Arguments over who’s the best player in any sport are hard enough when they’re confined to one sport. It gets even trickier when you bring every sport into the conversation. Patrick Mahomes named his choice for the best player across all sports. His choice is perfectly reasonable, but there’s plenty of competition for the throne, especially when you look overseas.
Patrick Mahomes explains why LeBron James is the greatest player in sports
With multiple national crises and the upcoming NFL season in question, Patrick Mahomes has nothing better to do than answer random questions on the internet.
In conjunction with his interview with GQ, Mahomes scrolled through the most popular social media platforms to do just that. One of the queries posed to Mahomes: Which superstar does he think is the best player among these three living legends, Mahomes, Mike Trout, and LeBron James?
Mahomes took himself out of the running and went with James. The quarterback rationalized that James has been at the top of the NBA for nearly two decades. Mahomes and Trout have only been at this level for a few years. James certainly has them beat on the length of his resume. But who was the better player at this point in their careers?
How do Trout and Mahomes compare to King James?
Drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft, he didn’t debut in the majors until 2011. Since then, Trout’s been as great as a baseball player could be without experiencing much team success. He’s earned an All-Star nod in every full season he’s played, won the MVP award three times, and shows no signs of slowing down.
The Angels have struggled for relevance for most of his career. They haven’t just failed to make a real postseason run; the team has never won a single playoff game with Trout. Their one playoff series came in 2014 when Trout won his first MVP. And the Kansas City Royals swept them. The structure of baseball minimizes individuals, and Trout suffers due to it.
Being a quarterback, Mahomes has none of those problems. He launched the Chiefs into the stratosphere as soon as he got on the field. His first year as a starter ended with him becoming the second player in ever to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns, winning the MVP trophy, and a narrow defeat in the AFC Championship game. He went one better in this last year, leading the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl in 50 years.
Famously, James had to play for a lot longer — and change teams — to win his first title. But he began to make good on the hype immediately after becoming a pro. He won the Rookie of the Year award and became a 27 point a game All-Star in year two. So Mahomes has him beat at that point.
But by the time he reached Trout’s stage of his career, he separated himself from the pack as a player and cultural touchstone. After surviving the hot takes pf “The Decision,” James ended his ninth NBA season as a champion for the first time. Since winning three of his four MVPs in a four-year span, James established himself as the best NBA player.
Trout’s personal accomplishments are similar to James’ feats. But when you account for playoff victories, and the fact that James dealt with far more scrutiny than Trout does as a MLB player, it’s clear that James comes out on top.
Is there any competition for James’ fake title?
In terms of ability, accomplishments, and longevity, there are only a small number of athletes who can get even close to James’ career. The closest point of comparison in American sports is Serena Williams. Her 39 Grand Slam wins are the third most all-time among female tennis players, and is the most among active players. She’s still one of the best players in the world even as a 38-year old who nearly died during childbirth.
The other best contemporaries play overseas. The Ballon D’or (“Golden Ball” in French) is the most prestigious individual award in soccer, awarded to the best player in the world each year. (This year’s award won’t be given out due to the coronavirus pandemic, reports ESPN.) Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have won the award 11 of the last 12 years. They remain the sport’s defining figures even as they age into their mid-30s.
Ronaldo has won five times, making the most of his talents with a Kobe Bryant-esque dedication to self-improvement that allows him to transform his game as his physical abilities decline. Messi has won it six times, and finished this year’s La Liga season at the top of the charts for goals (25), assists (21 assists), shots, and dribbles… but his team still couldn’t win the league. Is either of them better than LeBron? Every person will have a different answer.