talented, too, but not like that. He went to four straight Finals with the Heat after forming a super group with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. They won two titles. In Cleveland, he has Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving but has yet to win an NBA championship.
Jordan, never short on self-confidence, liked to call his Bulls’ teammates his “supporting cast.’’ LeBron has never had anybody as good as Scottie Pippen was. The closest would be Wade, but he never had the all-around game that Pippen did and has always seemed to be on his last legs, even if he wasn’t. Whatever LeBron’s teams have accomplished the last six seasons were largely because of LeBron. Few players in NBA history have carried as much pressure and scrutiny.
James is the most physically imposing human to ever play the game. He’s 6-foot-8 and built like a tight end, but he can handle the ball and defend any position on the court. He’s unselfish, sometimes to a fault. That tends to show up negatively late in big games, when he sometimes makes the right basketball play (a pass) but not the one the best player on the planet should make. Shoot, LeBron, shoot.
But he’s doing something right. Six straight trips to the Finals? Not Michael-worthy, but, man, pretty darn good.