As Los Angeles Lakers star forward LeBron James moves through his career, his place in the GOAT discussion remains fluid. Michael Jordan sits atop the list for many, but James is still jocking for the position as he adds to his resume. However, former NBA guard Jalen Rose believes the future first-ballot Hall of Famer may have already sealed his fate in the conversation.
LeBron James battling Michael Jordan in GOAT debate
Over the last decade, James has found himself pinned up against Jordan in the GOAT discussion.
The former Bulls great continues to hold the upper hand in the discussion, but the 36-year-old has compiled a compelling case for the prestigious title. He has earned four NBA championships with four Finals MVP awards, garnered four regular-season MVP awards, received 17 All-Star selections, and snagged an NBA-record 16 All-NBA team nominations (13 First Team, 3 Second Team).
James has 10 Finals appearances, including eight consecutive that stretched over his stint with the Miami Heat and second run with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite all that, one of his former peers believes he still falls short of Jordan for one reason.
Jalen Rose crushes LeBron James’ GOAT argument by highlighting 1 of Michael Jordan’s most impressive feats
For many, Jordan remains atop the list as the GOAT, but James’ place in the conversation is fluid, especially with continuing his career into his 19th season.
However, James’ case for that vaunted status hasn’t drastically improved due to what he’s accomplished up to this point. During a recent interview on the “Posted Up” podcast with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, former NBA guard Jalen Rose voiced that the 17-time All-Star’s stake to that claim fell apart when he left the Miami Heat that didn’t allow him to reach a feat Jordan accomplished twice.
“Here was LeBron’s chance to pass MJ for like true, non-biased basketball historians, if he would’ve stayed in Miami and they would’ve actually did not five, not six, not seven. That was his chance to do it,” Rose said via Yahoo Sports. “If they would have won four in six years, or something like that … they won two in four years. They didn’t really do what they set out to do.
“So he needed to go to Cleveland to raise one for his city, his hometown, his home state, but also to reinvent himself. You know the hardest thing to do is, when people are like, to build a new situation. No, the hardest thing to do is to stay. That’s the hardest thing.”
Rose’s perspective centers on James building a dynasty in Miami as he guided the franchise to four straight Finals appearances. Although Dwyane Wade’s body was breaking down, the Heat had a strong foundation with their big three intact. Meanwhile, the team could have attracted other veteran players to join them.
However, the star forward elected to return home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers again. James could have stayed with the Heat for as long as he wanted, but his pull to win a championship where he began his career ultimately won over his heart.
LeBron James may never earn the undisputed GOAT recognition
Jordan’s place as the GOAT is a position many may never change regardless of what James or any other player accomplishes.
The former Bulls great left an irreplaceable legacy behind championship success and sustained dominance. He remains the gold standard that players strive to achieve. He’s served as the primary source of motivation for some of the game’s greatest talents.
James may never overcome the critics bashing his decision to join forces with Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami along with his Finals record (4-6). Jordan’s undefeated mark in the Finals is a hill that the bulk of the GOAT argument lies upon beyond his utter dominance.
Unlike Jordan, the 36-year-old still holds the chance to add to his career with more championships and accolades. It may not be an argument James will ever win outright. However, he’s undoubtedly established himself as one of the greatest players in NBA history.