First let me say this; LeBron is a once in a lifetime player and athlete. I don’t think we will ever see the combination of size, athleticism and talent he has EVER.
However, pieces of his game are straight out of the chapters written by a couple Hall of Famers’ and a future HOFer in the Book of Basketball. I believe that being the historian and student of the game he says he is LBJ would also admit that his game comes from those who came before him. In this edition of my “You Remind Me of…”series (You can read the ones on Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook and Draymond Green by clicking on their names), here are the names I’m sure he would mention.
Magic Johnson definitely brought style to the game with his flashy passes, fast-breaking tempo and million watt smile, but also substance as he was one of the most cerebral player of his era, and of all-time. LBJ is the same way. Sure he has more physical gifts than Magic, but LeBron would rather beat you with his mind like the 5-time Champion.
Scottie Pippen, the first 6’8″ small forward that could guard four positions easily. Pippen and LBJ share the same ability to shut down the oppositions top perimeter player whether he be a 6’9″ Magic Johnson or a 6’3″ Russell Westbrook. Go back and watch the 1991 NBA Finals, it was the move by Phil Jackson to put Pip on Magic after game one that propelled the Bulls a 4-1 series victory for the first of their six titles. LeBron has also been known to shutdown opposing teams top perimeter player and also slide down to the four spot to match up with their dominant post player.
Grant Hill was the first guy to combine the best of Magic and Michael. While Hill is smaller in weight than LeBron, at 6’8″, they both are their team’s best playmakers and defenders.
Both are also walking triple doubles. In his first six NBA seasons with the Detroit Pistons, Hill averaged 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game while leading the team to the playoffs four out of six seasons. Numbers don’t lie. G-Hill was doing LeBron like things before anyone even knew who LBJ was. His injuries in the middle of his career are the reason he doesn’t get the respect he deserves.
Dominique Wilkins, the Human Highlight film combined finesse and power like no other in the history of the game. LBJ never gave us the dunk contest performance we’ve wanted that ‘Nique gave us, but within games, James has given a highlight reel to salivate over. ‘Nique and James are both similar in their mid-game post dominance. When they get inside the paint there is nothing anyone can do with them.
When James’s career is over, he’ll likely be in the top five on the all-time career list for points, assists and could have more league MVP trophies than anyone in history. He has earned his seat at the table with Jordan, Magic, Bird, Big O and Kobe as the best perimeter players the game has ever seen. The only question that remains is will he bring a pro championship to Cleveland for the first time in fifty plus years? This could be the year.